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What AI Will Do to Content Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 402)

Team collaborating on what artificial intelligence will do to content marketing

Artificial intelligence is already driving massive changes for Big Tech. It’s driving massive change for search engines and search marketing. It’s going to drive massive changes for your customers’ behaviors. And, for all these reasons, we need to talk about the massive changes that AI will bring to content marketing?

What are those changes you should expect? How will artificial intelligence change content marketing? How is it changing content marketing right now? And what can you do to ensure you’re getting the right value from artificial intelligence for your brand and your business? 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.

What AI Will Do to Content Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 402) Headlines and Show Notes

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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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Transcript: What AI Will Do to Content Marketing

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 402 of the big show. And thank you so much for tuning in. I very, very much appreciate it. I think we’ve got a really cool show for you today.

So, AI, obviously, has been a major trend for marketers in 2023, and will continue to be one next year, and probably the year after that, and probably the year after that, and I’ll have more on that in a future episode in a couple weeks time. What I know to be true is that in recent episodes, we’ve looked at AI and what it means for the future of big tech companies.

We’ve looked at AI and what it means for consumer behavior. We’ve looked at AI and search. We’ve looked at AI and how you can add it to your team. And of course, we’ve looked at ways you can prepare for each of these realities for your business. What we haven’t talked about, at least not at length, is what AI will do to your content marketing activities.

If you’re like most companies, content plays a key role in how you connect with customers. Yes, content is king. It is, of course, also your 24x7x365 salesperson. It’s your 24x7x365 customer service rep. It’s enormously important in how we create the experiences we create for our customers. So, what will AI do to content marketing for the rest of this year and beyond?

The first most honest answer is, we don’t know. We’re not really sure. There are some things that I think we can safely predict or at least project forward to get a better picture of. I’ve shared several frameworks in the past for predicting the future, and I’m going to share two of them with you right now.

The first of these is anytime we’re talking about something that’s happening in the future, we need to define our terms. In this case, what do we mean by content marketing? We need to define success. What does it look like when we’re actually doing this? And by success, it doesn’t mean the content marketing itself will be successful, but what do we mean by putting it into practice in a successful way?

We need to define our timing. And we need to think about and define our confidence level. How confident are we, or as I sometimes say, how much would you bet that this thing you’re predicting is going to come to pass? Another framework I like a lot has to do with scenario planning, where any scenario we’re laying out has to conform to all of the facts that we know at the moment.

We try to identify any predetermines, things that are very, very likely to happen or happen automatically. So for instance, things like there will almost certainly be a presidential election next year. That is a predetermined. It has to identify critical uncertainties. It sometimes identifies wildcards.

And the attempt here is to try to reveal any embedded assumptions. What do we take for granted? And then finally, what, what early warnings should we be on the lookout for? What do we need to see that tells us are we moving towards a specific scenario we project or predict? Or are we moving away from that scenario?

Let’s start with definitions. When I talk about content marketing, I’m talking about the act of planning, producing, and distributing valuable information and insights that will help you reach key business objectives. Pretty straightforward. You’re planning it, you’re producing it, and you’re distributing the insight and information to the people you want to reach, that drive your business objectives.

At that point success, the definition of success is actually pretty easy, is the content, is your content marketing, Accomplishing those key business objectives. Is it improving your performance? Is it reducing your time to market? Is it reducing your cost? Or is it doing some combination of all three of those things?

In terms of timing, this one’s tough. I’m not going to speculate more than maybe… Six to twelve months out at this point. There is enormous innovation going on right now. The landscape is changing rapidly. I will talk more about this in a moment. But anything I say today could look stupid even six months from now.

That’s the amount of innovation we’re seeing. And in terms of confidence level, I’d say anything I’m going to tell you here in this episode, I’m solid on. But I’m definitely not 100%. I’m shooting for the, you know, 70 90 percent range. I’m pretty confident this is going to be true. I’m certainly not 100 percent confident.

And I’m certainly not, you know, it’s not a coin toss. Anything that’s a coin toss, anything that’s 50 50 or lower, I’m just not going to talk about. In other words, I’d be willing to bet somebody That any of these things we’re going to talk about today will come to pass. Sometimes I’d bet a bunch. I might bet 1, 000.

Sometimes I wouldn’t bet much more than about 50 or 100. But certainly I would never bet a dollar, just a dollar, and I would certainly never bet a million dollars on anything I’m going to tell you here. I want to be very fair, that means some of these are going to be relatively conservative forecasts, or relatively conservative predictions.

