CMWorld Recap: Allen Gannett on the Laws of Creativity

Writer Access 5-Star Writer Kelly R.

Kelly R is a 5-Star Writer at WriterAccess.

Is creativity really a “flash of genius”? Or does it come from a simpler organic process, one that anyone can learn when they put their mind to it. That’s the question TrackMaven CEO and Founder Allen Gannett explored in his CMWorld session, The Laws of Creativity for Marketers: The Hidden Science of Creative Genius.

Gannett explored how to stack the odds in your favor to make your ideas flourish. With analytics tools that show how data and case studies can be a valuable asset to you, he made the laws of creativity seem less ambiguous. They usually follow a distinct pattern of logic.

Gannett noted that most content just fails when it’s put out in the world. The failure rate of content is off the charts. Trying to figure out why a piece of content doesn’t resonate with the consumer is a full-time exploration. That’s why a company like TrackMaven is angling to give brands the tools they need to uncover the principles of success. The status quo in the marketing world isn’t impressive.

Gannett was CEO of Splash Networks before he founded TrackMaven in 2012, an all-in-one analytics platform for web content that aims to make integrated marketing more effective through data and understandable action. Granted, when Gannett explained this in his session, it was much more entertaining and relatable. His manner of speaking is engaging, fun, and he’s also a dead ringer for the actor, Justin Long, with his considerable boyish charm. The audience was tuned into his every word and slide, which was one of the most exciting sessions at the conference.

A Few Example Of Creative Genius

Gannett’s examples of creative genius pointed to many famous people, such as J.K. Rowling with her massively successful Harry Potter series and the kings of rock n’ roll, the Beatles. He brought up songwriter Max Martin, who has worked with countless celebrities such as Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry. Most notably though Martin has worked with pop princess Taylor Swift on many of her multi-platinum songs.

When asked how he manages to make so many hit songs, Martin replied that it was truly just a simple formula. Don’t use any more than three melodic parts and people will respond to it. His goal was to minimize the information for the listener. Gannett explained how this is genius thinking for creative content creation. It’s an intentional way to make content highly digestible. The consumer is able to process and enjoy the information, just like all those hit songs.

Intentional Creativity  Will Give You Results

When you apply an intentionally creative method to your content, it’s going to drive measurable results. You can easily use the data you glean from your information to narrow down what will be successful. Data in and of itself will reduce the options for the paths you need to go down with your creative endeavours.

Another example is the mega coffee brand, Starbucks. They have a formula of success that is hard to beat. When they are considering where to put a new location, they look to stats showing where previous locations have been in high demand. The results they have found is that a store needs to be near at least 26,000 people who make at least $40,000 or above average income per year. Store planning analysts look at Atlas Data, which has millions of charts full of data, to put their marketing systems into place and decide where to position stores.

Knowing Your Content Won’t Fail

Sixty-three percent of B2C marketers and 61 percent of B2B marketers think that their content isn’t effective. So there’s obviously a huge disconnect between the chief marketing officers, their content directors, and those responsible for writing the content. The poor writers whose content in the end is failing, even with considerable funds backing their distribution, end up being to blame. Were they not creative enough?

That leads us back to the Taylor Swift example, whom Gannett truly seems to love. #TaylorSwiftForever. With 8.6 million albums sold, she clearly knows how to market herself by creating content that weasels its way in the the hearts and eardrums of many music lovers. Her track record of five #1 hits off her last album 1989 is astounding to say the least. Looking at the pattern to discover why there have been so many hits is the key. Max Martin is her common denominator on all of those songs. In fact, in 2014 and 2015, 40 percent of all #1 songs had Max Martin as a songwriter.

Creative Brilliance or Preconceived Pattern?

Gannett states that the “things we perceive as creative brilliance, are often a product of the system.” So creativity often is not just a flash of brilliance, but the result of a preconceived pattern. He went on to describe Netflix as the perfect example of what works. They are solely using data to run their business model and with over 65 million subscribers to their product, they are obviously doing something right.

Ted Sarandos is the Chief Content Officer of Netflix. He says that in determining the trajectory of their content, it’s probably about 70 percent data driven and 30 percent judgement. The right data will drive just how creative you can be. Using the data to reduce your options leads to a higher possibility of success.

All in all, marketing creativity is still going to be left up to human curation. The results will be good as long as you follow a specific data model, with just a dash of creativity thrown in the mix. Gannett says that when you commit to adopting a system, you aren’t just going to be “banging your head against the wall” with an infinite pool of options at your disposal. In other words, be Taylor Swift with intentional creativity in all your content creation and marketing efforts.

Kelly R is a Beauty Editor and Copywriter. She has written for many different online and print publications including Allure, Mode Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, Seminole and The New Yorker.

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