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Resolving Creative Conflict Through Testing

Resolving Creative Conflict Through Testing

Written by John W. Hayes of

John W. Hayes is a marketing strategist who specialises in helping small and medium-sized businesses maximize their potential from email, social media and content marketing-led strategies.

How many times have you heard the following phrases when pitching new markting ideas to clients?

“I don’t like it.”

“I don’t know, it’s just not us.”

“That won’t work, why not try this instead.”

When you work in marketing everyone has an opinion on your creative output. Often they are wrong but because they pay your wages, you can feel the pressure to bow down to their “greater creative knowledge”.

When marketing is compromised like this, it loses its impact and often results in failure.

It’s time to fight back

I recently had a conversation with a marketer at a content marketing seminar I was hosting. He was completely sold on my approach to combining the power of content, email, and social media marketing but was having difficulty selling the concept to one of his clients.

While his client appreciated his ideas, they preferred their own (flawed) approach and dictated every move which ultimately blocked his more creative and agile ideas. As a professional marketer, he felt obliged to conform to his clients wishes. It pained him to know that his campaigns were not optimized and ultimately his relationship with the client would suffer.

It is not good business practice (it might even be commercial suicide) to argue with clients (or managers) about creative ideas and strategies.

In these cases there is only one answer to creative conflict: Testing.


Testing allows you to quickly and cheaply target a small group of people with a new campaign idea and then compare and contrast the results with existing marketing campaigns and strategies. If the test results are positive, it would be much easier to persuade a client to change their ideas and steer a new course of action. If test results are poor, you can move on to the next idea.

Note: A test cannot be considered a failure if you learn from the results (even if they are negative).

So next time a client tries to block your more creative ideas, instead of arguing with them, suggest you’d like to run some tests alongside their campaigns and try not to gloat when you prove them wrong.