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Revisiting Does Marketing Have a Future?

Is content a strategic product: Two business professionals reviewing their company's content

Would you encourage a young person to get into marketing right now? Or do you think artificial intelligence will eliminate all the jobs? Does marketing have a future?

Let me put a stake in the ground right now: I would absolutely still encourage people to get into marketing. Marketing definitely has a future. But there’s a way I would think about marketing — and about a career in marketing — that matters more than ever. And that way is about people. It’s about customers. It’s about listening and learning. And it’s about collaborating with AI tools to provide better experiences, better outcomes, for your customers and for your business.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

Revisiting Does Marketing Have a Future? (Thinks Out Loud) — Headlines and Show Notes

Show Notes and Links

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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Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 20m 11s

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Transcript: Revisiting Does Marketing Have a Future? (Thinks Out Loud)

Well, hello again everyone, 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 384 of the big show, and thank you so much for tuning in. I think we’ve got a really cool episode for you today. I want to follow up in a weird way.

On an episode from a couple weeks ago at episode 383 that talked about how to add artificial intelligence to your team and in a much less weird way about an episode we’ve recorded quite some time ago about why AI won’t steal your job, but smart people who put AI to work will. That’s episode 208. I was having a conversation with somebody who’s relatively earlier in their career, uh, relatively early in their career.

They’ve been doing this for about five years in marketing, and they were worried almost to the point of panic about artificial intelligence and that it was going to ruin their career. They were worried that their skills may already be obsolete, and I have been an advocate for a long time. Again, going back to episode 208 about the fact that AI won’t steal your job, but smart people who put AI to work will.

And the more I had this conversation with this person, the more I wanted to be clear that I don’t know what’s going to happen with ai. Almost no one does. We are talking about tools that have been around in the sense that we mean it today since November. Right? I mean, we’re talking seven, eight months. I certainly have some ideas that I’ve talked about in the past and will link to in the show notes apart from the two episodes I’ve already mentioned.

I would also note that it’s understandable that people aren’t going to be comfortable with what’s going on currently. There is a lot of uncertainty and I think it would be foolish for anyone. Even me to say, you know, oh, I can tell you that this is exactly how, how it’s going to play out. I’ve been doing what I do for a very long time and I’ve made some pretty good predictions in the past, and I think I will probably continue to make some good predictions from time to time.

But we’re never a hundred percent sure. You’ve heard me talk about how I like to think about these things. You know, how much would I be willing to bet, how confident am I in any of those predictions? And I think it’s okay. I think it’s actually a really good idea to have a healthy uncertainty about what’s going on, to keep some sense of, of hility here.

We are not a hundred percent sure nobody can be a hundred percent sure. What I also think is true though, is that there are plenty of opportunities for people to succeed now and in the future. I’ve been in my career in digital for more than 25 years and worked, uh, professionally for more than 30 years.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, you know there’s an old proverb that says, man plans, God laughs. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the point. The reality is that you don’t have control over everything that happens in the world around you. Even the most thorough, well thought out plans often don’t play out the way you’d expect.

It also doesn’t mean you have no control or to put that more positively, it also means you do have some control over things that are your capabilities, right? Uh, I think about this a lot. If you’d asked me when I was in college, what I was going to do with my life, I knew exactly what the answer was. I was a music major and working in a recording studio at night, and I was going to produce records for a long time for big artists.

I was going to be the next George Martin or Mut Lang, and if you don’t know who they are, you should totally look them up. They’re super, super fascinating people who’ve had really interesting careers. Anyway. That didn’t happen. I did not become the George Martin or Mut Lang of my generation. I haven’t worked in the music industry in any real sense since, I don’t know, 1997 or so.

What’s funny though is I had a set of goals and those goals were, you know, I wanted to be creative and technical. I wanted a job that didn’t require me to do the same thing every day. I wanted it to work with lots of different people on lots of different projects. I wanted to be successful in my career, both financially and reputationally.

I. And I need to be clear, I don’t know that my goals were that well articulated as I’m saying them now, but they were certainly things that mattered to me. I knew what was important to me, what helped me feel energized about my work and my day-to-day life. And happily, all of those goals came to be just not the music industry.

I’m genuinely good with where I am in my life. I got what I wanted notice. Not one of those goals was work in the music industry for 30 years. Maybe if it had been, I’d still be working there. I don’t know. What’s true though is that I actually got what I wanted. I. I also think it’s interesting in a weird way that you know, I’m recording this podcast right now using technology that didn’t exist 30 years ago and creating, I think, reasonably high quality audio products that used to require hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars worth of equipment.

Yes, record producers still exist, but it’s not, you know, the job that it once was, technology disrupted a lot of that job and a lot of that industry. If we look at the music industry more broadly, there are a lot of elements of it today that are very different than what I thought I would be doing when I was in college.

So certainly we’ve seen this movie before. We’ve seen this playbook before where technology comes in and it disrupts industries and it changes. I also think there’s value in saying what is it you want to accomplish? Whether you’re talking about your individual life or whether you’re talking about your business, what do you want?

What would you like to see happen? How would you define success for you? Is your success as a marketer? Is your success as a business that you’re going to outrun AI at a return? That’s probably not the part you care about. You probably care about are you doing meaningful, fulfilling work? Are you creating products and the services that matter to your customers?

Are you helping people in their lives? I think that’s where I would encourage folks, like the person I was talking to or anyone listening to this podcast to think about the role of ai. You know, I mentioned this is in part a follow up to, you know, how you hire an artificial intelligence for your team.

