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One Marketer's Journey Into the World of AI

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This content is republished with permission from Pandata, a Marketing AI Institute partner. It's part of Pandata COO Nicole Ponstingle's first-person guide to how she is accelerating AI transformation for her and her clients. The account takes the form of a journal series covering AI topics. The first two entries in the series are included here, and can be found here and here on Pandata's site.

Part 1: The Journey Begins

By now, we have all heard that AI is revolutionizing marketing and sales. Whether automating traditionally manual processes, using marketing analytics to predict future behavior, or even using it to help select what message resonates with which of your customers, AI is gaining more momentum every day. The question is, are you—as a marketer—ready to embark on the journey?

It may seem daunting, but like anything else, you have to choose your focus and master one thing at a time. While I am the COO (and veteran marketer of 20+ years) of an AI design and development firm, I assure you that I came into the world of AI and data science with way more questions than answers. Over the past 4 years I have learned enough to be dangerous and developed a knack for translating “techie” into language that resonates with our audience of innovative business professionals; especially the marketing message. So when we saw a new role emerging in the industry, it really spoke to me. That’s when my journey to become an AI Translator really began.

I want to write this journal series to chronicle my “quest for AI enlightenment” in hopes that it will resonate with the challenges that many of my fellow marketers are facing. There are so many tools to do so many things, there just isn’t enough time or budget for most of us to use them all; so we need to choose wisely.

But before we start looking at marketing AI and its associated applications and tools, I want to talk about creating a foundation for AI success…and that starts with ethics. Let’s face it, marketing and sales are two of the most human-centered applications of AI, and we as marketers need to be stewards of fairness. 

Data doesn’t lie, but it can be misinterpreted, and that is why we hear so much about bias in AI. When considering the implications an algorithm can have on a wide swath of people, we need to understand the purpose the data you are using was originally collected for. Does it align with the audience and intent of your marketing initiative? Training an algorithm on solely your own data can also lead to bias, as it is likely not representative of the entire market. For example, training a lead qualifying model on a predominantly male customer base can miss out on the female demographic, or even worse, create models that alienate them. As marketers, we all know the pitfalls of appearing skewed and the implications for the reputation of our brand.

While I am just scratching the surface of marketing AI in this first journal entry, I will stop here for now as I want these to be easily digestible. My next entry will build upon the notion of ethical AI, discussing mitigating bias to reinforce diversity and inclusion. I hope you’ll join in on the journey and learn along with me! 

Part 2: Marketer and AI Translator Aligned

I was recently asked to put together a quick video for the Women in IT Conference, a professional and workforce development conference being held at the University of Arkansas, that talks about my role as an AI Translator. That gave me the chance to reflect on my journey over the last couple of years and I realized just how aligned the role of marketer and AI Translator are.

According to the AMA, marketing is defined as: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

As an AI consulting firm, we so often start engagements with clients by hearing this sentence, “we have data, we just don’t know how to get started.” The role of a good AI Translator is two-fold (at least IMHO): to draw out of the client a valuable use case that AI can solve and to present the solution in a way that is accessible to stakeholders across the organization. 

So, going back to the role of the marketer, our jobs are all about creating a message that resonates with our target audience. We have to present our product, service or solution in a way that speaks across that audience, knowing the variables within it. We have to know our client’s needs better than they do to give them the solution they want and need. Both roles are about communicating, in a meaningful and approachable way. Are you starting to see the parallels? 

You, as a marketer, can be a driving force in the success of your AI pilot. The AI translator can articulate the value in a way that everyone can understand and make sure that that much-needed buy-in is in place before starting down the path of solutioning. 

If you are looking for a place to start, here are a few recommendations:

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