How to Make Your Marketing Communications Stand Out Amid AI-Driven Commodity Content

Posted on by Zach Giglio and Dustin Siggins

writing email

AI has made many people’s jobs easier, faster and more productive. Applications like ChatGPT have improved knowledge professionals’ quality of work by a whopping 40%, according to the Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group, and a Stanford study found that AI improves frontline workers productivity by 14%.

However, all of this increased speed and productivity has given leaders a new challenge: when anyone can create commoditized content, how can you stand out in the marketplace of ideas?

The pros and cons of information access

The 20th century saw the rise of the Internet and access to all of the world’s information. But that access came with a price—called Wikipedia—which forced people who devoted their lives to research and reliable facts to compete with a glorified Internet forum, to which anyone could contribute.

Then social media revolutionized the world by eliminating barriers to communication access. You could post a video that goes viral across continents, but that also means that every opinion becomes equally important—no matter how ill-informed or how poorly structured.

Now, it seems like a 12-year-old with a smartphone can generate the same written asset as a 35-year-old with real life and industry experience. And while that may excite a CEO because e-mail newsletters and white papers can be produced at warp speed, effective chief marketing officers will show those same CEOs that speed means nothing without an innovative content strategy.

That means going back to communication basics.

Who do you want to reach?

[Human writers’ note: It should actually be whom. AI might not tell you that—but your audience will notice!]

The first step to creating a unique point of view that will stand above the churn is knowing your target audiences. The content creators of the future must have ready at hand the data, stories and experiences that qualify them in the eyes and ears of their intended audience.

Once you’ve identified with whom you want to connect, the next step is to think about what you want to tell them. AI can pump out thesis statements, body paragraphs and all the rest, but the maxim “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” applies here. Subject lines, headlines, video subtitles—the content which will dictate whether people decide to pay attention – will be only as good as how they feel it applies to them. The best communicators will use language that establishes credibility and generates interest.

Third, use every word you need and none that you don’t. This doesn’t mean avoiding long-form content; it does mean eliminating jargon and anything else that doesn’t convey expertise and uniqueness as clearly as possible.

What is your unique voice?

Clear, concise content is wonderful. It certainly elevates the narrative above sixth-graders and chimpanzees. But there are also plenty of people who have “clear” and “concise” down. The next step to creating top-tier content is adding a unique, genuine voice.

Your brand’s voice is how your leadership team wants the brand to be seen and heard in the marketplace of ideas. The company might have expertise in forward-looking analysis, assessing information from the past, or explaining the world right now…but should the spokespeople be contrarian, a data geek or an industry defender? Understanding these self-framing elements will elevate content from ““well done” to “I have to get to know (and pay) that person.”

Finally, determine what styles fit spokespeoples’ unique voices best. Academic papers and thought leadership op-eds require different skills than starting and supercharging social media discussions. And data geeks must communicate differently from those who use empathy or instinct to generate credibility.

Where will your voice resonate?

If the perfectly crafted YouTube presentation plays on a computer in the middle of the woods, with no one to watch it, does it make a sound? Nope—and it definitely can’t be transformed into other marketing assets. But your top spokesperson also doesn’t want to be known for having “a face for radio.”

CMOs and other communications leaders must be honest with their team members and spokespeople about where their content can provide the most value. A poor writer might consider venues where her charisma can accentuate the written speech, whereas the instinctive speaker will likely do better in an interview or on a panel.

This signpost circles back to shaping your voice, too. Bill Watterson, the immensely successful creator of Calvin & Hobbes, despised the limelight and unrepentantly left intrusive interviewers languishing in hotel lobbies. Yet his hatred of publicity only raised his profile, as people loved the “antisocial artist hunched over his storyboards” image. You can’t win over everyone, so don’t try—and embrace all of the quirks and shortcomings that will resonate with target audiences.

At the same time, it’s important to avoid relying on standard approaches to turnkey problems. For example, everyone needs to repurpose their content, but not everyone needs Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. You might instead build followers on YouTube or simply drive traffic to an insightful, longform blog. As we discussed above, it depends on who your audience is—which you’ll already know, because you’ve put in the effort to identify it.

That leaves the why

There’s no denying that artificial intelligence is revolutionizing content creation, with bigger and more stunning changes to come. But one thing that won’t change is human inspiration. C-3PO knows six million languages, but he still doesn’t know when to stop talking. And a robot can’t give you the passion or creativity you need to break into the marketplace of ideas.

We’ve saved why for last because, frankly, if you’re reading this article, you likely already have the motivation to bring your ideas to an eager and receptive public. That’s where all of this begins. And once you have all your tools in place—from an AI robot companion to the bedrock principles that have guided successful content creators since the first cave paintings popped up in the caves of Lascaux—you’ll be perfectly situated to become very satisfied, and maybe very rich as well.

Zach Giglio is CEO of GCM. Dustin Siggins is founder of Proven Media Solutions.


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