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Feb 27, 2023 BY Mindy Avitia Marketing

Is AI the Future of Marketing? A Mighty Roundtable Discussion

AI writing tools have been around for a while. Tools like Jasper, Grammarly, etc., help content writers write. But ChatGPT, a new tool created by startup OpenAI, has changed the game. Unlike other tools, ChatGPT has both the capacity to create content and act as a new way to search for and research information.

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To say ChatGPT has reached the mainstream is an understatement. Its powerful, quick-to-respond features have both excited and worried not only marketers but professionals across industries. From education to construction, ChatGPT has made itself known.

Mighty Citizen is here to answer some of those questions with–well, honestly–more questions. Anyone who decidedly knows the future of such tools is just looking through a fuzzy-at-best crystal ball of artificial unknowns.

Is AI writing the future of marketing? Do marketers, creatives, and analysts need to prepare themselves to work alongside this new technology? Or do we ban it from our organizations in order to protect human-centered creativity? What are the ethical implications of such tools? And can we, as mission-driven marketers, use (or not use) this tool for good?

Some argue that AI copywriting sanitizes content and that it can’t create or come close to replicating good storytelling, even with highly detailed inputs. One marketer asked it to describe the feeling of meeting your child for the first time. Its response was a sterile, uninteresting account, lacking the ability to evoke or convey complex emotions.

I sat down with mighty citizens across departments to understand the implications of these tools and how (and if) mission-driven marketers should work alongside them. And because every story has two sides, I asked ChatGPT itself the same questions.

In this article, you’ll hear from Gardiner Rhoderick, VP of Creative and Marketing; Andrew Buck, Associate Creative Director; Stephen Tidmore, Executive VP of Technology; Kristine Fernandez, Associate Director of Development; Joi Bass, Senior Marketing Strategist; Mike Steckel, Senior Director of UX & Research.

What implications do AI writing tools like ChatGPT have on the future of our industry?

Andrew Buck: It could have some major implications on SEO and the future of SEO. When I read content created by ChatGPT, it reads a lot like SEO-style writing. So will this tool, or tools like it, eventually replace manual keyword research and SEO writing? I don’t know. But I can see it has the potential to do so.

Kristine Fernandez: Two primary things concern me when it comes to the implications of AI tools for developers, and this goes for other AI tools like Github Copilot. The first is that they pull from both public and private codebases without consent. Developers are not getting credited for the code, whether they want the credit or not. So there are ethical or security implications if the code has a license on its usage that isn’t being verified or if the developer had used credentials in code that was scanned by these tools. The second is that as we progress and use these tools more often, developers may not understand the basic fundamentals of the code these AI tools are producing, which could potentially lead to malicious code being introduced or even just bad or faulty code being implemented without the developer realizing it. I do think that they can be used as a mechanism for learning or for repetitive coding tasks, but any output should be vetted and implemented mindfully.

Joi Bass: When we use tools like this for, say, strategies or copywriting, it’s easy to overlook things we may be missing. So, for example, if you want to use ChatGPT to summarize the plot of Hamlet, sure, it will do that well. But if you want to get opinions about how certain stories or moments made one feel or how they’ve interpreted it—tools like this won’t do that.

Mike Steckel: Tools like this may have the potential to replace commodity writing jobs—the press releases, the boilerplates—those bland things that need to be written but aren’t that fun to write. But the real power, I think, with these tools are the inputs, not the outputs. Many of us are focused on the outputs because the technology is incredible, but the inputs will differentiate us. When we know our unique identity as an organization and as a brand, then we can control the outputs to be as unique as our brand is.

Gardiner Rhoderick: We must be conscious about keeping authenticity alive within our content, marketing, creativity—everything. Tools like ChatGPT may dilute that authenticity. Right now, it’s the wild wild west, but if the wild wild west had access to the world’s data. It’s a big nebulous machine that needs to be monitored, and we shouldn’t just go forth without careful consideration and thoughtfulness, especially when it comes to mission-driven organizations.

