Marketing in the Age of AI and ChatGPT

Although it started with students at first, when social media arrived on the professional scene it took off quickly.  Clients became curious then distracted before getting overwhelmed with the growing number of platform options from Facebook to Twitter/X, Insta, Snap, Pinterest, TikTok and then there were blogs too.  I was getting questions about what to do, where to be and how to do it without wasting a lot of time and energy. Even if we have not mastered the latest online tools and communities many of us have made peace with social media by picking one or two that work for us and focusing our attention.  For me and my business LinkedIn matters most.

The Metaverse started to get a lot of attention during the pandemic as the whole world migrated online but it seems to be cooling off a bit now that Artificial Intelligence or AI has moved to the forefront.  Media stories abound about ChatGPT being able to replace doctors, lawyers, MBAs, you name it.  Robots took away factory jobs years ago and now this.  Many people have asked me lately about whether I am worried that AI is going to replace marketers too.

Newspapers, radio, and television all had to adjust as technology has evolved with computers, cell phones, streaming, etc.  The marketing fundamentals will continue to be relevant – understanding what motivates your target audience to buy your products or services never goes out of style.  We will continue to help clients find the right words and pictures to tell their stories that educate, inform and/or entertain using AI but I’d argue the real killer application today is Authentic Interactions not Artificial Intelligence!  While your competition generates robotic copy that sounds generic you can stand out and break through the sea of sameness with personalized thoughtful content serving their specific needs. So don’t get distracted by the latest shiny object, to win today authenticity is what people remember.  Building connections and relationships with your audience is more important now than ever!     

I have found a nice framework for evaluating whether or not ChatGPT (or any AI) is appropriate for your task is to consider:

  • Is the task high or low stakes?
  • Does the task require high accuracy or high fluency? If your task is low stakes, high fluency (i.e. writing a birthday poem), conversational AI is likely a good fit for the task. If your task requires high stakes and high accuracy (i.e. making a business investment), conversational AI is most likely a bad fit for the task.

There are thousands of tasks that fall somewhere in between these two extremes so you need situational awareness and subject matter expertise to get the most out of this (or any) technology.

In my experience, the human touch always wins.  We’ve seen the push and pull between campaign automation and human-driven approaches, and human wins every time. When influencer marketing first began, every aspect of a campaign was done manually. This was by necessity since we were essentially building the playbook and executing this new marketing tactic simultaneously. Those early days required a strong foundation of brand marketing experience, smart instincts and a whole lot of grit.  Successful influencer marketing requires building relationships with influencers, crafting personalized campaigns and creating authentic content that resonates with the influencers’ audiences. These tasks require a tailored approach for every client, as well as the ability to understand the nuances of influencer marketing, specifically the unique nature of working with content creators.

Any smart marketer will tell you that technology can help streamline aspects of a campaign, but you won’t find an experienced strategist who will recommend relying solely on automation for influencer marketing.  The best influencer marketing approach is a hybrid one: human-driven campaigns enhanced by technology.  With ChatGPT generating text with just the click of a few buttons, I can see why many are questioning whether this new language model will replace content creators. If AI is so good at natural language processing and personalization, it could seem like a worrisome proposition but don’t sound the alarms yet.  Effective influencer marketing relies on the ability to create genuine and engaging content that resonates with the creator’s audience, and this requires creativity, empathy and a personal touch that is difficult for AI to replicate.  We need to keep tabs on AI developments, but I am confident that authenticity will continue to reign supreme. Influencer marketing requires experienced professionals with real—not artificial—intelligence to use tools in a smart way to engage creators who ultimately connect with and influence their followers on a personal level. Tools can enhance but cannot replace that human touch.  Technology does not have to be isolating it can be used to build our real world communities and relationships too!  

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder & CEO of global branding and digital marketing firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA.  Her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times Company, Colgate, venture-backed startups as well as non profit organizations.  She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School.  Paige serves on several Boards, is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.