Breaking the Creative Barrier with AI

Written By Bethan Vincent.

At the recent Parallax Applied AI Leeds event in April 2023, I explored the exciting fusion of creativity and technology, and how generative AI and models like GPT-4 offer unprecedented opportunities for marketers to streamline their workflows and tap into new levels of creativity. This article delves into the main points of my talk, plus you can download the full deck at the end.

The marketing industry’s most groundbreaking results have long been driven by the fusion of creativity and technology. With AI already reshaping the marketing landscape, the key to unlocking its full potential lies in striking a delicate balance between embracing its power and preserving the human touch that defines truly exceptional marketing.

Moving beyond table stakes

Before generative AI and tools like ChatGPT, marketers were already leveraging automation to handle low-level tasks and streamline their operations. This early adoption of automation laid the groundwork for AI’s integration into marketing, allowing businesses to further focus on creativity and strategy above and beyond marketing admin.

AI’s most basic use case in marketing includes automating low-level tasks like keyword analysis and writing transactional emails. However, the real excitement lies in harnessing AI’s potential for more complex and large-scale marketing functions such as budget allocation and optimisation, resource allocation and campaign orchestration.

Budget allocation and optimisation: AI-driven marketing platforms can analyse vast amounts of data to determine the most effective allocation of marketing budgets across various channels and campaigns. By continuously monitoring performance and adjusting budget allocations in real-time, AI can help marketers maximise their return on investment and achieve better results across multiple channels and activities.

Resource allocation: In addition to optimising budgets, AI can also assist in the efficient allocation of human and technical resources. For example, AI-powered project management tools can analyse team members’ skills, availability, and workload to assign tasks and resources in the most optimal manner.

Campaign orchestration at scale: AI-driven marketing automation platforms can help marketers design, launch, and manage large-scale marketing campaigns across multiple channels with ease. These tools can not only automate repetitive tasks but also apply recommendations for campaign optimisation in real-time.

Leveraging AI in these areas is particularly viable for larger companies with access to vast amounts of data, which raises concerns about potential monopolistic effects. Smaller businesses in the future may struggle to compete with the efficiency and scale of AI-driven marketing efforts by larger firms.

Should we be using AI to write content?

One of the most hotly debated questions is whether or not AI should be used to write content. While it’s clear that simply cutting and pasting from ChatGPT is not great, there is still a debate surrounding the use of AI for content creation in other capacities.

Using AI to generate content outlines can be a valuable tool for marketers looking to streamline their content planning process. However, it’s essential to recognise the limitations of AI as a generative tool, as it’s ultimately a prediction engine working out the next word based on likely probabilities. ChatGPT and similar AI models can make interesting new connections between topics, but they cannot come up with truly novel ideas, yet. By relying on AI to do the heavy lifting in ideation, marketers may find themselves circulating around reductive, easy-to-copy outputs.

The Law of Shitty Click-Through Rates (LSCTR) is a principle stating that over time, the effectiveness of marketing tactics tends to diminish as more and more marketers adopt them, leading to market saturation and diminishing returns. This law can be observed across various marketing channels, such as display ads, which boomed once first introduced and now scrape a 0.1% CTR if you’re lucky.

As AI-generated content becomes more accessible and widely used, there’s a risk that the novelty and effectiveness of mass-produced content will begin to decline. This aligns with the LSCTR, which predicts that the effectiveness of a marketing tactic will decline as it becomes more common.

To counteract the potential impact of the LSCTR on AI-generated content, marketers must strive to maintain a balance between leveraging AI’s capabilities and preserving their unique, human touch. AI can be an invaluable tool for generating ideas, suggesting topics, and identifying trends, but it should not be relied upon as the sole source of content creation. It’s all about augmentation.

Unlocking creativity

I am continually exploring ways to effectively integrate AI into my creative process without losing the human touch that makes my work unique. Instead of viewing AI as a replacement for my own creativity, I have found that embracing it as a complementary tool can significantly enhance my creative output in three key ways (see talk deck below for real life examples):

Acceleration: During the initial stages of the creative process, my first batch of ideas often lacks originality or spark. A wise creative writing tutor once told me that the first 30 minutes of writing is all about getting the crap ideas about your head. That’s why it feels so painful. Since AI-generated content like ChatGPT tends to be based on existing patterns and trends, I use it to quickly generate these “bad” ideas, effectively taking the reductive concepts off the table. By using AI to accelerate this early stage of the creative process, I can clear the path for more innovative and original ideas to emerge.

Reflection: Another way I use AI to enhance my creativity is by reflecting on my own creative output. For example, after writing an article or developing a marketing strategy, I often use AI to summarise the key points or arguments I’ve made which I can then review for completeness.

This helps me ensure that I haven’t missed anything important and that my messaging is consistent and coherent. Additionally, AI can help me identify gaps in my arguments or inconsistencies in my messaging. This process is akin to “rubber-ducking” my copy at scale.

Variation: I also use AI to generate variations of my original content, providing me with different perspectives on how to present my ideas. By exploring alternative phrasings, sentence structures, or even entire paragraph arrangements, I can identify more engaging and impactful ways to convey my message.

The future of AI and creativity

To fully harness AI’s potential in marketing, we’ve got to strike the perfect balance between utilising its capabilities and maintaining the human touch that makes truly exceptional marketing stand out. AI can be our trusty sidekick in this journey, enhancing our creativity through variation, reflection, and acceleration. However, it’s up to us to ensure our unique perspectives and creative instincts take the lead.

So, let’s not blindly rely on AI-generated content verbatim. Instead, let’s use it to sharpen and elevate our own creative ideas.

Download my full talk deck

Photo of Bethan Vincent

Bethan Vincent, Managing Partner

B2B marketer and entrepreneur, with over 12 years of marketing experience and leading teams at Marketing Director level. Bethan knows what it’s like to start your own businesses, they are a regular speaker at international conferences and podcast host of ‘The Brave’.

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