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How Good is AI for Marketing?

As magic-like efficiency enablers such as ChatGPT become more prevalent, it's important to take a practical look at their use in the spheres of corporate communications and marketing. Beyond efficiencies, does it improve the relationships between the brand and the customer? What is the risk-benefit ratio? Considering its benefits, what are the main drivers to achieve marketing goals and good business results?

Risk-Benefit Analysis

While the plethora of AI tools offer clear benefits, it's crucial to also take their drawbacks and inefficiencies into account. One recurring concern is, of course, that AI can undermine the human element in marketing and corporate communications. Insiders of branding, marketing and corporate communications often emphasize the importance of deeply, personal human connections and relationship building in business. AI still cannot replicate the depth and nuance of human interaction – or at least, not yet. By relying too heavily on AI tools too quickly, companies, both small and big, risk losing touch with their customers and failing to establish a genuine connection. It may even depersonalize customer interactions. While AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants certainly can help drive efficiencies and help automate tasks for instance, they lack the empathy, creativity, cognitive capacity and the emotional intelligence that comes with human interaction.

“The key to artificial intelligence
has always been the representation.”
Jeff Hawkins

In addition to these potential risks, the use of AI in corporate communications and marketing raises concerns about data privacy and security. Today’s AI is essentially a ‘brute force scale approach’ (source), relying on vast amounts of data to learn and improve, which may include sensitive customer information. Companies must ensure that they are transparent about their data collection, use policies and take appropriate measures to protect customer privacy. All in all, the potential loss of the human element in marketing, ethical concerns, and economic risks must be carefully weighed against real and perceived benefits.

The Magic Is in The Balance

Artificial intelligence is currently more about artificiality, not yet about real intelligence. There is too much quantitative and too little quality thinking. Neuro networks are not yet part of AI. Authenticity and integrity inside out are key in an environment where consumer trust levels are so low. A change of value and belief systems and tapping into the transformational power of a brand could do wonders for such industries as finance, technology and media. For example, in the finance sector, thinking in quantities tends to dominate. Environments such as banking, asset management, private equity, hedge funds, etc. are driven by numbers, generally excluding qualitative analysis, subjective interpretation and behavioural economics. Consequently, the ability to create desire by connecting on a deeper, emotional level is often non-existent. In a time where Artificial Intelligence is on the fast track and algorithms have the potential to replace core-banking propositions, it would be wise for financial institutions to rethink their positioning, underplaying value systems and consequentially their ways of communicating with clients.

“A year spent in artificial intelligence.
is enough to make one believe in God.”
Alan Perlis

AI has the potential to replace not only workers or junior level employees but also entire business models, companies, professions and even industries. However, neither hope nor fear are strategies. As the famous saying goes: ‘AI will not replace you. The person using AI will.’ The effectiveness of any technological tool depends a lot on who uses it. Those who know how to use it right, asking the right questions, know where, when and how much of it to apply will reap the most benefits from it. In other words, it is not here to replace brand building and marketing processes but rather, to complement it. In this sense it is a huge enabler. AI augments human intelligence and productivity, not dethroning it. According to Anu Madgavkar, partner at McKinsey Global Institute, majority of work done by content creators is not automatable (source).

A Tool Within Tools

What does the near future hold for tools like ChatGPT and their use in marketing? AI finds its way into the marketer’s toolbox at the speed of light: integrations into tools like Canva, Deepl, Google, Bing and the full Microsoft Office Suite drive verbal and visual content creation. Microsoft, Shutterstock, Buzzfeed and many more are among a growing number of companies that are already using the open AI’s (ChatGPT) framework technology. Big Tech such as Amazon for its Alexa, Apple for its Siri, Google’s search and so on are on their heels to follow suit.

“AI will not replace you.
A person using AI will.”
Santiago Valdarrama


So when ‘everyone goes AI’, how will businesses assure distinctiveness? In a future not too far from now, the risk is one of sacrificing authenticity for a sea of blandness in exchange for efficiency and (lower) cost when creating content. In an environment where everyone is using the same tools for the same purposes, the main area of differentiation is in focusing on abilities unique to human abilities. In other words, it’s a great time and opportunity for firms and brands to focus on improving skills and competencies that AI lacks.

Here are key areas where humans still outperform AI and hence businesses can consider for amplification regarding distinctiveness:

  • Imagination, consciousness, and intuition
  • Intelligence, feelings/emotions
  • Emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Grasping context and objective setting
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Building relationships

What lays beyond AI?

The answer is probably Augmented Intelligence. As Sir Nigel Richard Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence from University of Southampton, wrote: “We are moving towards a new kind of augmented intelligence, defined by harnessing decision support systems and ambient computing that can support humans to solve problems individually and collectively that were previously beyond our capacity.”

Before we get there however, we will need to work even harder to build powerful brands and create true distinction, relevancy and attractive communication that manage to cut through the clutter. AI tools are great – but they remain tools, rather than substitutes for some time to come yet.

If you look to stand out from the sea sameness through a distinctive voice, get your story out there and connect you with your audiences, then please get in touch with us.

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