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Messaging motivates – data informs

As marketers, we need to use data to inform our creative messaging and understand the relationship between the two. Read insights from our VP, Creative CX Studio.

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Adam Zuccaro, Vice President, Creative CX Studio | The Adcom Group

Allow me a quick lesson in art history: Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th century drawing, Vitruvian Man, depicts a man in two superimposed positions. Arms and legs apart and inscribed in a circle and square, the figure represents Leonardo’s concept of the ideal human body proportions.

Relying on calculations by the architect Vitruvius, da Vinci theorized that in a perfectly-proportioned body, arm span equaled height.

What does this have to do with marketing? A lot, actually. As marketers, we can understand (instinctively or otherwise) what da Vinci was doing, because we do it every day.

It’s believed that Da Vinci was cultivating, creating, and relying on a mechanical, mathematical quantification of the infinitely unique human form, all in service of improving the accuracy of figure drawing and artistry that impacted a viewer’s (or consumer’s) qualitative visual experience.

As marketers, we grasp the concept that quantitative assessments coexist with and inform qualitative experiences. To the modern marketer, these quantitative assessments are derived from a strong understanding of the audience, its mindset towards a product and brand, as well as the competitive alternatives offered. That understanding informs quantitative data in one form or another.

Data, such as these points of information, is an incredibly powerful tool for marketers. It is necessary for building a strong foundation by which the rest of your branding can be monitored. And in 2022, measurable, quantifiable digital tactics make collecting and analyzing data easier than ever.

Data doesn’t motivate an audience while messaging does.

The rub is that on its own, data is not enough. Data doesn’t motivate an audience, while messaging does.

By and large, people don’t respond at an emotional level to charts and graphs in the same way as they do to a clever turn of phrase, a memorable jingle, a striking image or a heartfelt testimonial. An audience’s positive response to meaningful messaging underscores the difference between “data-driven” and “data-informed” decision-making, as my colleague, Jim Ganzer, likes to put it.

Simply put, there will always be an art to what we, marketers, do – but data allows us to guide our pencils along a clear mental path.

Data-informed decision-making allows for storytelling, which in turn allows for messaging. When presented with a spreadsheet of numbers, we should (and do) ask: “What story is this data telling?” or “What picture do these numbers paint?”

When properly dissected, understood, and shaped into demographic, psychographic or technographic information, we can glean insights from the data. Further, it can inform the shape of our marketing efforts.

Yes, it is cliché to say that marketing is an art and a science. Cliché or not, my experience has been that when a strategy strays too far toward art because it’s more about form than content and channels, or too far toward data because it’s more about channels than content, then the work becomes unbalanced and less compelling.

The audience can tell when it’s done wrong, just as it can instinctively feel when it’s done right.

Adam Zuccaro is Vice President, Creative CX Studio at The Adcom Group, a creative marketing resource that partners with leading organizations and growth-minded companies to help them achieve their business goals.

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