And one of the things you have to start with is what do you want it to do? Every effective strategy starts with the vision of where you’re trying to go. The vision is critical because one of my favorite definitions of strategy comes from the book, being Strategic by Erica Anderson. Where she says, being strategic is consistently making the core directional choices that move you towards a desired outcome.

When you’re thinking about decisions that you face, should I take this job? Should we launch this campaign? Should we pursue this customer? You should be asking a question of, does that move us directionally towards where we’re trying to end up. And of course if you don’t know where you want to end up, it makes it very, very hard to know, are you making the right decisions that move you in that direction?

I want to go back to my, my history in the music industry or not as the case maybe, you know? , I started building websites while I was working in the music industry, and I, I realized I enjoyed that so much more than what my day job was. And when I started looking at, if I wanted to pursue working on the web, working with digital, working with the internet, and things like that, It was very easy for me to see that it checked all of the boxes of the things that were important to me, right?

I was being creative, but also technical. I was being able to work on lots of different projects with lots of different people. It didn’t require me to do the same thing every day. I got to learn all the time. And as it happens, it did lead me, in fact, to be successful financially and reputationally. So that vision matters and your vision cannot be, and I, I don’t mean this to be negative.

I always hate starting with a negative. But if your vision is, I’m going to lose to ai, I’m going to lose to artificial intelligence, I’m reasonably confident that’s going to be true. If you are listening to this today or you’re thinking about where you’re going in the future, and you find yourself saying, there’s no hope, there’s no possible way I can have a successful career because artificial intelligence is going to take that away from me.

I guarantee that at least the second half of that will be right. Someone will take it away from you. And it might be an ai, it might be a smart person using an ai, or it might be a smart person who doesn’t need AI because they’re just doing the work themselves. I don’t know which of those three will be true, but it’s pretty likely one of them will be.

So it becomes more a question of what is it that you want? What is it that drives you? What is it that you enjoy about the work? Because the more you understand that, the more you’re clear about that, the better a situation you’ll be in to make decisions along the way of, wait, does this move me closer to my goals, or does it move me further away from my goals?

I also want to acknowledge that bad luck is a thing. Good luck is a thing, right? Some of the successes I’ve had in my career were due to good luck. I’ve also known plenty of people and unfortunately lost some friends and family over the years who just had bad luck, right? Nobody has a goal to get cancer and I’m, I’m not using this in the abstract.

I’ve lost a brother and my sister to cancer. That was just bad luck. So, you know, I don’t want any part of this to be sitting in a place of privilege where I have been lucky and say I’ve accomplished everything that I’ve wanted to accomplish to this point in my life. Just because I worked harder just cuz I had really good goals.

There was an element of luck that’s always going to be true. What’s also true is that you have to have goals that are clear in your mind about what it is that’s important to you. So that when good luck comes along, you recognize it for what it is, and again, try to move in that direction, it’s possible that AI will take away a job that really matters to you.

You know, it certainly will take away tasks that you do today that I’m real confident about. I’ve, I’ve told this story more than once on this show, and possibly recently about the fact that my grandmother was a telephone operator. , you know, this is, goes back to the 1930s and 1940s, and she used to be the person who was plugging, you know, phone lines into a switchboard.

That job hasn’t existed in decades. I, I don’t know when it, when I went away. Exactly. I do know that in her lifetime, my grandmother was the only telephone operator I never met, so the job certainly doesn’t exist any longer. And it would be foolish to suggest that couldn’t be true for a job that interests you if you’re a young marketer or you’re somebody who’s new to the digital space or things like that.

What I think is also true is that customers still want people who can solve their problems. Employers still want people who can solve their problems. If you talk to people just in your day-to-day life, or you talk to business owners, or you talk to business leaders, or you talk to P business managers, you know, just folks working in a company and understand what causes them discomfort and pain.

And it could be trivial pains, you know, it could be day-to-day annoyances, or it could be major pains. And I mean this both, you know, physically or mentally. And you can help them make that pain go away. You can help them accomplish a goal. You can help them get rid of a challenge. You’re going to be fine for a long time.

You know? Yeah. AI may be able to come up with some of the solutions for that. But if you are the one who can help take that from, this is an idea to something that we can actually execute, something that we can actually deliver for our customers, for our business, you are going to be in great shape and you’re going to have a long and successful career.

Because fundamentally, that’s what actually gets people moving. That’s what actually gets people interested in working with you. Sure AI may be one of the tools you use to make that happen. Just as we use Google Docs today, or we use spreadsheets, or we use PowerPoint, or we use, you know, HTML and JavaScript and the tools underneath the hood in terms of web development.

But those tools have changed over the years too. That’s normal. This is just another tool, as long as you use it as one. So the advice I would give, the suggestion I would give is don’t make plans. Make goals. Be really clear about what’s important to you, what gets you out of bed in the morning, what gets you energized to connect with people and their problems, and think about how you can help them solve those problems.

And then I can’t guarantee that AI won’t change your job. I can’t guarantee that AI won’t help, you know, do the job in some ways. But I do guarantee that you will have a job for a long time helping your customers and you’ll end up where you want to be in the long run.

Show Closing and Credits

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for this episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 384.

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Show Outro

Finally, I know I say this every week, but I very much appreciate you listening. I would not do this show without you. It means so much to me that we can have a conversation and build this community together.

It means the world to me that you listen. It means the world to me that you comment. It means the world to me that you reach out to me on social. And I just love that we get to keep the dialogue going. So please, let’s keep the dialogue going. Go ahead, keep your emails coming. Keep pinging me on LinkedIn. Keep pinging me on Twitter. I love hearing from you. I love getting to chat with you about all of this each week.

With all that said, I hope you have an amazing rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as always, take care everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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