Where Are Marketing & AI Headed?

June

28

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Where are marketing and AI headed? That's the question my guest and I will tackle today. We're going to discuss how people are using AI in their marketing efforts, where AI struggles with marketing, and what the future might look like.

Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Devin Rose for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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Where Are Marketing & AI Headed?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Where are marketing and AI headed? That's the question my guest and I will tackle today. We're going to discuss how people are using AI in their marketing efforts, where AI struggles with marketing, and what the future might look like. Hi, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks to accelerate growth, and marketing shouldn't be difficult. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. Super excited to have Devin Rose with eBridge Marketing Solutions with me today. Devin, welcome and thanks for being here.

Devin Rose
Hi, Tim. Yeah, thanks so much for having me on the show. I really appreciate it. And I'm excited about our conversation today. I think it's a very interesting topic. It's certainly a contemporary one in the marketing and marketing MSP worlds, and looking forward to it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, me too, man. Man, AI is evolving quickly. We'll definitely get into that. But yeah, I'm excited to talk about this because it's very relevant to what's going on with marketing. So thank you for taking the time to be here. Before we jump in, I want to help people get to know you a little bit. So I'm going to ask you some rapid fire questions if you're ready to jump in.

Devin Rose
Yep, let's do it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
All right, man, when you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

Devin Rose
I'm a serial hobbyist and always trying something new. But these days I've been really getting into gardening and urban farming. And I like to spend a lot of time cooking, reading, and I picked up paddleboarding last summer and have been enjoying that, although we haven't had too great weather where I'm located in Vancouver so far this year, but really looking forward to getting out in the water a bunch this summer.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Cool. I love it, man. I got into paddleboarding early in the pandemic, and Man, it is so much fun. It's super relaxing. So I'm sure you're going to love it. The only thing I will tell you, just be careful about what's going on with wind. You start to get like 10 miles an hour or more wind, paddleboarding becomes a bit challenging. But other than that, have fun with it.

Devin Rose
That's the last thing we've done already, actually. I had a couple of paddles. We're coming home with a little bit more difficult than the way out. So I hear Yeah.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. So what's your hidden talent?

Devin Rose
So I think my hidden talent is analytics, especially in marketing, marketing analytics. I say it's my hidden talent because a lot of people don't think of marketers as really analytical people. But these days, with the nature of marketing and digital marketing, I would argue that analytics is actually more important than a lot of the more creative aspects of marketing. So that's something that I think I'm pretty strong in.

Tim Fitzpatrick
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Devin Rose
I think just to focus on what you can control. It's simple advice, but it's applicable in so many areas of life and can make going through your personal life or work life much more manageable and more relaxing when you just focus on what you can control.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Dude, you are speaking my language, Devin. There are so many things beyond our control. And if we try and focus on those things, you are just destined to be unhappy. So thank you for sharing that because it's a fantastic piece of advice. What's one thing about you that surprises people?

Devin Rose
Well, I'm going to go back to the cooking here. People are usually surprised to learn I'm really good at making pie. I've perfected the art over the years. It's one thing when people learn that you're good at making pie, suddenly people start requesting pies when you're coming for dinners and such. But I can do the lattice top. I can do a whole bunch of different types of flavors and all that. So that's one thing that people find surprising.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Any favorite pie to make?

Devin Rose
My absolute favorite is Blackberry Peach.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Blackberry Peach.

Devin Rose
Yeah.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Dude, that sounds pretty damn good. It's probably interesting. Do they balance each other a bit? Because pretty contrasting fruits.

Devin Rose
Yeah, you get a little bit more of the bitterness with the Blackberries and a little bit more of the sweetness with the peaches. And they go together really nicely. Not a traditional combo, but it's delicious. Definitely my favorite.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. Blackberry peach. There it is. What does success mean to you?

Devin Rose
Not to be cliché, but I would say happiness, security. I think being grounded in your life with those two things is what success means to me.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Where's your happy place?

Devin Rose
Pacific spirit park is my happy place. That is a large park in Vancouver, out near the University of British Columbia. It is a beautiful park. It is also a place that I like to go foraging for chanterelle mushrooms. So And it's just a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. So it's a Pacific spirit park.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Cool. What qualities do you value in the people you spend time with?

Devin Rose
For me, I want to with people who are kind, curious, and fun. If you have that trio, we're probably going to be friends.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Cool. I love it. So, Devin, tell me more about what you guys are doing at eBridge. What types of clients are you working with? How are you helping them?

