As a marketer, I am intrigued by the extensive potential of Large Language Models (LLMs) and the innovative platforms built upon them. I am also bracing for the changes coming to businesses and organizations across the globe. In an era of rapid and transformative change, there is an overwhelming amount of information to absorb, comprehend, and process, in order to identify future growth opportunities and address challenges that may arise.
I wanted to share my current thoughts regarding AI and navigating the future of marketing in this swiftly evolving ecosystem. Please bear in mind that these are merely my personal musings based on my ongoing learnings. I can’t predict the future, and unfortunately, no one really seems to know where we are heading. Even experts in the field acknowledge that there are many unknown factors, including the precise capabilities of Large Language Models (LLMs).
That said, there are fundamental aspects of marketing and human behavior that don’t change, regardless of the technology. I think focusing on those constants gives us a path to follow when it comes to preparing for the near future.
Ready to dive in? In this post we’ll explore:
- Strategically Incorporating AI into Your Workflow Starting Now
- A New Study Shows AI Reduces the Skill Gap
- Prepare for Heightened Competition and Excessive Noise
- AI Search and Its Implications
- Potential AI Backlash
- Where Do We Go from Here?
- Aim to Become a Trusted Friend
- Invest in Marketing Channels You Own: Email and Text
- Create Community and Embrace Familiarity
(A heads up: This post may contain an affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission.)
Strategically Incorporate AI into Your Workflow Starting Now
I’m in the camp that believes that within the next few years, many professions will experience a massive shift in the way work is done. It’s important to start experimenting with AI tools now in order to understand how they operate and to stay relevant during a time of profound transformation.
Marketing, in particular, is already witnessing the transformative influence of LLM platforms like ChatGPT on copywriting and creative work.
While there are hundreds of new tools built on LLMs, the traditional marketing product brands are also touting their AI capabilities. In the past few months, Google Workspace, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, Adobe, Semrush, and many other established marketing and creative platforms have introduced AI capabilities.
To remain relevant, it is imperative for organizations to embrace these tools to enhance efficiency while remaining cognizant of their potential limitations.
A New Study Shows AI Reduces the Skill Gap
A recent AI research paper showed that AI assistance can dramatically enhance professional performance. The study, conducted on highly trained knowledge workers at Boston Consulting Group, assessed 18 different business skills, such as analysis, idea generation, and persuasion.
The results showed that consultants who had previously scored in the lower half of the group experienced a 43% improvement in the quality of their outputs when aided by AI, whereas the top half only saw a 17% improvement. This led to a significant reduction in the performance gap between the highest and lowest performers, dropping from 22% to just 4% after the utilization of GPT-4 by the consultants. The verdict: AI levels the playing field of professional expertise.
In keeping with the findings of this study, I anticipate that the data analysis capabilities of LLMs will allow marketers to develop more effective strategies. I also expect the time required to bring an idea to market will decrease significantly due to the faster content development speed.
Brands will always need marketers who have a deep understanding of their target audiences, the competitive landscape, and customer behavior nuances to effectively utilize the capabilities of LLMs. It’s crucial for marketers to develop the skills now to become that strategic, AI-literate individual that organizations need.
Prepare for Heightened Competition and Excessive Noise
Forbes Advisor reports that there are currently 1.13 billion websites worldwide. Unfortunately, many of them generate a considerable amount of meaningless content. This trend will only intensify with time. As technology allows anyone to generate hundreds of words of text within seconds, the volume of digital content will inevitably skyrocket.
I anticipate that this avalanche of content will make it increasingly challenging for brands to connect with their target audiences. Simultaneously, for consumers it will be harder to find meaningful content that they believe is trustworthy.
Brands that understand their customers’ needs and desires and have a solid reputation for serving customers well will be better positioned to succeed in the cacophony of content coming our way. A British study showed that customers buy more from brands they trust.
AI search and Its Implications
Every AI expert whom I follow believes that AI search will have a negative impact on website traffic generated through search. However, there is no consensus on the extent of this impact. While some foresee minor consequences, others suggest a catastrophic outcome for brands.
I anticipate that brands will need to be prepared to put more investment into paid search to drive traffic to their websites. Google has a financial incentive to maintain the search component of its business, given it is a significant revenue stream. Consequently, it seems unlikely that search will disappear entirely. However, I suspect it will become even more difficult for most organizations to drive traffic to their website through organic means.
Potential AI Backlash
When I studied graphic design and in college, I noticed that throughout the 20th century, there seemed to be a push and pull between industrial design styles and organic styles. As I’ve reflected on this over time, I believe at some point every art and design movement grows stale, and there is a backlash to the values of that movement.
I believe we see the same thing with technology adoption. The dawn of the 21st century brought the internet, social media, fast fashion, and fast interior design to everyone. Then we saw the rise of Etsy and a higher value on handmade goods.
I anticipate we will see this same type of push and pull with AI. Right now, it’s new and exciting technology, but I suspect that within a few years, we will see a shift to people wanting more authentic, human interactions. There are many communications and psychology studies that demonstrate that humans need interaction with other humans.
AI will provide many efficiencies, and we will never go back to the way it was before, but I anticipate that there will also be an opportunity for organizations to capitalize on fulfilling the need for human interaction.
Where do We Go from Here?
Taking all of this into account, the big questions in my mind are:
- If generating search traffic is more difficult, what does a brand need to do to compete?
- If there is a backlash to AI content, what opportunities exist to serve customers who are disillusioned by AI?
Aim to Become a Trusted Friend
First and foremost, the primary emphasis should be on providing genuine value and building trust. This is a fundamental aspect of marketing, and I anticipate it will be even more important as we move forward.
Ideally, you want your customers to habitually turn to your brand as a primary source of valuable information, rather than relying on AI or search engines. I recommend prioritizing these marketing activities:
- Endeavor to deeply understand your customers’ needs and aspirations and show how your brand helps customers achieve what they desire. Do your best to make your customers feel cared about.
- If you haven’t done so already, create a strategy to become the trusted source in your brand’s market space for content relevant to customers’ needs and aspirations.
- Prioritize high-quality customer service.
Invest in Marketing Channels You Own: Email and Text
I anticipate that as the proliferation of AI content grows, email and text messaging will be increasingly important for brands. Despite being considered outdated by some, data consistently shows that email marketing is an exceptionally effective medium. Moreover, email and text are the only channels where you have ownership of your contact records, and you can see individual interaction data. With an AI-powered CRM to help, your organization can analyze user behavior for deeper insights and better marketing results.
The key to successful email and text messaging is (once again) providing genuine value to your audience, which motivates them to open your emails and texts.
If your organization habitually sends emails solely focused on your brand, rather than addressing the needs and aspirations of your target audience, I encourage you to shift your approach. To provide value, your marketing efforts must center around the customer and clearly articulate how your brand supports their goals. Research shows that personalization can increase revenue by 10 to 15 percent.
Create Community and Embrace Familiarity
If there is a backlash to AI content, as I anticipate there will be, people will be looking to interact with humans they trust. Consumers already gravitate toward businesses that engage with them on a more personal level, and I believe this trend will increase.
What are some ideas to achieve this?
- I encourage companies to highlight their founder’s story. Be open with consumers about why your organization exists and how your brand fills a need in the marketplace.
- I think there may also be an opportunity to revitalize membership organizations. While membership organizations have struggled in recent years, as AI changes the human experience, I anticipate an opportunity for organizations to provide value by bringing like-minded people together.
- Finally, make sure your brand has a human face. There is already data that shows consumers like buying from brands where they feel like they know the people who work there. Whether it’s through video or podcasting, let consumers see the people behind your brand.