Where do B2B Marketers go for up to date information, great networking and insights on what’s working in B2B Marketing? B2BMX is definitely on the list of events where business marketing professionals find what they need to succeed in the dynamic and fast changing world of B2B marketing.
To give TopRank’s B2B Marketing Blog community a preview of the expertise to be found at the B2B Marketing Exchange marketing conference, today’s post features an interview with my longtime friend and B2B Marketing/Sales champion, Pam Didner.
Pam worked at Intel for over 14 years before elevating her career to become an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, adjunct professor, author of multiple B2B marketing books and one of the most influential people on the topic of B2B marketing. She’s also VP of Marketing at Relentless Pursuit.
At B2BMX, Pam is giving a keynote presentation about the impact of Artificial Intelligence on efficiency and creativity for B2B marketing. The official presentation title is: Marketing + “The Machine”: Sizing Up AI’s Emerging Impact On Efficiency Vs. Risks To Creativity.
With B2BMX just around the corner (February 27 – March 1st) and very few tickets remaining, Pam took time out from a family trip to Asia to chat with me about AI implications for B2B – a very hot topic for marketers right now.
Before all the buzz about ChatGPT, AI has played a role in B2B marketing for some time. What are some of the most impactful applications for B2B marketing you’ve seen from generative AI?
Pam: The most popular applications that I’ve seen tend to be the AI assisted writing platforms such as ChatGPT and other writing platforms. You can actually open the platform and you can brief artificial intelligence to write based on how you brief them. A lot of content marketers and even companies are using that, and a majority of them are using it pretty correctly to write a piece content.
But a lot of people are treating that as a first draft. And that’s what the machine is thinking based on gathering information from multiple different sources. That’s not your point of view, and doesn’t reflect your expertise. The AI also doesn’t know your products. So use that as a first draft, as a starting point. Then you add additional colors to it. Add your point of view and your style, your branding guidelines. Then you can create content that makes a lot of sense. So the ones I have seen as the most popular tend to be writing assistant platforms.
There are many applications for AI in marketing but few have had as much attention recently as with content creation. Do you think generative AI has the ability to create something entirely “new” and original?
Pam: So, let’s talk about that for a couple of minutes. Currently the artificial intelligence that we are using is called weak AI. Basically, they can do a specific task competently, and a lot of time, they are trained. And the way that they’ve been trained is you feed the data to them but where does the data come from? Is it either from the internet or from your company’s sources? It is usually a massive amount of data
But you have to think about it. Who actually creates that type of data I’m talking about? It’s coming from us, the humans. Then how does the AI learn? It’s based on the algorithms that we created. So with that being said, the way that the content, what we call original content, is created by artificial intelligence is actually from human input.
Is that helpful? So what is original, you know, has led to debate because there is input information that we feed into the machine, right? Because of that information we feed into them, they created something and somebody can call that original, but other people can say that’s just human based content that’s created by the algorithm.
It’s debatable. It also depends on the legal definition as well. From my perspective, it’s very hard to determine the originality of it. Like, for example, if I created a piece of art, I can call that original because I can put down Pam dinner created it. But when AI creates a piece of art, they gather information from multiple different sources and that touches on the copyright issue.
Because some of the art or some of the content that’s created is probably pretty prominent so that you can identify the sources where they gather or pull that information from. So, I don’t know. I don’t have answers for that. I think eventually there’s going to be a huge debate and it’s going involve policymaking and the law to determine what’s the definition of original content and AI.
Of course AI isn’t magic or fully automatic. Can you explain the role of human input with generative AI-assisted creative outputs like content, visuals and video?
Pam: They cannot read your mind or simply know your interest in something. You have to brief AI. Like, if I want to have a concept created I have to brief a creative agency. The same thing applies if you want AI or the algorithm to do something. You have to brief the artificial intelligence.
There’s no difference in briefing real humans or briefing the artificial intelligence, because the agency cannot read your mind and the neither can the artificial intelligence. So you have to brief them. You have to enter the text or you have to explain to them what you are looking for, right? And then they can create something for you. Then you can determine, Hmm, does that make sense? Does that meet my expectations?
A lot of people are getting caught up in the idea that AI is this going to take jobs. AI is really a tool, right? It’s a tool like email, a browser, or a spreadsheet.
Pam: If somebody is actually creating a marketing robot, kind of like either Pam or Lee, that eventually can wear multiple hats then I 100% agree. But nobody’s creating that robot yet, as far as I can tell. Maybe someone is doing that.
Platforms or AI-based tools tend to perform one task, and that task is pretty narrow. So is it taking over anybody’s job as of yet? Probably not. But in the future, will that happen? Possibly? At this point, from my perspective, AI is a tool that we can take advantage of.
I think it was Amit Shah that said, “AI will not replace humans. But a human with AI will replace you.”
Pam: Yeah. I can see that. I think there’s insight to it, but don’t you think that’s no different than what we are doing right now? So there are experts in the use of AI. But it’s just like you, Lee, you are the expert on influencer marketing, you are the expert, actually on SEO. So are you taking over somebody’s job who are not the experts? To me, there’s no difference. If you want to know something, you have to be the expert.
There’s an expression I’ve used increasingly: A tool is only as useful as the expertise of the person using it.