But again, I can’t emphasize how much change we’re seeing. Anything that’s going to be more speculative than this, or, or, or more speculative than anything I’m going to talk about. I will call out during the episode, or more likely, I’m just going to keep it to myself until I’m more confident in that speculation.

I’m also not going to detail as I go through this, each of those elements I talked about from a scenario planning perspective. In terms of conforming to known facts, or identifying predetermines, or identifying critical uncertainties. I’d like to ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt. That I’ve thought about each of those a bit.

The reason I ask that is just in the interest of time. This can turn into a very long episode very, very quickly. I will admit the only one of those scenario planning techniques where I haven’t, you know, done the work in full detail. is the wild cards. And the reason is because there are far too many wild cards to be 100 percent sure about.

I’m going to give you two examples to illustrate that point. The first is that OpenAI just released GPT 4 Turbo, their new model, and their new GPT Builder tool that allows anyone to build new applications within ChatGPT. And when I say anyone, I mean anyone. Anyone. It does not require coding expertise.

You can simply go in and create a conversation with ChatGPT that it will then save for you so that you can come back and run it again and again and again. Or distribute it to others to use. I don’t want to talk about it too much yet, because it only launched a week ago. Actually, at the time I’m recording this, it record launched less than a week ago.

It’s simply too new for me to have a really good feel for how much better the model is, and for me to have a really good feel. About how easy it is to use GPTs, these tools, to do something really cool. By the way, there’s a real naming challenge here. ChatGPT has named these, these things you can build, these apps, GPTs themselves.

Now, I will have a few thoughts about this within the next handful of weeks, once I’ve had a chance to play with it some more. And it’s definitely a big shift going forward, probably. Definitely a big shift, probably. It’s also very soon to say with confidence, with a huge degree of confidence, exactly how big a shift.

or in which direction it’s going to take us. The other wildcard is Google’s new Gemini model that they’ve been talking about at some length, but is not yet released. It’s not yet out there. Nobody has played with it outside of Google. For all we know, it could absolutely blow up in their faces and be terrible.

It could also put GPT 4 or other models that are out there to shame. It could smoke them. We just don’t know right now. There’s no way to know right now. You can bet I’ll be keeping an eye on both, and along with other tools. And I’d recommend that you do the same, but when we’re talking about wildcards in generative AI, when we’re talking about wildcards in how generative AI might affect your content marketing, the simple reality is there are far too many of them right now for anyone to know for sure.

If there are facts or predetermines or critical uncertainties that I think you should know, I will call them out here in this episode. I don’t expect to do much of that, but I will certainly call out if there’s one or more that are particularly relevant. I also will absolutely give you some early warnings to look out for as we get a little bit later here in the episode.

But what I want to do now is get into some of the things that I think we can take for granted that I think are pretty likely to occur. The first, most important one, and sort of the one that everything else hinges upon. is that content is getting cheaper. It’s always been a myth that content is expensive.

What we have to recognize is that decent content is now effectively free. It’s absolutely true for text. You can come up with decent content, decent text content, for nothing. It’s generally true for images. Those text and images can help you create scripts for videos, webinars, and presentations, and they can often create pretty solid videos for you as well, as well as the cost of creating video effects.

So, content is free. Period. That should just be the mantra that you tell yourself. That’s not predicting the future, that’s predicting the present. Right? I mean, that’s just something we have to take for granted. And that is kind of a predetermined from my perspective because some of the other things that we want to watch out for hinge on that or build off of that.

There’s a ton of consequences that emerge because of this. The first is that there’s going to be a lot more content. than we’ve seen today, which, I don’t know about you, but that’s a staggering reality given the amount of content that your customers already are trying to cope with. They’re drowning in not just streams of content, but rivers and floods and oceans of content.

And there’s going to be a lot more because producing it costs. Nothing. Another thing that we have to take for granted is that the content that comes out from this point forward, in general, is going to be better than what we see today. So it’s not just that there’s going to be more content, it’s that there’s going to be more content that is at average or above average.

As opposed to today, where there’s a lot of content that is below average, which is kind of crappy. Sure, there will also be crappy content, but the worst content produced by an AI today is undoubtedly better than the worst content produced by human beings today. That’s actually something it’s really good at.

Now, you might be sitting here going, Well, sure, but some of that content is going to be wrong or false or contain misinformation or just outright lies. Yep, that’s true. That’s another thing that we have to take for granted. It’s going to be a lot more misinformation. It’s really easy to produce decent content now.

And it’s especially easy if you don’t care whether that content is accurate or helpful. In fact, whether it’s a, you know, malicious competitor.