Devin Rose
Yeah. So eBridge, we're a marketing agency, and we work with MSPs, similar to how MSPs are typically looking to work with companies that don't have their own IT Department or maybe only have one IT personnel on staff. We're the same. So we're the marketing Department for MSPs, and typically work with MSPs that are not so large that they have their own fully function marketing Department. And we're a full service We do a lot of websites, a lot of SEO, content, lead generation, you name it. So we help MSPs grow through marketing.

What Aspects of Marketing is AI Helpful for?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Awesome. Well, Devin, let's talk about AI, man. I think the first question we probably need to tackle here is, what aspects of marketing is AI helpful for?

Devin Rose
Yeah. So this is a really interesting one. When ChatGPT first came onto the scene last winter, like a lot of people, I really started playing around with it. And one thing that I found was really helpful was pre-writing. And I think this is applicable for the audience as well. If you are an MSP owner or an MSP marketer, one of the challenges that you're going to find when you're trying to do content creation is just getting going, finding the time to actually write and cutting through that initial writer's block. But AI is great for prewriting. So for instance, it can help you come up with some topics. Let's say you're an MSP in, let's just say, Vancouver. That's where I'm located. You can ask it to come up with some blog topics for an MSP who's looking to promote cybersecurity services in Vancouver. And it's going to spit 10, 15 blog topics. And then maybe you can choose one of those to focus in on and ask it to come up with an outline for that blog. And obviously, you're not going to want to take that verbatim and just run with it, but it's going to take you 90 % of the way there and give you some really good structure for that blog and let you start writing without having to spend so much time on the prewriting. If you really want to get fancy, too, you can say, okay, well, what some sources I can include in this blog? And it will recommend some sources. So I think that is really one of the most helpful things for AI I've seen so far. Another thing is just taking the first pass to SEO elements. So if you're writing a blog or a page and you need to come up with an SEO title and the meta description, you can just feed the entire content for that page or that blog into a tool ChatGPT and say, Hey, write me a meta description, write me an SEO title. And it does a pretty good job of that. You still want to look at it, which is the theme with AI, and you want to edit it, but it makes it much faster to get that process done. So that has been really helpful. And we're starting to see some of the SEO tools build in that functionality. We like using Yoast, which is a WordPress plugin for SEO, and probably the most commonly used one. And they're starting to build in functionality to use AI to come up with those elements as well. And I don't want to jump too far ahead in our conversation here, but it's going to be interesting to see in the future if all of our SEO elements are AI-based, what's Google going to do? How are they going to react? But for the time being, it's doing a pretty good job of getting those elements written quickly. And so you don't have to outsource that to an SEO expert or anything. You can take it on yourself and do a reasonably good job quickly.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I think, too, there's a few things that I want to pull out of what you just said. One is the pre-writing. We can use AI to save time in content creation. But if you think AI is going to be the marketing easy button, you're sadly mistaken. Do not have it write content and then just copy and paste that right into your blog post and publish it. Because there are people that are doing that, and I think that is a huge mistake.

Devin Rose
Yeah, and admittedly, last winter, we tried some of that internally for our own blogs, and they just didn't perform very well. They didn't get a lot of traffic. And there was some that actually spent quite a lot of time on. There's one blog I wrote where I was asked ChatGPT to summarize a bunch of famous marketing books and then pull out learnings for MSPs. And then I think I used 70 or 80 prompts to try to get this blog where I wanted it before I actually edited it, and it just didn't do anything. So I think the search engines are starting to catch on to what AI generated content. And so they just don't perform very well if you're using them without editing them significantly. And that's why I like taking it to the prewriting place where that still saves time, but then you still have a human that comes in and writes it. That's going to perform a lot better. I'll tell you one exception, though, which is actually very relevant for MSPs is case studies. I've I found that ChatGPT is really good for writing case studies. You still want to edit it, but it's much better writing case studies than it is at writing blogs. And so if you go into ChatGPT and you say you are an MSP writing a case study for one of your clients, and then you have... You lay out, here was the challenge. You put a few bullets that the client was experiencing in terms of their challenge. Here was the solution. And if you bullets there for what you actually did to help them with that IT challenge. Here were the results, and especially if you include a few quantitative measurements in there. And then to include the case study, you can say, here's a comment from the client, ideally, and you put a quote in there. ChatGPT will actually write a very good case study really quickly. And I think it's important for MSPs in particular because case studies are really nice piece of sales collateral for MSPs. You have them on your website. Ideally, you'd have a case study for every industry that you're targeting. But they're also just helpful in terms of email marketing, following up with people, just illustrating what solutions you actually offer. There's so many IT companies, whether it's MSPs or more broad, The claims that they're making are all so similar, and it's hard to actually get across quickly what value is being provided to clients. And case studies are really good at that. So AI is really strong at writing those case studies, and I'd highly recommend giving it a go.

