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Evolving B2B Marketing Strategy with Artificial Intelligence and an AI Task Force

Posted on Oct 17th, 2023
Written by Lee Odden
  • Blog
  • B2B Marketing
  • Evolving B2B Marketing Strategy with Artificial Intelligence and an AI Task Force
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    Generative AI is arguably one of the most exciting innovations in business and marketing of our time. While most efforts to understand the implications of GenAI are tactical and application focused, transformative technologies of this magnitude require a shift in strategy too.

    At Content Marketing World Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at Jasper and Jessica Hreha, Head of Global Integrated Campaigns and Demand Content Strategy at VMware shared how marketers can evolve their marketing strategy through an intentional and structured approach to implementing AI.

    This post summarizes their presentation, Artificial Intelligence: A Turning Point for Marketing Team Structure and Strategy starting with thoughts on content marketing team structure and strategy from Meghan:

    Meghan Keaney Anderson

    Meghan Keaney Anderson – Jasper

    “The advent of AI is about shifting and adjusting not outright replacement. One for one replacement of humans for AI is just a bad idea.” Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP Marketing at Jasper

    Multiple turning points have enabled modern business to evolve from the internet itself to the proliferation of mobile devices to now, the rapid embrace and application of Generative AI. The barriers to creation at scale have been removed.

    But here’s the thing. AI is not magic. AI is just a tool. What we do with it is on us.

    AI alone is good at “unbridled capacity” and Dad jokes. What it is not good at is knowing your audience, accuracy, originality, the human perspective, lived experience or judgement.

    So how do we best take advantage of the opportunities available to create content with Gen AI?

    A strategic approach to best leveraging what’s possible with AI involves a fresh look at your content marketing team structure. Being more strategic vs. tactical will help humans make the most of what Gen AI can do and solve for what it doesn’t do well.

    The Managing Editor – Original Idea Generator:

    • Understands the audience & space
    • Sets the editorial agenda
    • Writes the source brief
    • Defines the company’s perspective.
    • Sets the strategy in motion

    Journalist / Researcher – Skilled at Substance:

    • Finds original angles
    • Conducts first-hand research
    • Interviews expert perspectives
    • Uplevels the substance of your content.

    Editor / Factchecker – Get the Facts Straight:

    • Reviews for the right AI/human blend.
    • Checks for inaccuracies
    • Checks for biases & underrepresentation
    • Checks for grammar & style
    • Runs optimization checks
    • Ensures quality and trustworthiness.

    Campaign Strategist / Programming – Maximize Distribution

    • Strategizes with channel owners
    • Creates distribution plans
    • Engages partners
    • Develops remixing strategy
    • Makes projections and sets up tracking
    • Orchestrates distribution and outcomes

    With this structure, people can do what they do best and GenAI can help with the rest.

    There’s plenty of research from Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProfs and others indicating that many content marketers are not operating with a documented content marketing strategy. And experience reminds us that even those with a strategy are not actively using it to guide the full spectrum of content planning, production and distribution activities.

    At Jasper, AI is the central feverous system for the business. Feeding that system with facts and with briefs fuels everything that follows. With the brief as a source of truth, the Jasper AI platform can then adapt it to any format, language or customer segment. Regardless of application, “the idea stays”.

    From a distribution perspective, organic search on Google continues to be a moving target. AI results on Google, or search generative experience, are much harder to influence and growing in search real estate for those who have that feature enabled.

    Organic link search results are what most SEO activities are able to influence but they are shrinking in search results real estate, pushed down by AI results and ads.

    Perspectives is a first person search experience that is easier to influence and is about key people, not keywords. This is a fresh opportunity for content distribution.

    “When information becomes cheap, perspective will become everything.”

    The additional E in Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (EEAT) is about Experience, representing a focus on first-hand experience on a topic. That insight means content creators should consider not only demonstrating depth of expertise, but covering the topic from a first-hand experience standpoint.

