Data Lovers vs Creatives: How to Bridge the Gap in Your Marketing Organization

Written by: Patrick Kilgore on 7/5/16 11:39 AM


Marketing has always required creativity. It’s still one of the most important parts of building and executing a marketing plan that pays off. But with the rise of technology and the data-driven marketing it enables – marketing departments now need a healthy number of data scientists to balance out creative personnel.

This can create a sense of factionalism. On the one hand, you have the artists that want to go after great ideas and follow passion. On the other you have the data geeks who tie it all back to revenue. If this were an 80’s movie, the data team would wear expensive suits and be positioned as the bad guys trying to stifle the heroes’ artistic vision.

Luckily, most marketing professionals understand that good marketing requires a mix of both. Some individuals in marketing even possess skills that transcend the divide. Even so, there’s still room for conflict or tension between the logical, data-driven side of marketing and the creative side. That tension doesn’t serve anybody well.

If you want your data lovers and creative marketers to get along, we’ve got a few suggestions for tactics you can take to keep the peace.

  1. Keep the communication lines open.

Make it easy for team members in all your departments to stay in contact throughout the quarter, not just during periodic meetings. Both your data analysts and your creative employees benefit from staying in the know about what the others are doing.

Your creative employees should receive regular updates about your marketing analytics, particularly as the information relates to the specific work they do. And your data experts should have a pretty clear idea of what your creative team is working on at any given moment via a content calendar so they know what data and insights are most important for different individuals in the department.

  1. Make sure high-level goals are clear and every team member’s goals are aligned to them.

One of the biggest ways to keep your various employees on the same page is to make sure they’re all working toward the same thing (and know it). In theory, it should be obvious that everyone in a company is working toward the same goals. In practice, especially at large enterprises, it’s easy for individual employees and teams to get mired in the smaller-level focus of their particular responsibilities and fail to see the big picture of how their work and results relate to everyone else’s.

To keep that from becoming a problem, every employee should be made fully aware of the high-level goals of the company that everyone’s working toward. And each department and team should be expected to make sure that their particular goals are designed to help the company meet its larger goals.

If your creative employees feel their goal is solely to produce a certain quantity of output, then they have little reason to listen or care much when your analytics team provides information on how their campaigns are performing. They need to have a stake in the results of their work as well. 

  1. Provide incentives for creatives to meet data-driven goals.

You want your creative team thinking about those high-level goals and paying attention to the results that help them track how well their work is achieving them. You should give them a tangible reason to care about the marketing analytics your data team shares – one that makes them more willing to put the work in to gain improved results.

That means putting your money (or some kind of benefit your employees care about) where your mouth is. That could be in the form of bonuses, extra vacation time, employee parties or lunches – something that makes it clear that their successes are appreciated. Provide an appealing goal to work toward on the way to helping you realize larger organizational goals.  

  1. Do still reward and encourage creativity though.

You don’t want to reach the point where data has completely replaced creativity. Good marketing requires both. And while your creative team needs to care about data, your data lovers have to bring some creativity to what they do in order to make sense of the figures they analyze.

Numbers are useful, but you need to be able to turn those numbers into a story if you want your marketing analytics to empower your team to reach your audience more effectively.

Make sure you don’t drop the ball on encouraging creativity throughout your department. Bring both teams together in brainstorming meetings designed to turn the data you have into actionable insights you can use. Bring your creative team in to help your data analysts understand how your audience thinks and feels – a necessary part of the equation to effectively analyze data.

And make sure to encourage a culture where ideas are valued and (some) risks are still taken. Following the data’s important, but sometimes ideas that fall outside of what’s been tested before – in other words, things that you don’t have any data on yet – are worth trying too.

  1. Provide opportunities for purely fun social interactions.

One of the best ways to break down boundaries between different employees is to create opportunities for friendship. Provide space for your different teams to interact outside of the pressures of work.

Have your team leave the office early every so often for purely social, team building activities. Make sure everyone’s invited to the same holiday parties and see if there’s interest in company sports teams. It’s a lot harder to feel professional tension or hostility toward the co-worker you sang a karaoke duet with last month or the teammate who won last week’s kickball game.

Marketing professionals who socialize together will see each other as friends as well as colleagues. Communication’s that much easier when you actually know and like each other.


The intersection of data and creativity is where truly great marketing happens. Help make that intersection easy and everyone in your marketing department will benefit.

Icon made by Freepik from is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Topics: Hive9