Tim Fitzpatrick
The other thing to pull out of what you just shared, too, is the prompts that you put in AI are really, really important. The quality of the prompt, It is a huge determining factor on the quality of what it spits out. And so the stronger prompt, the more detail you can put in the prompt, I think the more satisfied you're going to be with the output. The other thing, too, I've also found AI can be really good for just initial research, to gather initial data, have it help sort through that data. Again, laying the foundation for what you're then going to build from. Great for that thing, just to gather all kinds of initial information that you can then use to move forward with what you want to do.

Devin Rose
Yeah, I just want to approach it like you would approach looking at a Wikipedia page, right? Where it's a really good start. You can pull on some references, but it's not going to give you something that you can really rely upon 100%. You still want to review it. Maybe if it's really important to you, content you're writing, you're going to want to do some fact checking, et cetera. But it's really good at getting going with those references and sources that would be helpful. Another thing is really strong in too. Sorry, I was going to say, if you're writing blogs and your blogs have images at the top of the page, we used to always rely upon stock imagery for those sorts of images. And we started using AI just because that way you get a custom image. And so many MSP websites, they have the exact same pictures of people with headsets on, an image that says cloud in the middle, and it looks like it's in the space, and it branches off of all these little lines and things. There's so many images to get reused over and over again. And so you can use AI tools to come up with some imagery that's more unique and doesn't take a lot of time. So that's another really good use of AI.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's a really good point, Evan. What tools are you guys using for AI image creation?

Devin Rose
ChatGPT, I believe they have new imagery creation. But to be honest, Tim, my team is mostly the one who's doing it. So I actually haven't played around the image creation too much. Well, I can't remember the name of the other one.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Midjourney is-

Devin Rose
That was the one on top of my tongue there.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, Midjourney, as far as I can tell, seems to be the strongest AI image creation tool out there. The only thing I don't personally don't care for about Midjourney is it's on Discord, and it's just a weird interface for me. A lot of people probably just don't even twice about it once they start getting on there. I just don't really care for Discord, but Midjourney seems to be the strongest tool at this point. But I totally agree with you. As that continues to get better and better, and there's going to be a ton of these tools, our use of stock images is going to just... It's going to go away because you're going to go into the tool, tell it what you want. It's going to spit out three or four choices, and you're going to pick one and move on. And that is going to be a fantastic tool.

Devin Rose
And I think the other thing, too, is going back to your point about the prompts. You can carry forward consistency in terms of the branding of all the images that you're using if you're clever with the prompts. You could even feed in some use these colors. These are branded colors, or this is the look and the feel I want. And engineer that to carry forward a consistent look and feel between all the imagery. Yeah.

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Where AI Struggle When it Comes to Marketing

Tim Fitzpatrick
Where are you seeing AI struggle when it comes to marketing stuff?

Devin Rose
So for me, it's the full form content. We touched on the blogs already. That's an obvious one. Web content. It's just not very good at writing compelling content. And you can tell now, I think a lot of people can tell when something is just written by AI. It has too many adjectives and odd places. There's too many transition words between sentences, and it just doesn't really flow that well. It's not very persuasive. And similarly, for those reasons, content that's meant to convert more sales emails, follow up emails, things like that. It's just not very personal, and it's not compelling. So I think it's at least at the current stage, it's not very good at that thing. Who knows what it's going to look like in three, four years, it could change. But for the time being, I think that full form and sales content, it's really not very strong at.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So for more copywriting type stuff, like you said, sales stuff, things that meant to persuade, you may not be super happy with the output that you get.

Devin Rose
Yeah, exactly.

Tim Fitzpatrick
And again, just to go back to my point earlier, so many of us are looking for this marketing easy button. And I think a lot of people see AI as that easy button. And I would highly recommend that you not go down that path because there are plenty of people that are going to sell it like, Hey, it's the AI marketing tool. This is all you're ever going to need. That's BS. The quality that you're going to get from that is It's going to be okay. It's not going to be great if you're just using that for everything that you're doing. You have to be involved in that process, and you have to oversee it and double check what the output is. And is this really how you want to say things? You know what I mean?

