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The Proliferation of AI Begs the Question: Are We Still Important?

Updated: May 1

The era of artificial intelligence is upon us, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m afraid as I slap myself in the face, ala Moonstruck, click my heels, ala The Wizard of Oz, and repeat over and over again, “AI will not replace me. AI will not replace me.”

Will AI outperform my creativity? Can it understand the nuances of marketing, including how to develop unique brand voices and customer personas or articulate my clients’ unique competitive values? 

I comfort myself in the knowledge that AI marketing tools have been around for a very long time, even before my career began, and for perspective, I remember what mimeograph paper smells like. 

For example, “the first spelling checker was created at MIT in 1961 by Les Earnest as part of the first cursive handwriting recognizer and used a list of the 10,000 most common English words, ” according to Stanford University. I doubt any of us lament the introduction of that innovation. In fact, I owe my entire career to it.


The Scarlet Letter Was Actually an F

In tenth grade, I came home in tears and handed my mother my English paper, which featured a big red F at the top, followed by dozens of little red lines, xs, and comments. The F was based on a two-point deduction for each spelling mistake. I was completely demoralized. My teacher noted that while my ideas were good, I needed to try harder and catch all of those typos in the future. What he didn't know didn’t know was that those weren’t typos. I couldn’t and still can’t visualize words.

Now, staring down at the marked-up essay, my mother’s jaw locked, and her eyes narrowed, a true sign of anger. “He can’t pick up oculomotor dysfunction?” she muttered.

I could feel the blood rush to my face. I felt like someone had just punched me in my stomach. “What?” I asked.

My mother didn’t have time to indulge me. It was 7:30, and as the head of the school’s remedial reading department, she had lesson plans to finalize, and I had to get back to washing the dishes. It was my night. (Ahh... the 1970s, when kids were expected to grow their own self-esteem and do chores at the same time.) 

“You have an eye condition. Your eyes jump around when you read. It causes spelling problems.”

This was all news to me. Apparently, she had diagnosed me in elementary school and hadn't told me or my teachers. “I didn’t want you labeled. That would follow you through school and you probably wouldn’t be on a college track. You’re smart enough, though. I’ll talk to your teacher but, please try harder.”

So, I tried harder and white-knuckled my way through high school and college writing assignments. But by the time I began my career in media relations, the magical spell-check software was everywhere. Thank you, faceless spell-checker software engineers. I owe you big time.


 AI is a Tool, Not a Replacement, Unless, of Course, You Are Also a Tool

AI can enhance our capabilities, as demonstrated above. It excels at processing vast amounts of data, identifying patterns, and providing analytical insights that can take ages for humans to compute. And while it can mimic the human voice and writing styles, it always just misses the mark. For example, as a joke for my husband, I asked ChatGPT to write song lyrics about our foster dog, Benji, in the style of #TaylorSwift. I have to admit, it was pretty good, but it was by no stretch of the imagination T Swift-level poetry. Also, last time I checked, ChatGPT still can't take your clients out to dinner. 

 I believe (another thing AI can’t do) successful, long-term business relationships depend on authentic human interaction because..

 AI will always be second best to human-to-human exchanges, unless we are talking about lawyers, in which case AI will most certainly be a nicer experience. (I bet you didn’t see that last comment coming, did you? Did it make you smile? Are you offended? Were you surprised? AI-generated content wouldn’t do any of those things. In other words, it’s fair to assume that AI would bomb at the comedy club open-mic night.)

Unlike AI, the creative process doesn't immediately make sense and is best nurtured in a judgment-free environment where random, disconnected thoughts are encouraged in brainstorming sessions. This ultimately leads to fresher, original perspectives that cut through the clutter and resonate with your intended audiences. But for those who prefer content soldiers over strategists and creative professionals, AI is tailor-made for you. Beware, though: over-dependence on AI content will make your marketing lifeless and speak to few outside of search engine bots. 

Far from eliminating the need for marketers and other white-collar workers, the rapid emergence of robust AI tools should be seen not as a threat but as a compelling opportunity to revisit and reaffirm the intrinsic value of people in business. It encourages us to leverage our uniquely human skills — creativity, empathy, and intuition — which are more crucial than ever. 

Using AI strategically can free up valuable time so you can engage in meaningful interactions, build better relationships, and even take a moment to play a game of fetch… with your lawyer.


