Back in June, Liz received an email with a simple subject line: “provocative email on content creation.” Within it, she found an article by Jay Acunzo entitled “Confessions of a Content Creator: I Don’t Care About Data.”
In this article, Acunzo admits that he knows he should care about data, but… he doesn’t. Nor does he think he should have to. He goes on to say:
Here’s the thing: I’m far from alone in feeling this way. There are others like me, others who create content for a living — damn good content at that — and we don’t really think about data all that much. We’re walking among you right now, working on your teams, attending your meetings, nodding at our CMO’s shouts of MQLs and monthly lead-gen metrics.
We pretend to care. But we don’t really care.
We really care about our craft.
It took a couple of months for Liz to calm down from her angst over this article, but in this episode we both dig deep to determine if he’s right or wrong in whether or not creatives or content creators should care about data.
And while we both went into this episode thinking our stances were fairly cut and dry, we surprised ourselves with a deeper conversation about what we do and how we do it than I think either of us expected…
Listen to this Episode:
So, What Did We Talk About?
- How Liz (the only child) felt abandoned by everyone going on vacation.
- From our different perspectives – me as the Art Director and Liz as the Content Manager – how much does data influence our own work currently?
- What we liked about the article – because his arguments weren’t without merit.
- Does data play any role in the creative decision-making process? Should it?
- We also talked a lot about Moneyball, Billy Beane and the power of data in that story.
- How much does data influence us on a subconscious level? Can we really get away from it?
- Do we need to be formulaic to some degree in order to be successful?
- The difference between creating for yourself and creating for others.
Here’s What We Had to Say:
“I’ve gotta say – you showed me this article. You were very rage-y, and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to get on board with this, and I’m going to rip it to shreds.’ And then I read it, and… I didn’t disagree with him.”
“Yes, I do look at the data. I do look at the numbers, and that certainly fuels decisions. But when it comes down to me sitting down and creating something from nothing, I’m not necessarily saying, ‘Okay, what are my data points? Do I use blue or orange here?'”
“There’s a lot of gut intuition that happens when you’re being creative that I don’t think gets enough credit anymore.”
“Yes, I can sit there and draw you a photorealistic still life. But did I enjoy doing that? No, I frickin’ hated it.”
“The [marketing] world has become crowded. It’s become saturated with mediocre content.”
“Data isn’t a dirty word. If you break it down, data is essentially a numerical representation of people and behavior. It’s a very human thing.”
“I want my content to get found, because I want to help people answer their questions. And I want people to find my beautiful work. So if I’m not even taking keyword research into account when I’m doing my work… no one would ever see that really great content that I spent hours and hours slaving over.”
“I don’t think incorporating data into my work is mutually exclusive with flexing my creative chops.”
A Correction and a Note
In this episode, we noted that Acunzo said in the article that he worked at a digital marketing agency. In fact, he only made mention of working in digital marketing – sans “agency.” It was an unintentional oversight/assumption, but still, we made a mistake, and we’re sorry about that.
Also, as we said in the episode, we want to say that while we disagreed in some respects with his position, we really loved (a) how he wrote it, and (b) that he gave us such a great opportunity to have what ended up being a more dimensional discussion than I think either of us expected. (And Jay, if you ever want to reach out and say hi, we would relish the opportunity!)