Skip to main content

Balancing the 'data-centric' and 'human-centric' approaches to marketing

Paul Newman Archive

In marketing, there's a growing belief that mining for information and analyzing it is the key to getting ahead. In an increasingly competitive business world, companies need a way to get a leg up on their rivals, and many are convinced that data quality is the way to go.

At the same time, it's important to understand the context that surrounds all of a company's data. Gathering good information is important, but it's only one piece of a larger puzzle.

Harvard Business Review recommends that companies focus on both the "data-centric" and "human-centric" aspects of building an intelligent brand. Jake Sorofman and Andrew Frank, marketing analysts at Gartner, believe that both elements are equally important.

"Data can play a leading role in developing strategy and bringing precision to execution, but it does nothing - absolutely nothing - to stir motivation and create the desire that makes cash registers ring," the experts explained. "Data is important, but it's content that makes an emotional connection."

A combination of the two, therefore, is the right model for success.

A strategic framework
Marketing strategies can be dramatically improved by focusing on quality data. Companies can use survey groups to gauge public opinions, getting a handle on each demographic and how they'll react to a new product or marketing campaign. They can perform analyses on people's sentiments and monitor how their opinions are changing over time.

Of course, the human-centric approach to marketing is important as well. Business leaders can rely on the crowdsourcing strategy to engage in real conversations with consumers that consider their emotional states and individual opinions. Data can absolutely be helpful in this process, but human interaction can also play a significant role.

An operational focus
Companies can also rely on analytics to improve their operations internally. For example, they can use high-quality clusters of data to segment the workforce and analyze where labor is strong, where it's weak and where improvements can be made. Accurate information about workflow can go a long way toward helping companies optimize their performance.

A human focus can also be beneficial internally, though. By engaging in "social listening" to get a handle on what workers think of their companies' approaches, HR leaders can develop the ability to consider people's opinions and deliver rapid-response modifications to their ways of doing work. Therefore, data and human interaction can work in concert to help companies improve.