By Matt Smith

For a long time I’ve been told that, as a boutique ad agency that creates work that strives for emotional engagement, we nonetheless have to defer to the data stockpilers who tell us whether our work is reaching the right consumers, at the right time, in the right place, etc.  We’re constantly told that we have to shape our creative product to meet whatever the numbers show about who is tuning in and who is not.

I get it. I understand that no matter how engagingly emotional a campaign might be it doesn’t do any good if it’s not reaching people at the right time and when they’re in the right mind set. Emotion is useless without reach, but I would also argue that opposite as well: reach is useless without emotion.  Simply put, the two worlds MUST be aligned.

That’s why I found a recent meeting with the good folks at Silverback Strategies so gratifying.  Silverback is an Alexandria, VA-based digital agency that specializes in all things digital: paid search; search engine optimization; content and social media; e-commerce, et al.  You get the picture.  They provide clients with all the stuff that makes their marketing work, and then they show proof that it does.  Their website carries the line “We support businesses whose success relies on measurable growth.”  Check them out here:

On paper, our two companies are from two different planets. One represents pure emotion with a strategic drive; the other is science driven by strategy. And yet at our meeting we had 100 percent agreement on how to reach consumers.

Why?  Primarily because the guys at Silverback understand and appreciate the value of a good creative product, and because they believe the findings of a Nielsen study called “Five Keys to Advertising Effectiveness,” which found that 49 percent of a brand’s sales lift from advertising could be attributed to the quality of the creative.”

And there you have it. Smart creative and factual science in one vision, one focus, and one mind.  Emotion and data working together.  As Neil Welsh, CEO of Silverback, says, “Great ideas will never be automated.”

Matt Smith is founder of SmithGifford, and has close to 40 years’ experience as a creative and agency leader at the nation’s top agencies.  SmithGifford is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

You can find Matt Smith’s earlier columns at Oh, That’s Good.

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