What’s top of mind for the marketing head at one of the world’s top three brands? It’s not what you’d expect. In a company known for its emphasis on data, analytics, and new technology tools – Lorraine Twohill, SVP of Global Marketing at Google, says great marketing still comes back to the basics of creative messaging. Here are a few key takeaways from her recent interview with McKinsey Quarterly*.
Creative fundamentals are vital – even when your brand is a verb in the dictionary.
Your company is currently ranked #3 on Forbes’ The World’s Most Valuable Brands list and #2 on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list. You’re tasked with leading the marketing charge forward. How do you keep winning? At PitchMaps, we think marketing success today rides on the same creative fundamentals as it did 50 years ago – back in the Mad Men era. Apparently, so does Google’s head of marketing.
According to Twohill, “The core assets that were so important in the first golden age are as important today: a great central thought, great writing, great creativity. … The bar isn’t any lower today.”
All the data in the world is still no substitute for a creative message.
The explosion of data-driven marketing has brought about unprecedented knowledge of the customer. Marketing technologies have created powerful new ways to reach prospects and customers with your story. But without a compelling message that connects on a deeper, emotional level – you just become part of the noise in a busy marketplace.
Twohill explains, “Google has a very data-led culture. But we care just as much about the storytelling and the brand, and how we tell the world about our mission.”
She continues, “… with the use of the analytic tools we have, the storytelling becomes more important than ever. If anything, there’s too much talk about the science right now. … if you fall down on the art, if you fail on the messaging and storytelling, all that those tools will get you are a lot of bad impressions.”
Creativity drives results.
Twohill isn’t the only one saying this. A study published in Harvard Business Review* found investment in highly creative ad campaigns delivered close to 2x the sales impact of non-creative campaigns. In our own experience working with many different B2B companies, we’re seeing that creativity is just as important in B2B communications as it is in consumer advertising. Your B2B prospects are humans, too. They make emotional decisions. They laugh and cry at the same things as B2C consumers.
And what’s at the heart of this creativity in messaging? According to Twohill, it’s storytelling. She says, “Storytelling is the ultimate example of creative judgment. … the folks who have great creative judgment—and you really know it when you see it—are few and far between. … innate gut instinct, brilliant, creative judgment—that’s what we look for, and that’s where you see results.”
If it works for Google…
With the art and science of marketing each vying for the attention of today’s marketer, it’s easy for the pendulum to swing too far towards the science. You really need both. Even the most robust marketing technology stack cannot make up for a weak message.
Don’t lose touch with the original art of marketing. Your message can’t just be accurate – it has to be creative. That’s how you win. Just ask Google.
“How Google breaks through”, McKinsey Quarterly, February 2015
“Creativity in Advertising: When It Works and When It Doesn’t”, Harvard Business Review, June 2013