Research: Creativity's Best Friend

Research isn't the enemy of creativity; it can be its best friend by removing the guess work and confusion over what to emphasize and who should speak.You are working as part of a creative team. Everyone has lots of bright ideas. So how do you decide what idea will work? In a word: research.

Survey research doesn't need to squash creativity, but research can direct creativity to its most useful ends. A concept that looks great on paper or sounds perfect in a brainstorming session may fall flat when it reaches its intended audience. It is better to know that earlier than later.

Some creative directors view research as the enemy, when in fact research can be a trusted guide to connect with the people you are trying to reach with a TV ad, an op-ed or a piece of direct mail.

Quality research is a must for strategic communications in both the marketing and public affairs spaces. Here's why:

  • People only can absorb so much information, so it makes sense to lead with your best feature or most compelling fact. Research can establish what sells best.
  • A lot of decision-making rests on trust. That puts a premium on messengers. Research can test different people or types of people to see who your target audience trusts the most.
  • Some facts or arguments prompt positive responses, but a positive response doesn't equate automatically to a sale. Research can probe whether a feature has enough value to earn a purchase or whether an argument is believable enough to earn support.

In fashioning marketing or public affairs campaigns, there are plenty of issues to debate without having to debate the fundamentals — what feature or point drives the most response and causes someone to act.

Once you know what works — and who is the best spokesperson — you can let your creativity run wild as it runs in the right direction.