Marketing Bandwagons: With “AI,” What’s Old Is New Again

When we talk to clients about generative AI, ChatGPT, and all the latest fads, we need to be the grown-ups. Right now, we suck at it.

Old Lessons, Ignored

For marketing, generative “AI” is the push marketing of 2023.

Remember push marketing? In 1997, we all thought we were gonna shove headlines and marketing content directly to users’ desktops and that those users would thank us.

It had some appeal. It even had some shit we used to make marketing better about, oh, ten years later.

“Early adopters” had fun but screwed their clients, dragging them and their budgets towards completely worthless technologies and tools.

Why? Because everyone was afraid of being left behind. Marketers chased a Wired Magazine headline right down the shitter of horrible advice.

With generative AI, we are doing it again. And we all know it.

Someone showed us GPT. A few more people decided it was AI and declared it’s the future.

It is neither. At least not in its current state. What we’re seeing now is a weak demonstration, good for a few specific applications:

  • Generating little snippets of text, as long as you review them
  • Writing content briefs, as long as you review them
  • Summarizing pages, as long as edit them (see a theme here?)

I’ve had good results:

  • Classifying keywords, when the various APIs don’t crash
  • Generating custom models (see previous)
  • Writing detailed content, when I want to show my clients how awful the results are
  • Generating regular expressions (because I suck at regex)

Am I saying we should ignore it? Absolutely not. Generative AI is really freaking cool.

Nor am I suggesting we should keep clients from using it. It’s like keeping your kids off the internet. They’ll just go use it somewhere else.

Here’s what I do suggest:

Don’t Just Demonstrate GPT

Don’t show these tools to clients and tell them, “We can generate content. Just make sure you have the right processes in place.”

You may as well show me font of infinite chocolate and then tell me not to eat too much. What the hell does “too much” mean?! Only one way to find out…

Have A Grown-Up Discussion

Show something like ChatGPT to clients and say, “This is amazing. It’s going to change things forever.”

Then say, “This can’t generate content. It is not actually AI. It’s a precocious parrot that’s good at proofreading.”

Followed by, “We are going to use this for these very specific things: Meta descriptions, LD-JSON generation, maybe proofreading.”

Do Better

We all want our clients to think we’re the smartest and goodest of marketers.

Part of that means not making them chase us down a whirlpool of stupidity. Have some patience. Learn the tools. Wait for them to mature. Then use them to help your clients do better marketing.

Pretty please.

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