What Is People-Based Marketing?

Sep 27, 2017


Disclaimer: This is a not-so-humble brag. But holy smokes, we won Agency of the Year!

Many of you might be thinking, well, you’re not really a creative shop, and you don’t do media buying, so how the heck could your customer transformation consultancy win agency of the year?

Ok, let’s give you some more context. We won the award in the category of People-Based Marketing, alongside brands like Spotify (Media) and Loews Hotels (Marketer). Does that clear up the confusion? No? I didn’t think so.

So, what exactly is “people-based marketing” you ask?

Not surprisingly, different organizations and publications define it in ways that fit their service offerings and audiences. Ask a more traditional marketer and the answer might simply be “the act of marketing to a specific person.” Hmmm. Isn’t that a bit like marketing 101 and how direct marketing has traditionally been defined?

MediaPost, on the other hand, refers to it as “using data and technology to reach real people.” Ok—now we’re getting somewhere.


At Elicit, we speak of people-based marketing as “an approach that integrates customer-level interaction data and a deep customer understanding to deliver the right experience to a real person at the right time.”

Let’s break it down.

What differs in our definition is that it highlights that marketing is no longer just about marketing. The marketer’s skillset is rapidly changing and hybrid roles are in demand. Marketers not only need to be strategists, but they also need to think and act like technologists and analysts.

People-Based Marketing is reliant on an integrated customer interaction technology stack (what some might refer to as the martech stack), a customer foundation comprised of behavioral analytics and research to create a single view of the customer, and a strategic playbook (e.g., connections plan) to actually curate dynamic, personally relevant experiences.


The concept of people-based marketing has been around since 2014 when Facebook coined the term upon rolling out their Custom Audience solution. It was a promise to marketers, offering a less complicated mechanism of reaching the right consumer with the right content.

It’s just now that we as marketers are experiencing the shift towards true people-based marketing, beyond the bounds of Facebook. However, the shift shouldn’t be thought of as a functional discipline but rather a strategic mind shift for a business to focus on making the connection between people, data, and devices.

For all of my fellow marketers, when was the last time you thanked your IT team or your data and analytics teams? The power and intricacies of building these relationships is often overlooked, but without them, marketing is, well, just marketing.

It truly is an honor to be recognized as Agency of the Year, especially when it comes to people-based marketing!

Check out Mark Gonzales, one of our chief Geeks, as he discusses the fundamentals of people-based Marketing at the MediaPost OMMA conference.

Check out the Geek Nerd Suit website to see how well your company fares when it comes to people-based marketing.