Devin Rose
Yeah, I 100 % agree. The only exception I would say is if you're just starting out and don't have anything in place. It's better to have AI written, like follow up emails, for instance, than no follow up emails. But if you If you want to be a sophisticated marketer, you want to have a funnel that's actually performing well, you do need to have that human element, the human review element. It's really important. But if you're not blogging, use AI to get your blogs going. If you don't follow up emails, get those going with AI, social media posts, all that stuff. It's better to have some of it than none of it. I do agree, though.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. And I do agree with I'd rather see doing something than nothing at all.

Devin Rose
Yeah.

Tim Fitzpatrick
But you need to just be realistic that it's going to show some activity. It's going to show you're out there and you're consistent. Is it going to be super effective and incredibly persuasive? Probably not.

Devin Rose
Yeah.

The Future of AI and Marketing

Tim Fitzpatrick
So Devin, let's break out the crystal ball a little bit. What do you see coming down the pipe for AI and marketing? You touched on this a little bit.

Devin Rose
Yeah. I mean, first of all, I think it's going to be fascinating to see what happens. I have some ideas, but let's be honest, there's so many unknowns right now in this space, and I think one way or another, it's going to be very disruptive in the years to come. I do think it's stagnated a little bit since winter last year, but I expect it's going to continue to have a massive impact in the years to come. One of the biggest things that you hear people talking about is just the signal to noise ratio when it comes to content online. And because it is so easy to produce content now, how are the search engines going to react? How are marketers going to react? Is content still going to king going forward? Content now is not written only for an SEO perspective. There's a benefit for users as well. But SEO is definitely a big part of it. And these days we have a pretty good idea about what needs to be included in content for it to be strong from an SEO perspective. But what about optimizing for AI? Is that going to be a new field? Like AI optimization, AIO, is that going to be a thing? I suspect it will. I think we're already seeing a little bit of it, but it's in its infancy. So maybe that will be a big component because what if in the future someone who's searching for a managed service provider goes to ChatGPT and says, what's the top managed service provider in Vancouver? How do you rank in that list? I don't think anyone really has a great answer for that quite yet. It's going to be a developing field, but I think it's going to be a big part of and so how are we going to deal with that signal to noise ratio? There's so much content, how are you going to stand out?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Before we started recording, we were talking a little bit about Perplexity, which if you're watching or listening and you're not familiar with that, go check it out. Perplexity is an AI-based search engine. So I can go in there, type in my question, and it spits out an answer, but then it's also got references to where the content came from. So if you want to dig deeper, you can. But the reality is a lot of us are not going to dig deeper. So if we're going into AI tools like that or ChatGPT, and I know ChatGPT is working on... Or OpenAI is working on their own AI-based search engine. If we're going to search engines or to AI to gather that information and we're not then clicking on links that are driving traffic to people's websites. If I'm only creating content from a standpoint of SEO, is there really a value for me doing that moving forward? I don't necessarily have the answer to that, but I can pretty confidently say it's going to change dramatically. I mean, you can already see it. So if I'm creating content that the AI is using to train the model, but it's not driving traffic back to me, where's the benefit to me as a business from an SEO standpoint?

Devin Rose
I agree. And one thing I've been wondering about is, are we going to start seeing a return to more old school marketing tactics? Things like print advertising. Are people going to look more towards magazines and newspapers than they did in the past because they know it's an actual journalist writing it and not some AI that's just regurgitating what's already been published online? In that case, there are going to be more print ads? How about things like billboards, radio ads? These are things that have really decreased in popularity over the last 20 years or so. Even direct mail, that one's tricky because people are working from home more, and it's hard to do direct mail for people working from home. But anyway, just overall, I'm curious if the more old school tactics that have gone by the wayside because they're more for brand awareness than they are for direct conversions. And of course, most companies want direct conversions. But if those more conversion oriented tactics stop paying dividends, will companies resort more to the brand awareness tactics that are more old school?

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, yeah. Well, are we going to start seeing some ads within the AI tools we're using, right? When it spits out an answer to a question, are we going to see some ads that might be relevant to that particular question, but then drive traffic back? Because you look at Google's business model. I mean, they're making a lot of money off of search ads. If we're going to an AI tool for that information, what does that mean for them long term? I mean, they're plenty of smart people that work there that are working on figuring that out. But we got to know that there are going to be changes there in some way, shape or form.

Devin Rose
Yeah, I could see there being like a freemium model, or maybe you pay for no ads, much like ChayGPT is right now where you can pay for the better version. Maybe the better version in the future will be the one without ads, and the free one will be the one with ads. I could totally see that being something that they look into.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's an interesting idea, Devin, because we're seeing that with streaming services, right? Initially, all the streaming services you paid, the vast majority of them did not have ads. Now, almost all of them have ads. Even though you're paying, they've got ads. If you don't want to see ads, then you're paying extra. So that could certainly be a very interesting model that some of them start to look at where you've got various tiers. And if you don't want to see ads, then you're paying more.