If you want content that’s more divisive, more misleading, more annoying, good news, we’re now living in the golden age of shitty content. That’s simply a fact. So, you know, if you’re worried about your competitors putting up negative reviews, even inaccurate negative reviews about your products or services, That’s going to be really easy for them to do.

Another consequence of all of this, and another, you know, bold prediction, though I don’t know how bold a prediction it is, but your customers will come to expect content to just be better. The flood of content we’re about to see, or that we’re starting to see, is only going to raise their expectations even further than they already are today.

And that leads to the reality that it’s going to be even more challenging to cut through the clutter. If the average quality of content that’s going to be produced is better, you’re not going to succeed by being average. You’re certainly not going to succeed by being below average. I’ll give you some tips on how to handle this in a minute.

But more of the same. Simply will not work. I do expect we will see more filters to keep out content that customers don’t want to see. I’m a bit less confident on the timing of this one. I am pretty confident that it’s coming. Google’s email filters give some sense of what we’re likely to see. Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella talked about the work that Meta slash Facebook and Microsoft, respectively, Are doing in these specific areas in their recent earnings call.

So we, I am pretty confident we’re going to see more filtering, which again, just is going to make it harder for you to cut through. Even if you have decent quality, they’re going to start ignoring things. If they’re not already, that you’re saying to them, unless it’s something they actively seek out. So, my bold ish predictions are that content is getting cheaper, decent content is now effectively free, there’s going to be a lot more content.

That content is going to be, on average, better than it is today. There’s going to be more info misinformation. Your customers are going to expect better and better content. And it’s going to get more challenging to cut through the clutter, especially as we get AI based filters and the like. So, yay! Okay,

well given that, what can you do? How can you be prepared for this appropriately? And one way is to fight fire with fire. You need to be using AI to improve your content marketing. The nice thing is there are lots of places you can use AI to begin to do this. If we think about a typical content marketing plan, there’s a series of steps that you take.

First, you set your objectives. Then you research your audience. Then you define the value proposition of the piece of content or pieces of content that you create. You build your content marketing calendar. You determine the formats and distribution channels for each piece of content. You then, of course, curate or create Content that meets those value propositions and fits on your content marketing calendar in the formats and channels that matter for your specific audience.

You distribute that on your social, your email, your website. And of course you update and improve that content over time and eventually you reach a point of retirement, removal, archival, or disposition of that content. The cool part. is that you can use artificial intelligence today to help with any of these steps.

You know, when you’re talking about things like setting your objectives, researching your audience, or defining your value proposition. You can use AI for brainstorming and researching and outlining when you talk about things like building out your content calendar. You can do things like brainstorming.

You can do things like planning. When we get to the point of creating and curating content. You can use AI to assess the quality of the content, or assess match for brand voice and tone, or assess readability and intelligibility. You can also deploy predictive analytics to determine the types of content most likely to succeed with your customers.

You can use things like sentiment analysis to understand what it is that really matters to your customers. What do they say and mean about your brand and business on social media and in customer communications that help you better understand their concerns? When we talk about deployment, you can start to do some personalization at scale in a way that has never really been possible.

Artificial intelligence can help you create customized, Personalized versions of your content for individual customer segments or specific personas. I saw this really cool demo from Casey Newton at Platformer, which I will share in the show notes, of course, that showed what he did with one of these new GPT builder agents available in OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

that was essentially a copy editor and editor for his content. And he built it in minutes. It’s so, so, so cool. And then of course from a distribution perspective, we start to get into things like recommendations and how we can use AI to put the right content in front of people, the right customer at the right time.

We’re already seeing products in each of these areas and this isn’t much of a prediction, but I bet you’re going to see a lot more of those in the coming year. Obviously, these are just a handful of examples and high level examples, but I wanted to give you a sense of the fact that tools exist today to help you do all of these things.

The other thing that’s incredibly important is how you get in front of your customer, how you cut through the clutter. And there are a number of things I would encourage you to focus on that you can use AI to help with, but you have to start to do this, you have to ask the questions regardless of whether you’re using AI or not.

The first of these is, it becomes even more important that you listen to your customers. What matters to them? What questions do they still have about your products and your services, and about how you help them in their lives, the value you offer them? How can you answer those in an honest, clear, and distinctive way?

It’s even more important that you have a distinctive voice. What separates you from your competition? More to the point, what makes you, you? What is your brand voice? What are your core values? And I don’t mean aspirational values. I mean the things you actually value. When you look at who represents your company publicly, when you look at who speaks for your brand and your business, or who gets hired, or who gets promoted, What does that say about the company that you are?

