Artificial intelligence is everywhere in marketing right now. But there’s a sharp breakdown between AI as a test or a pilot and AI that’s doing real work. We’re past the point of AI pilots in marketing. Instead, in 2024, it’s time to put AI to work in your marketing.
Why is that important? What does putting AI to work in your marketing mean? And, most importantly, how can you get started? That’s what this episode of the Thinks Out Loud podcast is all about.
Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.
2024 Predictions: Putting AI in Marketing to Work (Thinks Out Loud Episode 409) Headlines and Show Notes
Show Notes and Links
- Usain Bolt – Wikipedia
- IMF chief says AI could disrupt nearly 40% of global employment ahead of Davos | CNN Business
- AI Will Transform the Global Economy. Let’s Make Sure It Benefits Humanity.
- Executives say they’re not ready for AI
- Is Google Doomed? And Other Top Digital Trends for 2024 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 408)
- Is It Time for Your Marketing Team to Use AI? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 405)
- Building a Human Brand in the Age of AI (Thinks Out Loud Episode 398)
- Rethinking Search Marketing in the Age of AI (Thinks Out Loud Episode 397)
- Anticipating Radical Shifts in Consumer Behavior from AI Adoption: A Look into the Future (Thinks Out Loud Episode 396)
- Your AI-powered Copilot for the Web | Microsoft Bing
- Copilot Pro Plan & Pricing – Latest AI Models, Chat Tool & Assistant | Microsoft Store
You might also enjoy this webinar I recently participated in with Miles Partnership that looked at "The Power of Generative AI and ChatGPT: What It Means for Tourism & Hospitality" here:
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- A Brief Introduction to Thinks Out Loud. As a bonus, we’ve also included this PDF document that highlights some of our core episodes to help you dig into what the show is about. We think it will help you capture the show’s essence while you’re working your way through the 300-plus episodes published so far. Download it here.
- Digital & E-commerce Maturity Matrix. As a bonus, here’s a PDF that can help you assess your company’s digital maturity. You can use this to better understand where your company excels and where its opportunities lie. And, of course, we’re here to help if you need it. The Digital & E-commerce Maturity Matrix rates your company’s effectiveness — Ad Hoc, Aware, Striving, Driving — in 6 key areas in digital today, including:
- Customer Focus
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Transcript: 2024 Predictions: Putting AI in Marketing to Work
Well, hello again, everybody, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, this is episode 409 of The Big Show, and welcome back. I think we’ve got a really cool show for you today. I want to build on the discussion that we were having last week about the big trends that are going to shape 2024.
Just as was the case in 2023, I think that AI will continue to be a big trend. I know that I’m not going out on a big limb suggesting this. What I think is true, though, is we’re entering a space where it’s less about, oh, "are we doing something with AI?" and more about "What is AI doing for us?" In other words, it’s about being accountable for what you’re doing with AI to your business and to your customers.
As I noted last week, marketers are going to be asked to do more with less. They’re going to be asked to be more accountable for the results any time things get a little tougher. And right now, people are concerned that the economy is going to be kind of wacky. It’s important that you’re able to demonstrate value to your organization.
So it can’t just be, "oh, we’re using AI" or "we’re trying AI". It’s got to be, "here’s how we are using AI to accomplish a specific objective." And we’re going to talk about this a lot over the course of the episode.
What I want to do to start though is take a big step back. And maybe recontextualize artificial intelligence for you and how you might want to think about it. And it’s based on some data that’s coming around right now that I’ll get to in just a moment. I use an analogy all the time where I say that I can’t beat Usain Bolt in a foot race. You all know Usain Bolt, the legendary runner who won a gazillion world championships and Olympic medals. You know, there’s no way if he and I line up alongside, even retired, that I win. He’s going to smoke me every time, right? I can’t beat him in a race. But put me in a Toyota, and I’m going to kick his ass. There’s no two ways about it. I’m just going to be faster, by definition.
That’s what AI does for the people on your team. That’s what AI does for you. It gives you a car, or it gives you a horse, or it gives you a tool that you can put to use that even the best in the world may not have access to all the time. That analogy is probably even more accurate than I intended it to be when I first started using it. Because I’m only comparing my driving a car to Usain Bolt’s running. If you put him in a Toyota though, and I think he kicks my ass. I, plain and simple. Because he’s better suited to make the most of the advantages that technology offers him. He’s got more experience running races, he’s certainly going to be better at that. He’s got way faster reaction times. So, you know, you put two people who are unequal in their abilities with the same tech helping them out, and probably the person who’s more capable is going to do better.
So sure, a less capable runner, i. e. me, in a car is going to do better against the best runner. But the best runner in a car, or the best racer anyway in a car, is going to beat the average or mediocre, you know, racer. Because they’re just more skilled. They’re more able to take advantage of their skills and the skills of the technology, or the abilities of the technology, to improve.