Devin Rose
Yeah, I'd be surprised if that doesn't happen, to be honest. Now that we're talking about it, I'd be very surprised if it doesn't happen.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Well, they're all... I mean, they're all... You look at Netflix, Amazon, Hulu. I mean, they're all heavily focused on ads at this point. And is it as bad as regular cable TV was? I mean, no, the commercials aren't as long, but they're still there. So I do think that it's going to evolve. I think there's going to be some type of ads at some point within that. And what's going to happen with SEO? I don't know. It's going to change dramatically. I'm pretty sure of that.

Devin Rose
Yeah. Another one that I'm really curious about is the marketing automation side of things and the lead nurturing, especially for a large organization of leads being generated and prospects being generated is higher. And there's just a lot of data to consider when it comes to doing things like lead scoring and figuring out which content to serve people at which times. Anytime there's a lot of data that could be analyzed, it seems like something where AI could be adding a lot of value and maybe customizing what's being sent out to people to a greater extent. So I'm curious to see what happens there. And for that matter, maybe I feel like some of these tools will be a little bit more affordable even for smaller organizations because there's some really great marketing automation tools out there, but they tend to be pretty pricey and prohibitively so, especially for smaller organizations. But maybe utilizing some automation would help create some efficiencies there.

Tim Fitzpatrick
You also bring up something that we did not touch on when we talked about some of the benefits of AI. The analyzing data side of it, you can load an image with data, you can load a spreadsheet in there and ask it prompts to, what are you seeing in this data? Are you seeing common trends? Are there things that are sticking out to you? And utilize the AI to analyze the data. Man, it can analyze data sets so much faster than we can as humans. And and pull out important in trends or warning signs that it's seeing. Using AI for that, I think, is a great way as well right now.

Devin Rose
Oh, yeah, I 100 % agree. That's probably only going to get better.

Conclusion

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, it's only going to get better. So we are in the infancy, but man, it's evolving very quickly. So it's like you said earlier, it's going to be very interesting to see and watch it all unfold. And I just feel like as business owners, we just want to make sure that our eyes are open to it, that we are paying attention to what's going on so that we can figure out how we're going to utilize it to benefit our businesses and benefit our clients. So any last minute thoughts you want to leave us with, Devon? This has been great, man. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Devin Rose
Yeah, Tim. One last thing I'd like to leave people with is so often people are looking for the silver bullet when it comes to marketing for MSPs. And I always like to say that there is no silver bullet. It's really about doing all the things that are already known, but doing them well. So it's having a good website, it's having some good sales collateral So it's following up with people in a timely manner, having some lead-nurturing process, maybe doing some basic ads, basic social media presence. All these things together are what contributes to the success for marketing in our space. So if you're looking for a silver bullet, it's really doing the basics and doing them well and doing them well over a stretch of time. And that's what's going to make you successful in terms of generating good quality leads. So if you are interested in some help with that an approach, I'd be happy to talk to anyone who's listening and to figure out how we can help build up that machinery for them.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It's interesting you bring that up. It reminds me of... I can't remember who this quote is from. I wish I could. But something the effect of to be successful, we don't need to do extraordinary things, we just need to do simple things extraordinarily well. So many of it... I mean, in the MSP space, frankly, I think most spaces are like this. The bar is set pretty low. I mean, there's a lot of people that are not doing very good work. We just need to do the simple things really, really well. And that's what you're talking about, is just going back to the fundamentals, the principles, and just execute on things consistently over time. Where can people learn more about you?

Devin Rose
Yeah, if you'd like to reach out, our website is ebridgemarketingsolutions.com. My email address is devin@ebridgemarketingsolutions.com. It's Devin, D-E-V-I-N. I'd be happy to jump on a call if anyone is listening, or you can find out some more information on our website.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. Those of you watching, listening, thank you for doing so. Devin, thank you for being here. Go connect with devon@ebridgemarketingsolutions.com. If you want to connect with us, you can do that over at rialtomarketing.com. The other tool we've also got available is over at RevenueRoadblockScorecard.com. If you want to know which of the nine revenue roadblocks are slowing down your growth, you can do that in less than five minutes there. Tons of great info in there. Customized reports, so go check that out. Thank you again, Devin. Appreciate it. And until next time, take care.


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