About the Author: Mary MacLeod Jones

Mary MacLeod Jones is a seasoned marketing communications consultant based in Maine. Her expertise centers around strategic marketing planning, and she is keen on integrating cutting-edge tools, including artificial intelligence, to enhance customer engagement. Mary's professional journey is marked by a deep commitment to refining digital marketing strategies to keep pace with evolving technologies; she recently completed the Digital Marketing Strategy program through Yale's School of Executive Management. To learn more about Mary and read the # TaylorSwift-inspired poem about her foster dog Benji and the ChatGPT text that inspired this post, please visit www.holdfastcomm.com.



Read the Pre-Edited ChatGPT version of this post.


ChatGPT Instructions from Me: Write a blog post about the following themes: You are not the only one afraid of AI. Marketers like me are petrified but, here's the good news; nothing can replace human relationships and the power of trusted partnerships. The introduction of AI gives us all an opportunity to revisit the value of human interaction in business.


ChatGPT

Embracing AI in Marketing: The Continued Importance of Human Relationships

As we edge deeper into the era of artificial intelligence, it’s clear that I am not alone in my apprehension about this transformative technology. Like many of my peers in marketing, I find myself oscillating between excitement for the possibilities and a deep-seated fear of the unknown. However, amidst this sea of change, there’s comforting news that remains steadfast: the irreplaceable value of human relationships and the enduring power of trusted partnerships.

The Root of Our Fear

The fear that marketers experience stems largely from the unknown capabilities of AI. Will AI outperform human creativity? Can it replicate the nuanced understanding of consumer behavior that seasoned marketers bring to the table? These questions are not unique to our field but permeate various industries worldwide. The rapid advancement and integration of AI technologies into marketing tools have led to an existential pondering about the future role of human marketers.

AI as a Tool, Not a Replacement

However, it’s crucial to recognize that AI is a tool rather than a replacement. It is designed to enhance our capabilities, not overshadow them. AI excels at processing vast amounts of data, identifying patterns, and providing analytical insights that can take ages for humans to compute. These capabilities can significantly boost our strategic planning and decision-making processes, allowing us to be more efficient and proactive.

For instance, AI-powered analytics can help us understand consumer trends and behaviors at a scale and speed unachievable by humans alone. But interpreting these insights with an understanding of cultural nuances, emotional intelligence, and creative flair is where marketers continue to shine. AI lacks the capability to genuinely connect with human emotions and craft messages that resonate on a personal level — a core aspect of successful marketing.

The Power of Human Connection

This brings us to the undiminished power of human relationships. In the world of marketing, trust and personal connections are the bedrocks upon which long-term partnerships are built. Clients and consumers alike seek authenticity, a trait that machines have yet to master. The personal touch, understanding client needs beyond numbers, empathizing with their concerns, and celebrating shared successes are aspects of business relationships that cannot be automated.

Moreover, the strategic discussions, the brainstorming sessions with creative sparks flying, and the deep, sometimes challenging conversations about brand vision and values are deeply human aspects that forge stronger bonds and successful campaigns. These elements highlight the unique value that human interaction brings to the table — something that AI is far from replicating.

Revisiting the Value of Human Interaction

The advent of AI should be seen not as a threat but as a compelling opportunity to revisit and reaffirm the value of human interaction in business. It encourages us to leverage our uniquely human skills — creativity, empathy, and intuition — which are more crucial than ever. By integrating AI tools, we can free up more time to engage in meaningful interactions and build relationships that are the cornerstone of successful marketing.

Conclusion

While AI will undoubtedly continue to shape the landscape of marketing in ways we are only beginning to understand, it is essential to remember that the core of marketing remains unchanged. It is about connecting, understanding, and building relationships. As marketers, our challenge is to harness the power of AI to enhance our capabilities without losing sight of the personal touch that defines our profession. In this new digital age, let us not fear AI but instead embrace it as a partner that can help us underscore the importance of human connection in the digital marketplace.

rewiteAbout the Author: Mary MacLeod Jones is a marketing communications consultant in Maine. Her focus is on strategic marketing planning and using new tools, including AI, to improve customer conversations. Mary Digital Marketing Strategies and is an Alumnus of the Yale School of Executive Management.

ChatGPT

About the Author: Mary MacLeod Jones

Mary MacLeod Jones is a seasoned marketing communications consultant based in Maine. Her expertise centers around strategic marketing planning, with a keen interest in integrating cutting-edge tools, including artificial intelligence, to enhance customer engagement. Mary's professional journey is marked by a deep commitment to refining digital marketing strategies to keep pace with evolving technologies. She holds an esteemed qualification from the Yale School of Executive Management, which underpins her analytical and strategic approach to marketing challenges. Mary's dedication to her field is evident in her continuous pursuit of knowledge and her innovative application of new technologies to traditional marketing principles.


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