Lindsay Tjepkema is CEO and co-founder of castthe world’s first Amplified Marketing Platform.
As someone who appreciates the importance of human connection in branding and has built a business based on that premise, I am simultaneously amazed and frustrated by the potential of generative AI. Like many who have recently used tools like ChatGPT for the first time, I’ve experienced the thrill of synthesizing content, answering questions, compiling resources, and even writing songs and poems. Despite some notable generative AI missteps, the technology is already being used to create millions of lines worth of blog posts, sales emails, editorials, and countless other assets.
And why wouldn’t it? Marketing teams in many industries have been hit hard by layoffs and budget cuts. Even those whose positions (and budgets) have remained relatively intact are probably keeping a suspicious eye on the future and are quietly polishing up their LinkedIn profiles.
Still, I believe those who resist the temptation to go all in with generative AI to mass-produce more content — and instead champion their brands’ authentic voices — will be the winners when it comes to engage the public in ways that really matter, both now and in the long run.
Under pressure to do more with less
Marketing teams are under pressure to create more everything– with fewer resources. B2B content marketers are already spending money 82% of their time content creation, leaving just a few hours for strategy and countless other responsibilities. It’s no surprise that marketers get excited when the lure of a free digital wand seems to fall into their laps.
But marketers are smart to resist the temptation. Although generative AI can help them dig out of a hole in the short term and absolutely absolutely do provide some specific capabilities to help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, the technology is not a magical, sustainable tool for telling a brand’s story and building real relationships with customers.
Generative AI has the power to quickly create large volumes of content, which sounds great for those eager to produce much-needed content and communication. That power also means it will add even more noise to an already busy marketplace. It will become increasingly difficult for brands to cut through the increasing clutter to reach their target audience in the first place, let alone in a meaningful or personal way. As we use tools like ChatGPT to do more and more, we risk losing sight of the ultimate goal: building trust and authentic human-to-human relationships.
Building human relationships is the ultimate goal of any brand, no matter what it sells. Companies that want to stand out and cut through the noise must commit to creating meaningful connections with their audience. That means using technology to inspire more relevant, rich and authentic content, don’t use it as a quick fix.
AI can never match the lived experience of a human expert or the passion shared by a real human voice. It can only synthesize information based on what already exists. In addition to summarizing and reformulating, close examination tends to reveal dangerous cracks in the surface. The content is too repetitive, too vanilla and just a little too robotic. It’s not a recipe for messages that resonate.
Build and maintain consumer confidence
Many consumers are generally skeptical of AI-generated content, and understandably so. If consumers discover that content is machine-generated, they may feel misled. However, there are ways that AI tools like ChatGPT can be used responsibly and effectively. Marketers who stay current with these tools and use them to support their content strategy can accelerate their processes.
To maintain and even build trust, start thinking now about how you will reveal to your audience the level of AI involvement in the creation of each piece of content. Is that highly technical product documentation created entirely with AI to serve the customer quickly and accurately? Say it. Is a blog post started as a prompt in ChatGPT to reveal the content most likely to resonate with the audience and then heavily edited by a human for accuracy and alignment with the brand? Say it. Was the podcast host inspired by ideas drawn from AI recommendations? Again, say it. The brands that get ahead of this healthy skepticism with transparency early on are more likely to be rewarded with trust and loyalty going forward.
ChatGPT can lead us to new resources, topics for discussion, questions worth asking and more. As a collaborative or collaborative partner, generative AI is a great tool. The three, five, or 50 answers generated from a particular prompt can be the catalyst for this your next great idea – an idea that is unique to you and your brand and that builds the public’s trust in you.
The most human brands win
I’ve always said that the most humane brands win, and I believe this will continue to be the case. You can imagine the tools and browser extensions that will become available to help already wary consumers discover AI content in the future. Will they keep reading? Will they ignore it? Is it worth the risk for marketers?
I would argue it isn’t. Communication is at the heart of what we do, and unique and enlightening conversations take place every day about and within the industries we serve.
The focus of marketers’ final, published efforts should always be on building human connections. Podcasts and videos, for example, provide unique opportunities for the audience to feel like they’re part of the conversation, and this is something that machines can’t match or produce without the real thoughts and voices of humans.
Even if you don’t publish those peer-to-peer or host-to-expert conversations today, there are few hurdles to get started. Amplifying those conversations across the web, email, social and other channels resonates in a way that superficial, synthetic content is unlikely to ever achieve.