When many of us right-brained marketers and creatives see spreadsheets and data, we want to run the other way. Our brains naturally thrive in a world of creativity, visual elements, emotion and intuition. But in today’s data and technology-driven world, art and science are colliding. Marketers are activating their left brains and fiercely embracing insights to inform their creative and storytelling process—and loving it. The result: more bold, impactful and purpose-driven marketing that gets to the heart of customers and employees quickly, driving positive results to the bottom line.
Pace’s Content+ 2021 Day 2 brought together a bevy of marketing powerhouses from top brands to showcase just how they are bringing their A-game to storytelling by combining data and creative. From using neuroscience to implementing SEO and humanizing data, the topics were not only fascinating but also drove home the importance of why combining art and science is so powerful as well as practical tips on how to bring this fusion to life. There was so much great information to unpack. Here are my key takeaways from each Content+ Day 2 session. I hope it sparks new thinking for you as it did for me.
Session 1: The Neuroscience Behind Powerful Storytelling
Our brains can only take so much information. With daily exposure to nearly 6,000 advertisements, brands are creatively learning how to break through the noise. Cue neuroscience—the science of understanding what makes our brains tick.
Jason Small is part of the Verizon corporate communications team, and his session dove deep into how our client, Verizon, is smartly infusing neuroscience into their marketing strategy—understanding that emotional stories will trigger recall and spark action and decision-making much faster than simple facts and figures. No longer is the heart of marketing about just showcasing brand value or product features, but rather, effective marketing is now about capturing heartfelt stories of real people with real emotions and letting those stories lead to improve your reach.
TAKEAWAY #1: Use Your Brand as the Guide, Not the Hero
Session 2: Unseen Content Can’t Be Great: How To Increase Visibility
Gone are the days when SEO was an afterthought. Today, SEO, analytics and back-end development have gained equal footing with front-end design—providing brands with opportunities to tell their unique stories while also understanding reach and ROI.
At Content+, our client NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) showcased how they became an important voice and center of reliable information at the peak of New York City’s COVID-19 outbreak last year. NYP’s Sharon Cotliar-Zweifach, Editorial Director; Anna Plesset, Art Director; and Pace’s very own Angie Porow, Associate Director of Strategy, presented on NYP’s journey as their Health Matters content hub quickly pivoted in early 2020 to better support their community.
Although already a strong SEO-backed site, together with Pace, NYP created an even stronger SEO strategy that aimed at creating COVID-19 related content that was optimized to answer users’ questions—told directly and authentically through NYP’s lens. They engaged their experts who told emotional stories from the ER. They broadcast CDC guidelines to ensure New Yorkers were staying safe. And so much more.
The result? People engaged to learn more and found a source of truth, at a time of both a lack of information and mass disinformation. The uptick in visibility, page views and users was swift, fueled by a growing need to stay informed. Analytics further solidified the strategy—helping fine-tune content and inform future topics. Without powerful SEO behind the scenes, their content could’ve remained unnoticed. But with it, not only has it enhanced NYP’s content programs, but it has also propelled NYP to the forefront of COVID-19, leading conversations, saving lives and impacting communities throughout New York in the process.
TAKEAWAY #2: SEO Must Be at the Forefront
Session 3: It’s All in the Data: Using Your Insights to Develop Compelling Stories
Data is everywhere. So how do you make sense of it all and uncover nuggets of insights that translate into compelling stories? Matt Carmichael, Vice President of Editorial and Content for Ipsos North America, encouraged us to begin by interrogating the data. Be not afraid, marketers! The time-honored who, what, when, where and why often provides a baseline understanding of the data. Whether a demographic, a topic or an idea—it begins to provide context to the audiences behind the data. But diving deep into the how and why can open up discussions on comparisons, understanding outliers, impacts or even the need for more data or research.
For us marketers, while this deep insight becomes our road map and makes us agile, it is the combination with creative that can set us apart. When we understand our targets better, we can quickly move to generate ideas and connect the dots. It also allows us to be smarter and more authentic about campaigns we produce—giving us more freedom to humanize data and tell stories that resonate best with audiences and moving them to action quicker, expanding our potential reach and driving revenue to the bottom line. In a nutshell, data-inspired creative is the future. And it’s our job as marketers to bring it to life.
TAKEAWAY #3: Interrogate Your Data to Unearth Compelling Stories
Tech + Creative Help You Deliver for Your Audience and C-suite Alike
Without a doubt, Day 2 at Content+ gave marketers and creatives a reason to embrace the magic that happens when art and science collide. It’s a powerful mix that creates authentic, emotional and personalized marketing—exactly what today’s audience craves. And while we tend to lean into our natural right brain, learning how to understand and leverage data is incredibly important. It helps inform strategy and becomes a useful foundation for purpose-driven marketing that resonates with your audiences. Not to mention, it helps track performance and ROI—showcasing marketing’s impact on the bottom line and, in turn, keeping your C-suite happy. So keep tapping into your left brain, marketers—be brave and become data inspired! You’ll find a world of endless possibilities at your doorstep when you let these two worlds collide.