Now, I’m not the only one who thinks this, there’s new research from the International Money Fund that suggests AI will "disrupt" almost 40 percent of the jobs around the world. I want to be really clear, you’re going to want to read this research for yourself, because "disrupt" in that sentence is doing a ton of work.
And I think you’re going to see it get misrepresented a lot in headlines and in articles and in blog posts and the like. Pay attention to what that actually said, because it doesn’t say that 40 percent of jobs go away. It doesn’t say that 40 percent of the tasks in every job will go away. It simply says that artificial intelligence will "disrupt" almost 40 percent of the jobs around the world.
And here’s what that means. There’s a key sentence in the post on the IMF’s website that talks about this. This is a quote: "In advanced economies, about 60 percent of jobs may be impacted by AI. Roughly half the exposed jobs may benefit from AI integration, enhancing productivity."
I’m going to read that again because that’s a really critical point. "Roughly half the exposed jobs may benefit from AI integration enhancing productivity." That’s Usain Bolt in a car. You know, the post does worry about artificial intelligence increasing economic inequality, particularly for people in low income and emerging market countries.
It goes on to say, and again, this is a quote, "Many of these countries don’t have the infrastructure or skilled workforces to harness the benefits of AI, raising the risk that over time the technology could worsen inequality among nations." I think that’s important research to be aware of. And I want to be very clear, I’m not an economist. I’m not a world leader. Instead, I think about how these sorts of things apply to the business world. As it happens, so does the IMF. They note, and again, this is a quote, "AI could affect income and wealth inequality within countries. We may see polarization within income brackets, with workers who can harness AI seeing an increase in their productivity and wages, and those who cannot falling behind."
It goes on to say that "research shows that AI can help less experienced workers enhance their productivity more quickly. Younger workers may find it easier to exploit opportunities, while older workers could struggle to adapt."
Now again, note what they’re saying here. AI can make poor performers more productive more quickly. But the long term benefits are going to be to those who actually put the tool to work most effectively. And that’s really what I want to talk about today. It’s really the point that I want you to be aware.
Everybody, every company is using AI to some degree. Not everybody at every company, but every company has somebody who’s trying to put AI to work for either the business at large or themselves personally. That’s a fact.
And you’re not going to succeed by ignoring that reality. If you want to be able to win the race in the long term, you have to be running it the same way that the people you’re running against are. You have to be using the same advantages that they are. If everybody else is in a car and you’re running on foot, I don’t care how fast you are, eventually you’re going to lose, so you’ve got to get in the car at some point.
I’d argue that that point is today.
I’m also convinced that the companies who execute will do better than the ones who simply acquire the most tools. Buying the car doesn’t do you any good if you don’t actually drive it in the right direction. Execution matters. I’m going to ask you a question. Do you really think that the company or the team or the individual that wins is going to be the one that buys the best tool?
Of course not.
It’s the company or the team or the person who puts those tools to work who win. It’s the ones who take care of their customers, who put those tools to work to improve customer acquisition, customer experience, customer retention. The ones that make their teams and the individuals on those teams more effective and more efficient. The ones that give their teams the right tools that integrate AI into their marketing and sales activities, all of their operations, who will do better than those who just buy a car. Ideally, if you can pair Usain Bolt’s on your team with Toyota’s and Ferrari’s, you’re going to win a lot more races than if you’re just trying to run the way you do today.
Another thing that I want to encourage you to remember is that we are still somewhat in the relatively early innings of artificial intelligence and how we use it in business and how we use it in marketing and how we use it in sales. No one has all the answers here. I don’t have all the answers by any stretch. This is a complicated topic and it seems like there’s a lot of people still figuring out how they’re going to use this in the longer term. Just like we did when the social came around. Just like we did when mobile came around. Just like we did when the internet came around.
People who I consider much smarter than me on these topics seem to be confused still about where we’re end up because we don’t really know. It’s very hard to predict the future. In some cases, they might even be a little more confused, which strikes me as a sign that I need to keep learning. I need to keep asking better questions.
Somebody asked me the other day, you know, who’s going to win? And honestly, I don’t know. We’re in a bit of a gold rush at the moment, though. And I’m reasonably confident that the big winners during a gold rush tend to be the people selling the picks and shovels. So, you know, Amazon with AWS, and Google with Google Cloud, and Microsoft with Azure, and Adobe, and OpenAI, and Salesforce, and HubSpot. They’re probably going to win at least in the immediate term.
I can’t guarantee somebody isn’t going to come along six months from now, or nine months from now, or a year from now, or two years from now, you know, the proverbial "two kids in a garage," who’ve thought about AI in a completely new way, who might beat them. I don’t know. We can’t know that.
What I do know is we need to keep asking the right questions. Worrying about who’s going to win isn’t necessarily the best question if the answer isn’t you.
