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How to Produce Relevant Creative that Cuts Through the Noise

The barrage of activity from commercial brands, nonprofits, news media, friends, and colleagues has dwindled attention spans across all facets of everyday life. Many marketers today have turned to data, analysis and technology to make the most of these shrinking moments with the consumer. After all the effort and expense to locate, target, and engage with them, are you relevant?

Simply put, being relevant requires we know What to Say and How to Say It

Develop relevant content and messaging (“What to say”)

You cannot reach the overloaded consumer by discussing the features of your brand and the product you are trying to sell. Instead, consider these three levels of maximizing relevance.

1. Audience Relevance – Understand their passions and motivations

It’s important to put your collected data and insights to use for your creative team. Instead of focusing this knowledge on answering, “Who should we target?”, turn the same insight to answering, “What are my customer’s passions and motivations?”. Make sure to build these insights on real customers (not a hypothetical persona), enhance your data with third-party sources, and focus on data that helps build a message strategy (not just describe the audience).

2. Decision Path Relevance – Knowing buyer readiness identifies the right emotional & rational drivers

Consumers at different stages have different needs and, thus, experiences must fundamentally change based on their position in the marketing funnel. At the top of the funnel, the approach should be more emotional and focused on introducing them to the brand or product. At the bottom of the funnel, the equation has shifted to the rationale and ease of completing the intended transaction.

3. Individual Relevance - Understand the moment to drive personalization and motivate behavior

Individual relevance can take many forms. Localization can deliver relevance by focusing on local offers and in-store promotions. Environmental relevance includes adjusting messaging in real time, based on which opportunities are best for the specific geo-conditions of the user. Behavioral triggers generate creative variants based on buyer activity on your site or in your stores. 

Now that you’ve developed a strong set of messages, how do you ensure that these messages have the intended impact?

Maximize Communication Impact (“How to say it”) to drive action

Many well-conceived messages and strategic plans collapse in execution. To avoid this fate, keep in mind these three areas of creative improvement and optimization.

1. Best Practices and A/B Testing

You can still deliver meaningful improvement (with no tech investment) to your creative by A/B testing different versions, and while most marketers deploy high volumes of testing within their CRM and Media programs, much of this testing returns an insignificant result or results in one-off improvement. Focus instead on creating a top-down learning agenda that clearly states the three to five big lessons you want to learn.  All creative testing should ladder up to one of the stated lessons.

2. Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO)

When you are ready for more nuanced, faster learning, consider investing in a Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) solution. DCO tools allow you to create base templates and generate multiple ad variations using dynamic elements. Through a simple testing approach the ad variations generated get distributed amongst the audiences, bubbling up the best performing creative for each.

3. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

If you make it to the third-level of creative optimization, you possess a scaled and mature program where other improvements efforts have plateaued. Emerging Machine Learning tools (like Persado or Picasso Labs) can ensure your creative team begins with a higher likelihood of success.  Machine Learning tools can both aid imagery selection and inform message execution.  These tools drive personalization at scale and identify what each individual consumer prefers.

Building successful relationships with the overloaded consumer goes beyond investing in data, analytics and individually targeted media.  Your creative must focus on hyper-relevance by knowing what to say.  Maximizing the impact of the message requires a dogged focus on optimizing how you say it.  Continuous pursuit of these elements can ensure that your creative deserves the consumer’s attention.