When AI Isn’t Enough: The Role of Humans in Marketing

Data server to power AI

There is no debating the impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has had on the marketing world. 

Ever since OpenAI released a free preview of ChatGPT in late 2022, marketers have latched on to countless new apps and solutions with the hope of harnessing the efficiency and speed of AI. To the casual observer, it’s as if AI is a shiny new object never before used by savvy marketers. 

AI in marketing is not new – at least not in the sense that AI solutions didn’t exist prior to the release of ChatGPT. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is in large part a reaction to AI working behind the scenes to rank websites for tech behemoths like Google and Bing. Ad auctions, analytical tools, recommendation systems, and more have existed thanks to the early application of AI. 

Throughout its history and up to today AI has empowered marketers with the ability to deliver data analysis, customer insights, and efficient campaign delivery systems. However, it’s not the whole story. 

Given that marketing involves motivating buyers to take action, true marketing excellence requires emotional intelligence, nuanced judgment, and creativity, which only humans can provide. 

Where AI Falls Short

“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” – HAL 9000

The rush to launch AI across all industries in every facet of life has driven many people to question the very future existence of humans altogether. 

Will AI destroy the future of work? Will AI become sentient? Will AI launch millions of HALs and Terminators to exterminate all humans on Earth? 

Thanks to clickbait titles and breathless concerns in the chattering media sphere, we’re all left to wonder how humans could possibly maintain a plausible future when AI seems to be so perfect. 

But any experienced marketer could tell you – at least as it applies to our industry – that AI has a long way to go before it could successfully run marketing campaigns on its own. There are plenty of ways that AI gets it wrong. 

AI Hallucinations

We’ll start the most discussed problem with AI. All too often AI generates misleading or incorrect results, also known as “hallucinations”. It stands to reason terrible results happen when AI uses an insufficient data model, poor training, and incomplete and biased information. 

One need only look at Google’s terrible launch of Gemini to see that AI isn’t quite up to the task of running all things marketing. Gemini is but one example of how hallucinations can lead marketers down a bad path. Other tech bigwigs are admitting that AI hallucinations may never go away completely. We still need humans to look at the output of AI and blow the whistle when bad results appear. 

Context and Nuance

AI often misses the subtleties of cultural contexts and local trends. It’s no surprise, really, that AI is late to recognize things happening in “the real world” of humans. That’s not to suggest that AI applications can’t make predictions or even use advanced analysis to identify a future behavior. But how those behaviors manifest themselves with actual humans still eludes the blinking red eyes of AI systems. 

This lack of context and nuance can potentially lead to tone-deaf results. Nothing can kill a marketing plan like missing the mark with your messaging. 

Emotional Connection

News flash: robots don’t have emotions. 

Genuine emotional engagement is a human trait. AI lacks the empathy needed to create heartfelt connections with customers. Once you’ve read hundreds of AI-generated content pieces, you start to develop a keen sense for what is human and what is not. 

Although AI-generated content is technically grammatically correct, obvious patterns frequently appear. Long complex sentences. Lack of original writing techniques. A genuine lack of spark. 

Have you ever read content pieces that start with:

In the fast-paced world of marketing… 


We at Divining Point understand the importance of… 

These are akin to verbal tics and crutch words that AI leans on to give content a certain relatability for human readers. However, the end result lacks the emotion, originality, or innovative thinking that only humans can provide. 

Lack of Marketing Prowess

We’re adding this one simply as a warning. 

AI is guilty of producing bad results when the humans guiding the process lack the experience and expertise to generate quality marketing material on their own. Garbage in, garbage out. 

This happens when clients – or the cost-cutting decision makers at companies – decide that they can spend less money by enlisting inexperienced employees or off-shore teams using AI tools to handle their marketing. 

To put it bluntly, this is the blind leading the blind. 

A business can dig itself into a really deep, dark hole by letting costs be the deciding factor when it comes to marketing. While AI-generated marketing, in the hands of inept individuals no less, may check off certain boxes in your cost-cutting plan, it can also lead you into financial ruin. 

Ask yourself this: who do you trust more, an authentic brand that understands your pain and speaks directly to your needs OR a tone-deaf voice that makes factual mistakes, lacks empathy, and uses predictable patterns of speech? 

It’s guaranteed that your buyers will gravitate towards those companies that invest in quality marketing that connects with them on a personal level. 

The Human Advantage

There is no doubt that AI is a powerful tool for marketers. Yet, it still requires experienced human brains to guide it toward success. What AI lacks, humans still have with abundance. Here are the ways that humans make the difference in marketing today. 

Interpreting Insights

AI provides data, but it takes human insight to interpret this data in a meaningful way. AI excels at identifying patterns, pointing out errors, or isolating blips in large bodies of data. But an experienced marketer is required to recognize the significance of these anomalies. A human can furthermore align these insights with a brand’s unique vision.

AI can produce reams of data at a speed that humans can’t replicate. But what happens with that data is the sole responsibility of the humans that interpret it. 

We’ve run across countless examples where the data on its own doesn’t reveal a problem with a campaign. We’ve even had to review data outputs over and over before understanding what the hell is actually happening. 

Sometimes we’ve had to analyze different metrics and KPIs, then cross reference that with trends, then think objectively about what’s happening across a market, then think of the season or time of the year before we can fully understand why a campaign is performing the way it is. 

Strategic Decisions

Beyond data, strategic decisions require experience, intuition, and an understanding of brand values that AI simply can’t replicate.

Remember AI hallucinations? Imagine leaving strategy up to AI. One bad decision can result in a cascade of unintended consequences that in turn delivers waning revenue. 

Are humans guilty of bad strategy? Certainly. But humans are aware when bad decisions lead to tragic results, and they can course correct easier than an AI system run amok. Humans are also more likely to accept responsibility for bad strategy and develop creative solutions to fix their mistakes. 

Authentic Connections

It goes without saying that a human can connect with another human better than a robot. Building trust and genuine relationships with customers is a human endeavor. Personalized, empathetic communication is where humans excel.

That may present itself within human-centric messaging or with a personalized strategy to intimately touch a buyer right when they’re ready to buy. 

Since AI is still guilty of adding fingers and additional breasts to its creative work, humans are still fundamental to developing visual storytelling that achieves an emotional connection with your buyer. 

Striking the Right Balance

Do we at Divining Point use AI for marketing? Absolutely. 

However, we are also very aware of its limitations. We responsibly employ AI for those roles where it excels. Data output. Formatting. Generating outlines or broad bodies of content. 

We then use human oversight to catch errors and contextual inaccuracies. We cut out the garbage and apply a human voice and depth of understanding to leverage AI outputs for greater marketing success. 

We never use AI for strategy, and we never expect AI to fully understand the motivations of buyers. We are experienced marketers that leverage data and human creativity to generate marketing campaigns that deliver measurable results. AI is just a tool that helps us do it faster. 

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