Great advertising can often be found at the balance between art and science. Compelling creative drives curiosity. Testing optimizes response. Revised creative drives action. Rinse and repeat and you’ve got yourself a pretty successful campaign.

The same is true for social media communications. Whether it’s content in the form of a blog post or Tweet, video or mobile application, the creative — either copy or art or a combination of the two — elicits the initial response. Measurement and testing, like with compelling advertising, should then be implemented to ensure the audience is responding in the intended fashion. The creative can then be revised and optimized, often through multiple iterations, to ensure the communications goals are being met.

But a funny thing happens on the way to the billboard … or blog post. We sometimes forget the second half of the equation. Whether it’s advertising agencies so impressed with their own brilliance or social media content experts tickled with the thought-provoking post just penned … we set it and forget it. Creative concepts come to life and we think that’s the end … until it’s time to change out the creative. Sometimes its our fault. Sometimes its the client wishes. Sometimes its just the frenzy of too much, too often, and we let it slip.

tunnel

Image by jugbo via Flickr

I call this creative myopia. It’s the process of focusing so much on the art that you forget the science. Favoring one lessens the effectiveness of the effort. And creative myopia can lessen the effort in a huge way. Ever seen a beautiful advertisement that you couldn’t determine what it was for or what it wanted you to do? Creative myopia at play.

In the advertising world this often manifests itself with agencies or campaigns run by “artists.” (Pronounced “art-teests.”) The über-creative who border on art snobs often lose themselves in the majesty of the work and forget that the rest of the world isn’t Robert Hughes. For most people (me included), art is a delightful distraction from the mundane. We can appreciate a beautiful picture or painting, get lost in a wonderful song or even appreciate a good theatrical production. But we’re not artists. And we don’t think like them.

Artists will tell you that the color blue often conveys a sense of calm. And while a bank’s logo in the lower corner of a field of blue hydrangea may be wonderfully artistic, to most of the world it’s an advertisement for blue hydrangea. Or the Bank of WTF?, Member FDIC. Still, the artist will see that the image conveys trust and calm. You can feel safe putting your money in this bank.

Creative myopia.

Mind you, this is not a criticism of art directors or copywriters. The creative in advertising, as well as that which fuels good social media marketing communications, is critically important. And good creative almost always wins … to an extent. But forgetting about the testing, teasing and trying new variables will get you stuck in the tunnel.

What do you do to avoid creative myopia? Do you test and tinker? Do your results make you change the approach? The copy? The art?

Does your agency avoid creative myopia with its advertising communications? How?

Share your thoughts, approaches and ideas in the comments. Perhaps we can all see with a wider lens together.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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  • Pingback: The Case of Creative Myopia | ViralBuild

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.hausman Angela Hausman

    Nice. I’ve taught advertising for years (now called integrated marketing communication) and preach this to students who find the fluff (creative) more fun than the stuff (communication).  It’s a constant battle to gain appreciation for strategic elements, like understanding your target market, listening, and metrics.

    • http://www.darryljonckheere.com Darryl

      Interesting. You teach integrated marketing communication at the university level and you refer to the creative as fluff. I’m curious, why?

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Sometimes when making a choice, you must just go with instinct and not over think things..I just keep it simple.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

    I’m seeing more and more of this in the name of “engagement” and “virality.” If people are looking at your ad, you’ve won, right? Wrong (as you point out). It’s absolutely vital to make sure your creative is helping to move the needle. Or else you get a love affair with your campaign that your customers might not be a part of.

    A case in point on this: 

    Old Spice’s Love Affair With Itself Serves No Sales Purpose
    With Focus on Going Viral, Has It Become Really Unfashionable to Sell Product?http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/spice-s-love-affair-serves-sales-purpose/228943/

  • http://twitter.com/crbslotracr2 Tracey Byrnes

    Fighting against creative myopia is a constant challenge. One key I often use to combat it is to immerse myself as far into the target market as I possibly can: live, eat, breathe and hear what the intended audience wants or doesn’t want and how they talk about it.

    After all, as hanelly said: “It’s absolutely vital to make sure your creative is helping to move the needle.” Otherwise you’re just throwing away money and brand reputation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10618874 Chase Sherman

    This is an excellent post, Jason.  A very 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10618874 Chase Sherman

    Are you familiar with the famous copywriter, Dan Kennedy?  If so you should know he’s been adamant about the ‘look’ of his offline newsletter remaining the same all these years to avoid the distraction of ‘art.’

    This post reminds me of his philosophy (and success).  Being a graphic artist myself, I sometimes find it difficult to let things go when they don’t look right… but I always remind myself that perfection doesn’t bring you closer to seeing results.  The adage and book title coined by copywriter, Michael Masterson seems to be most important for entrepreneurs (and marketers) — “Ready, Fire, Aim.”

    if you’re so consumed with the perfection of it’s look, you seem to forget the follow through in testing and analysis.  Thus, to get something to market quickly enables you to see what the real response is and refine based on feedback.

    I’ve come to realize this is the most important thing when it comes to shaping successful ideas…

  • http://twitter.com/parissab Parissa Behnia

    I very much enjoyed this… sometimes things can have nothing to do with the price of gold whether it is the art or the science.  I appreciate this appeal for balance!

  • http://twitter.com/SomeChum Mike Plotnick

    So true. Sometimes I’m so impressed by my own cleverness that I neglect to ask whether it’s actually serving a larger purpose.

  • Pingback: The Creative Steering Wheel | Darryl Jonckheere

  • http://freehouseinteriordesignideas.com/kitchen-shelves/ interior designing

    I am not very familiar with social communication since I only know social media and other kind of stuff. And creative myopia seems new to me but it sounds interesting. It is because if people are going to focus much on art, the science could be forgotten and neglected. Perhaps a good advertisement should be balance with or without creative myopia. Thanks for the insights.

  • http://www.learnbusinessenglish.org/ Learn-Business-English

    This hard to believe that advertising can do this…  

  • http://www.learn2success.org/ Learn-for-Success

     This is a great piece of information, i will use it for my next blog post… thanks…