If you’re in leadership and you don’t like this answer, you’re in a position to do something about it. If you’re in a line role, start having this conversation with your manager to build the case for why this matters. Because people want to interact with companies that make them feel good about themselves and about the company they’re working with.

You’ve then got to incorporate those values in your messaging, all of it. Who are you? Are you inquisitive? Are you funny? Are you authoritative? Are you passionate? Are you a true advocate for your customers concerns? Start thinking. Thinking about what you can do to unleash your team’s voices and remain true to your brand.

Hire people who share your company’s values and make sure you’re clear on what your company’s values actually are. Then think about what are the kinds of questions that you can answer that AI can’t. What explorations can you lead? What, what purposes can you support and I don’t just mean in an abstract way of you know We get behind these things or we donate money to charity.

I mean in terms of making Your community better. What can you do to inject more humanity into your content? The funny thing to me is we’ve come full circle on this topic. We had a blog post about when people are your brand way, way back in the early days of content marketing, 2006, that talked about how to balance your company’s individual personalities with that of your brand.

I am confident. The companies that find this balance will outperform those that stick to what they’ve always done because their customers will seek them out, their customers will care. And while we’re speaking about caring, connect outside the digital space with your customers. I know, wait, what? That’s a heresy on this show, right?

Okay, not really, but how better to know what your customers want than to engage with them in real life? Build a genuine community where you’re able to connect with people around your shared values. Because that’s not something you’re going to replace with artificial intelligence. One of the big counters to artificial intelligence is to express real humanity in everything that you do.

Nobody’s going to automate that away. The last thing that you need to do, and I’ve said this many times on this show, but you have to keep learning. Pay attention to upgrades in GPT 4, such as, excuse me, in ChatGPT, such as GPT 4 Turbo. Keep an eye out for Google’s Gemini when it launches. Try Microsoft’s co pilots as they become available in things like Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Outlook.

Try Bing Chat. Take a look and see what happens with Elon Musk’s new Grok AI that just launched over on Twitter or X or whatever we’re calling it now. I’m going to be confi I’m going to be clear. I don’t have a ton of confidence that this will go well. I’m reminded very much of Microsoft’s Tay and Facebook’s Blender Bot experiments, which Twitter users managed to turn into racist, sexist, anti Semitic homophobes in less than 48 hours.

I’m not… Super clear on why Elon thinks this time will be different, but I could be wrong. That’s why it’s a good idea to watch and see what happens. If I’m wrong about it, you can always start using it when it actually works. The thing to remember is this is all changing fast. You don’t need to be an expert in all of these.

But you should try a few and see which help you or your team do your jobs more effectively and efficiently. And the last thing I would say is pay attention to your customers and how they adopt these tools. That will be the early warnings in terms of when we’re moving towards these predictions or if we’re moving away from them.

If customers aren’t adopting them that quickly, though I’ve seen no evidence that that’s going to be true, that’ll be a sign that you can take your foot off the gas a little. If you see them adopting them very quickly, that’s a sign you need to put your foot on the floor and get in front of this as fast as you can.

What you can’t do is sit on the sidelines and hope it’s going to just work out in the long run. I feel a little like we’ve seen this movie before. We saw it with Social, which became a really big deal. We saw it with mobile, which became a really big deal. We saw it with the internet, which became a really big deal.

I haven’t seen any evidence that AI is going to be any different than any of those. And that’s a prediction I really can stand behind. So again, content is effectively free. There’s going to be a lot more of it. It’s going to be better in general than what we see today. There’s going to be a lot more misinformation, and your customers expect great content, and if they can’t find it, they’re going to start using filters to keep out content they don’t want to see.

Your job is to go ahead and start using these tools to start putting them to work for your business. To listen to your customers and what matters to them, and ultimately, to be more human, authentically, with what you do. And if you manage to do those things, there’s one prediction I’ll stand behind, which is you’re definitely going to succeed.

Show Wrap-Up 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 today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes, by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 402.

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Show Outro

Finally, and I know I say this every week, but we’re 402 episodes into this show, and I am just so thrilled that you keep tuning in, and that you keep listening.

It means the world to me. You are the reason we do this. You’re the reason we make this happen every single week. So please, keep the tweets coming, keep your messages coming on LinkedIn, keep your emails coming. I love getting the chance to talk with you. To hear what’s going on in your world and to learn how to do a better job building the types of content and insights and information that works for you and works for your business.

So with all of that said, I hope you have a fantastic 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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