It’s no longer human versus machine. It’s basically you just have to continuously learn and make sure that whatever field that you are going after, you continue to stay on top of it.
Do you think the use of AI tools pose any ethical or legal risks associated with its use in creative or marketing projects? (BTW, this question is courtesy of ChatGPT)
Pam: I think it does. I do. I can talk from two different perspective, right? So, when ChatGPT came out, all the universities and high schools, like all the teachers are freaking out because there’s no way to detect plagiarism. It’s so you can copy someone’s work or the artificial intelligence can create something and maybe add additional color to it, but it’s not created by the students themselves. So that’s one situation which is kind of like, how do you make sure that the students continue to learn? It’s not like AI learning on their behalf, if you will.
And then the other part of it is what about the content? Maybe a visual was created with artificial intelligence, but it’s really pooled from different sources from the internet. If you don’t know where the sources are and you didn’t pay a licensing fee, maybe you get sued because of using that art. It does create risks, especially business risks for B2B companies.
So my recommendation for all my clients, especially on the visuals, is still to buy stock photos. If you want to play with AI generated type of art or visuals, you need to make sure that you have disclaimers and also have a conversation with your legal team and get their legal advice before you actually use it openly and publicly.
How can B2B marketers connect the dots between AI and what they do as marketers on a day to day basis?
Pam: You know, that depends on your job function. From my perspective, I’m going to use content creation as one example. If you are a content marketer, obviously you can use an AI generated writing tool to help you to create content. If you are in email marketing and you are using certain kinds of marketing automation tools, you probably should look into the tools that you use and see if they actually have AI generated features that have been associated with that specific platform.
Talk to your vendors and understand some of the platforms you are using. Try to understand the features and the functionality as much as you can. Then find a way to leverage that. I understand artificial intelligence can be overwhelming, and everybody uses AI very differently.
My recommendation for anybody who is actually not familiar with artificial intelligence is to look at what you do on day-to-day basis, your roles and your responsibility, and think about how AI can apply. Especially anything that’s repetitive, right? Anything that’s repetitive, AI can take over that kind of job scope. Anything that involves content creation, I come back to that again, AI can do some of that work for you. But you treat it as a first draft.
What advice do you have for B2B marketers that want to take advantage of AI possibilities but don’t know where to start?
Pam: My take on the easiest way is for everybody that does digital marketing. That means everybody uses different kind of tools, right? If you are very familiar with your tools, fantastic. But if you are not, you only use limited functions and the features of your tools, so talk to your vendors.
I think the best way to educate yourself on artificial intelligence for digital marketing is to leverage your agencies and vendors. They know a lot more than us because they actually focus on specific disciplines and also specific fields. So leverage them. Have them talk to you like for example, Lee, I’m pretty sure LinkedIn is your client and you work with them very closely on a lot of content creation and also on SEO stuff. LinkedIn comes to you and they ask your opinion, right?
So if you don’t actually have that kind of knowledge about AI, try to leverage your agencies and also your vendors as much as you can try to learn from them. They know a lot.
Let’s ask “PamGPT” a question: How do you think modern AI will impact the future of marketing disciplines like content creation, advertising, visual content or SEO?
Pam: I see it like when we made the transition from traditional marketing like a print ads to digital marketing, which is everything online. That took a while. I’m not saying print is dead, but the majority of marketing is really digital marketing. For AI, it’s very similar to that transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing.
For AI, you have to think that the next phase of digital marketing is really about automation, right? Try to automate as many processes and as many steps as possible. One of the functionalities that AI can do very, very well is actually identify mundane tasks, and then people can write code to do those kinds of specific tasks.
So in theory, if you look at any kind of marketing flow and if you want to automate the marketing flow, from my perspective, artificial intelligence should be able to play in every single step in every single stage in that process.
So if you think that way, artificial intelligence is going to impact your job in every single aspect, but again, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to take your job. You just need to make sure you stay on top of it.
Like you said Lee, you need to understand the technology. I remember that when the first time I met you, you are really the SEO expert. But SEO has changed so much! But you stay on top of it in the past 10 years all the time, right? And that applies to artificial intelligence. Understand the technology’s impact on the jobs you do, and how can you optimize it, how can you make it better? And that will also determine how marketers are going use artificial intelligence in the future.
What brings you the most joy when it comes to B2B marketing?
Pam: That’s a great question. I think I want to answer that in two different ways. One is probably at the personal level. I love to help B2B marketers succeed. I like to make them like a rockstar, to make them look great in front of their management and also, their peers. That is on thing that brings joy to me, to make my clients or make people succeed.
And the other one, is as a B2B marketer. If I’m actually working in a company as a B2B marketer, what will make me very happy is to show the impact of marketing and what I do. And a lot of time making that impact happen means working directly with the sales team. When I am able to articulate the impact for my clients, that makes me very, very happy.
Thanks Pam, we are very happy you shared your insights with us!
If you’re reading this before February 28th, you can also see Pam live at the B2B Marketing Exchange, Monday, February 27, 2023 4:50 PM to 5:30 in the Estrella Ballroom where she’ll be presenting: Marketing + “The Machine”: Sizing Up AI’s Emerging Impact On Efficiency Vs. Risks To Creativity.