Being creative with creativity at iProspect

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Whilst waiting for these seats to fill up I was considering the notion I was about to discuss with some of iProspect‘s best and brightest. In a digital agency is there room for creativity or is it all number crunching and data processing?

This was not my view but one that is often expressed by those not familiar with the workings of a digital agency and one that puts people off entering the market. Certainly to work in Content, or Social, you will need to be creative but is there room for creativity in Paid Social or SEO? Let’s find out.

I had in front of me a representative from each of SEO, Social, Paid Social and Content Marketing and was ready to hit them that with the idea that there wasn’t an ounce of creativity to be found in either these number crunchers.

Phil from Paid Social kicked it off and described his role as not feeling creative. In analysing paid social performance he deals in numbers all day long – it didn’t sound creative either. Paid Social however, is a study of human behaviour because the purpose here is to engage as effectively and widely as possible and to do that you need to think creatively. So the numbers Phil deals with all day need to be structured in such a way that it coincides with how people function in social media. Looking for patterns, problem-solving and analysing human behaviour, it might not be water colours and a bowl of bananas but it still sounded pretty creative.

Having lost round one, I targeted SEO. Alice conceded that there was some number crunching, especially at entry-level where a large part of the role is reporting but she estimated that now 80% of her role was creative. What about onsite SEO? Though this is technical and on some level data input, if for example you only have 50 characters to say everything you need to say, you have to start thinking creatively. And offsite? Well this is all about content marketing these days. I couldn’t even claim that content was just an exercise in packing in keywords because as the industry and Google have evolved this has become less important and even the clients are saying they are not interested in keywords.

Reeling, I knew that Louis from Social wasn’t going to help my cause. He explained that running entertaining and engaging campaigns on social media requires you to think outside the box especially when dealing with a client whose product isn’t necessarily exciting. Creativity in Social doesn’t stop there, part of the challenge is to convince companies that they need to be using social media to help engage their clients, raise their profile and aid conversions. Some companies are distrustful of social media and how they will be represented so Louis needs to be creative in his approach if he wants to win them over.

I staggered over to Matt, and waited for the knockout punch. Matt is mister Content Marketing, working on structuring campaigns, building communities and developing content. Creative is his middle name. When producing content he is not concerned with the inclusion of keywords, only with making the content the best it can be and further to that being proud of what he has produced. Scrabbling around I said surely if you are writing content about an insurance product for example, it’s not creative it’s formulaic and mundane. Again I came across the answer that the more mundane the product the more creative you have to be to sell it. Also it is not always about the hard sell, you can run interesting campaigns and virals about the products they insure. Or, using the example of a recent job site company they were working with, rather than talking about the company and its product, they ran a campaign using funny videos about different quirky jobs.

I was battered and bruised but there was still a bit of fight left in this old dog. Working in a large agency like iProspect, I claimed that these people sat in front of me were just cogs in a machine with no autonomy or license to innovate. I was wrong. The story I heard was that the larger the company the more opportunity there is to step forward and be creative. The number and variety of clients and the fact that people in different teams have different skills means that compared to a small agency where creative opportunities are limited and roles are more defined there was far more scope for innovation and creative thinking. On top of that iProspect encourages people to move around and work where their skills are best suited and this only works by showing your hand creatively.

That was the knockout. I did my best. I tried to prove that these people were just drones, crunching numbers and inputting data. For those that hold this opinion I can confirm that this simply isn’t the case. Not at iProspect.