ChatGPT: Overall, AI writing tools have the potential to make marketing more efficient, effective, and personalized. However, marketers must be mindful of the potential ethical concerns and use these tools responsibly to ensure that they are delivering value to consumers.

How do you feel about the future of AI and working alongside it?

Joi Bass: We have to be very careful how we work alongside this tech. I don’t think we need to be completely contrarian. There is room for it to help us with ideation. But it can also sanitize our history, which is extremely dangerous. For example, there’s an AI tool that allows people to talk to historical figures. And obviously, there are a lot of problematic figures in the world’s history. You can’t have AI technology responding with slurs or harmful content. But the solution to sanitize history, like saying Robert E. Lee didn’t support slavery, is just factually wrong and can have severe implications for our future.

Gardiner Rhoderick: There’s a perceived notion that it’s faster, which means it’s better. And leaders often want more efficiency, so leadership and organizations may just say, “cool, this is good enough.” I worry that that’s a dangerous slope. We may need to become directors in a way—directing what we want to keep and what we want to throw away. When we know our brands well, we can decide better how to work alongside tools like this without sacrificing the quality of work.

Andrew Buck: If I had to pick one word, I would say optimistic. I don’t want to be the person at the 1939 World’s Fair worried about the implications of television. All that to say, I don’t want to be running around with my hair on fire, saying it’ll never work. I want to think that tools like this will be part of our continual evolution as a species and make things better for everybody.

Mike Steckel: It’s coming. It’s the future. So we might as well make friends with it, right? I mean, there’s just no way around it. We need to learn how to work as partners.

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I do not have personal feelings or emotions as humans do. However, I can provide some insights about the future of AI and how it may impact our relationship with it. I believe that the future of AI and working alongside it is likely to be complex, with both opportunities and challenges. It is up to us as a society to ensure that we use this technology to enhance our lives and make the world a better place.

What would you recommend clients do to engage–or not engage–with this technology today?

Stephen Tidmore: From a client perspective—through the lens of a developer, if you have technical staff on your team, I would say clients ought to investigate the tools but don’t rely on them to write complicated code without understanding what it’s doing. It is important to understand what code does, which takes more work and time than typing some queries into a chat tool.

Joi: A few of us on staff recently tested it out to help with naming a client’s newsletter. And I can tell you that the AI-generated names didn’t even make it to the second round of consideration. None of them. It’s a lesson in the power of human creativity—if we just use these tools to generate ideas and drafts, we are missing out on much of our own creativity. Humans and the way we create just cannot be replicated.

But if a client wants to, for example, understand the definition of what a click-through rate is, ChatGPT could be a helpful, quick resource for that.

Mike: As I mentioned, if our inputs aren’t unique, the output won’t be either. If your organization’s brand is generic and boring, then generic and boring inputs will yield equal outputs. So if your outputs aren’t interesting, then it may be time to rethink your unique value and how you can use AI tools like ChatGPT to help ideate on that unique value instead of it being a boring, bland copy machine. ChatGPT should push your organization to refocus on creating unique and relevant content in your brand voice. Those who can most succinctly express the unique and relevant parts of their value proposition will always be MarCom leaders. ChatGPT doesn’t change that.

ChatGPT: When it comes to engaging with chatbots, here are a few recommendations for clients of a marketing agency: determine the purpose of the chatbot, set clear expectations, train the chatbot, and monitor the chatbot.

In terms of not engaging with ChatGPT or any chatbot, it’s essential to recognize that chatbots are not a replacement for human interaction. Clients should consider the type of customer experience they want to provide and determine whether a chatbot is the right solution. If the client values personalized human interactions, a chatbot may not be the best fit for their business.

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With the emergence of complex AI writing tools like ChatGPT, it’s essential to stay up to date on the ever-changing marketing trends of the future. For this and other marketing, branding, and communications tools and resources, subscribe to Mighty Citizen’s Insights.

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