    “We’re shifting from how-to content to how-I content. Krista Doyle, Head of Onsite Content Strategy, Jasper.

    This translates to influence of people. (A message we at TopRank Marketing thoroughly endorse!)

    As search is getting harder to crack, new channels of influence ranging from Slack Connect to LinkedIn to Communities to Creator platforms are strengthening.

    We are evolving from a focus on keywords to Key People.

    To talk about the implication for standards, Jessica Hreha from VMWare shared her experiences in founding VMWare’s Marketing AI Council.

    Jessica Hreha

    Jessica Hreha – VMware

    Talking about the possibilities of GenAI is one thing, but bringing it into an organization in a meaningful way is another. Here is the approach Jessica took in founding an AI Task force (the Marketing AI Council) at VMware.

    1. Bringing People Together

    Jessica started out with outreach to other marketers to test interest. Her advice was to start the conversation and create a forum for dialog and gauge interest, participation and which communication channels will work best.

    2. Define your Purpose and Goals. Determine Council Composition

    The Marketing AI Council at VMwware is a cross-functional team dedicated to educating and empowering marketers to use GenAI tools responsibly and effectively. The purpose of the council is centered on tool evaluation, piloting and onboarding, governance around use of GenAI tools ethically and responsibly, and supporting the teams with education and training, current technology and best practices. And don’t forget to invite legal, IT and an executive sponsor.

    3. Develop AI Usage Policies and Guidelines

    An executive announcement was shared providing guidelines for using AI tools to create marketing content at VMware.

    Guideline examples:

    • Draft copy to spark ideas and jumpstart content creation
    • Summarize or remix content
    • Refine your inputs
    • Protect your company’s IP
    • Safeguard personal data
    • Cite your sources
    • Review your content for accuracy and unintentional bias

    Jessica suggests that you clearly define what employees can and can’t do.

    4. Provide AI Training and Upskilling

    Offer educational resources and workshops to teach employees AI concepts and skills. Lean on vendors.

    As a function of council membership, participants commit to responsibilities that include

    • Lead Dialogue – Run council meetings, publish a newsletter, communicate activities to leadership, establish GenAI forums and POCs with other organizations
    • Pilot Use Cases – Identify pilot opportunities, build and track success criteria, onboard new vendors, maintain visibility into pilots across GMO
    • Drive Enablement – Create and execute enablement programs that include training, newsletter, Slack channel
    • Promote Best Practices – Publish and maintain GenAI guidelines and best practices in collaboration with Legal and Comms
    • Manage Workstreams – Organize work streams to deep dive into specific use cases as GenAI evolves

    5. Share achievements and learnings

    To motivate Marketing AI Council participants, it’s important to recognize teams and individuals who are advancing AI adoption and innovation. Be transparent in sharing both successes and failures as well as fostering community and exploration.

    Now that’s a lot to digest and offers marketers a rich resource for getting started on developing their own Marketing AI Council. But Jessica had a few more important insights to share regarding Core Values that I think are just as, if not more powerful for translating an initiative like this from idea to impact:

    AI Literacy – AI literacy is foundational to safe, effective and ethical use of generative AI. Organizations have a responsibility to reskill their workers to succeed in the age of GenAI.

    Employee Benefits – Productivity gains from GenAI usage must benefit workers as well as their businesses

    Greater Good – Show others how to leverage GenAI for the greater good. Advocacy and enablement can extend beyond the workplace, to personal causes and community engagements.

    AI doesn’t become transformatonal until we do.

    I think it’s safe to say that the fusion of human creativity with AI’s capabilities is not just the future — it’s the present. VMware’s creation of a Marketing AI council and partnership with AI platform Jasper provides a compelling blueprint for companies looking to start their own GenAI marketing adventures.

    For more perspectives on the intersection of generative AI and B2B marketing, check out these posts:

    Learn more about TopRank Marketing’s Content Marketing Solutions with or without AI integration.