The questions that I think you should be asking are the same questions we always come to when it comes to strategy. What won’t change? What should we expect to stay the same?
And I don’t think the answer is "nothing."
I think there are a number of things that are always important regardless of how sophisticated or how impressive a new tool might be or a new set of tools might be. You know, I would start by asking, what are your objectives? What do you want AI or artificial intelligence to do for you, your career, your business, your long term success? What do you need it to do that you’re not already getting somewhere else? How do your investments in artificial intelligence benefit your customers?
We always want to keep our customers top of mind. The first job of business is to create a customer. How will your investments in artificial intelligence benefit your top line and your bottom line? You know, are you doing this to grow revenues? Are you doing this to control costs? Are you doing it to do both? And as you think about those — your objectives, the benefits to your customers, the benefits to your top line, the benefits to your bottom line — you also want to say, “Cool, what are the next steps? What’s the next thing that I should be doing?"
Well, there are four areas that I think I would look at as the next steps.
First, take a look at your existing tool set. Most of them are incorporating AI in some way, shape, or form. If you’re using, if you’re like most companies, you’re using a number of different tools to help with your sales, to help with your marketing, to help with your customer experience, and your customer service, what AI capabilities are they adding to those tools right now?
And how can you better deploy them to improve? Some part of what you’re doing. Do you know how to put those tools to work for your business? Do you know how to use those in a way that benefit your customers? Because that’s a place I would look. You can start using AI right now with the things you already pay for.
Think about how those tools affect your planning, how they affect your product development, or your pricing, or your distribution of your products. Think in terms of how they can help you with content creation, or content distribution, or controlling your marketing spend, or improving your customer service, or driving better analytics around any or all of those.
Those are all opportunities that exist today, probably with tools that you already have in place. You don’t need to spend any more money, you don’t need to buy something new, you don’t need to implement something that you don’t have. Work with what you’ve got and see how it can be put to better use.
Another thing that you’re going to want to do is get yourself an account on OpenAI or use Microsoft Copilot on Bing and start using ChatGPT. Microsoft literally just announced some new products today, the day I’m recording this. So I haven’t had a chance to explore them in all the detail. It seems like they are getting better, but also you have to pay for them, whereas Bing Copilot or Microsoft Copilot on Bing Search used to be free, so you may be better served paying for OpenAI, but pick one or the other and start using it every single day.
Make sure your team does too. There was an article on Axios the other day that said if you’re going to look at this as some side initiative, a department of generative AI that’s going to come up with the use cases, it’s going to be a massive failure. That was Deloitte’s global CEO, Joe Okazaglo. I’m pretty sure I butchered his name, and I’m sorry, Joe, if you’re listening to this.
But, you know, if you’re doing this as a side project, it probably isn’t going to work. He went on to say, you need an ecosystem mindset. That’s really important. People should be using this in their work today. Yes, you need to put the right guardrails in place. Yes, you need to have the right governance. Yes, you need to have the right structures.
I don’t want to downplay that. I also want to say that you’re giving your team the tools to work with it so that they can actually get familiar with it. Remember, the teams that put these to use are going to be the most effective. The ones that integrate AI into their workday are going to be most effective.
With regard to that, in terms of don’t just have a side initiative, don’t just launch a pilot. I heard one person recently say that "when it comes to AI, they have more pilots than Delta, right?" You want to use these tools to solve an actual problem. Where is an area where you’re not getting what you need out of your existing tool set or out of your existing solutions or out of your existing processes?
Can you use AI to solve that? Give it a shot and take a look and see what you get out of it. And then the last thing, and I know I say this a lot, but you’ve got to keep learning. We’re in the early innings today, still, but it’s also time to get in the game. AI will definitely pass you by if you let it. So don’t let it.
Don’t let yourself lose the race without ever, ever getting off the starting line. You can’t beat Usain Bolt in a race if you stand still. The reality is the future of AI is going to be decided by the people who put it to work to improve their customer experience. It’s going to be decided by the people who put it to work to acquire more customers, to make those customers happy, and to grow their business.
I’m confident you can win this race. But it requires that you get in the car. So go ahead, hop in the car, and let me know how you’re making out. Because I can’t wait to see how far you run.
Next Week’s Show: Interview with Scott Cohen of Inbox Army
Now, since a lot of this episode has been talking about execution, I definitely want to let you know that we’re going to spend more time focusing on execution this year, including next week when we’re going to have an interview with Scott Cohen from Inbox Army, who’s going to talk about how you can improve your email marketing. That’s particularly important when AI might be the thing that is both reading and writing the emails that your customers receive. So I would encourage you to tune in for that. That’s going to be episode 410 of the podcast, and that’ll be out next week.
Show Wrap-Up and Credits
Of course, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week.
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