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By Dick Maggiore and Mark Vandegrift

Leveraging AI in Marketing-PositionistView

How are positionists leveraging AI in marketing?

AI is no longer a buzzword. It’s reality. Though the technology has existed for decades, it’s finally reached its peak momentum in terms of our awareness. Now, people everywhere are talking about leveraging AI in industries like marketing and incorporating it into daily conversation without fear — well, maybe not entirely.

As AI continues to dominate our headspace and industries, two clear factions have emerged between those who believe it is the next efficiency revolution and those who see it as the harbinger of copycat campaigns, dwindling original creative, and imminent job replacement.

Rather than stake a claim in either camp, we believe it’s our duty to set our clients apart from the competition, and that goal requires innovation. Throughout our five decades of experience, we’ve always taken a proactive approach to the latest technology and trends to help clients find success — and we’re doing it again. Here’s how Innis Maggiore’s associates are leveraging AI in marketing.

Shortcuts in Web Development

Many probably assume AI is making its largest strides in web development. Though there are plenty of articles on its code automation capabilities, it might not be quite so revolutionary yet.

“The software we use to write code already includes AI autocomplete features,” said Jeremy Smith, Innis Maggiore web director. “However, right now, it’s really only a little smarter than your typical email autocompletes, but not much more.”

Primarily, the Innis Maggiore web department is leveraging AI in marketing by helping clients incorporate it on their websites through features like chatbots. Scroll through almost any website, and you’ll likely find yourself greeted by these virtual assistants. By incorporating this dynamic customer service function, our web developers are positioning clients as forward-thinking.

Media Pulls Back the Digital Curtain

The media department, on the other hand, has a very different relationship with AI. Digital specialists have actually been leveraging AI in marketing for over a decade. What started as social media algorithms, though, has now evolved into an integral part of every digital marketer’s toolbox.

Programs like Hootsuite and The Trade Desk, as well as social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, now use AI to provide thorough campaign forecasts, offer detailed targeting, and advise digital marketers on optimal publishing days and times for the best audience reach. It’s estimated that about 75% of digital marketing operates with AI, and some programs are leveraging it to complete entire digital marketing campaigns in minutes. Still, digital marketers should tread lightly.

“AI has fed a growing perception in digital marketing that anyone can build a campaign in just a few clicks, but it’s really not quite that simple,” explained Alyssa Laubacher, Innis Maggiore media and digital marketing manager.

Laubacher elaborated on how Innis Maggiore is leveraging AI in its media marketing.

“AI assists us with suggestions and optimizations, but ultimately, we control our campaigns and the final decisions,” she said. “We use our expertise and understanding of client needs before ever approaching AI because we want our strategy to be the foundation.”

She also shared how the media department is building efficiency through general content ideation and real-time campaign optimizations. It’s even played a role in collecting first-party data as the remainder of third-party cookies crumble.

Helping Creative Fill in the Gaps

Despite the concern for AI-generated images, the creative team remains focused on leveraging it in our marketing. Rather than complete content creation though, our creatives utilize AI as an editing tool to capture the same efficiency and economic benefits while still delivering original content.

“We incorporate AI using applications like Adobe Photoshop,” said Cheryl Henderson, Innis Maggiore creative director. “Powerful tools such as generative fill enable us to make background changes and perform simple retouching tasks in a matter of seconds.”

Though these tools are highly sophisticated and have benefited the department and clients alike, they aren’t entirely picture perfect. Henderson explained some of AI’s shortcomings.

“There are cases where it definitely misses the mark. For instance, it loves adding extra arms to people for some reason,” she added. “So, while it’s really minimized a lot of time-consuming tasks, you still have to correct its hilarious results.”

Like the web and media departments, the creative department is leveraging AI in marketing strategies with innovation in mind. Still, it doesn’t seem AI will replace the human creations quite yet.

Measuring Coverage in Public Relations

Public relations emphasizes building and maintaining relationships between businesses and their audiences and managing human perceptions through areas like community relations, employee relations, and crisis communications. So, how are our public relations professionals integrating AI?

“Public relations is very human centric. You’ll never be able to take the relations out of the public relations, but we are leveraging AI in our marketing efforts,” said Jim Cyphert, Innis Maggiore director of public relations. “We use AI to heighten our ability to collect and analyze coverage.”

These AI-powered platforms capture relevant media attention for clients. Its thorough abilities deliver results ranging from national newspapers to local radio broadcasts and niche trade publications — metrics like audience reach, publicity value, and sentiment available at your fingertips.

“With more data efficiency, we have more time to focus on the human aspect of our job,” he added. “While PR agencies are leveraging AI in marketing for things like content creation, there’s something to be said for the human ability to connect with others.”

The Positionist’s Perspective

Along with our different departments, it’s also important to see how America’s #1 Positioning Ad Agency is leveraging AI in marketing. We turned to one of our resident positioning pros, Innis Maggiore president and Brand Shorthand co-host, Mark Vandegrift.

“AI really got its start decades ago. From the earliest Microsoft Word programs, it was there trying to interpret your style and word choice,” said Vandegrift. “Today, it operates much faster, but the results aren’t necessarily getting better.”

Despite its power to amaze, the reality of leveraging AI in marketing is often criticized for its tendency to regurgitate — which poses a problem for positionists.

“Positioning is all about differentiating from the competition, and that requires original ideas and deep intuitive insight to nail down the right approach,” he explained. "But it's hard to stand out when you’re heavily relying on a tool that uses existing content and only views things through an objective lens.”

Leveraging AI as our Next Marketing Tool

Even though leveraging AI in marketing appears opposite to our position, it doesn’t mean we won’t use it where it’s beneficial. Just as we’re committed to the principles of positioning, we’re also committed to our clients.

“It’s important we remember that, despite the spectrum of conversation surrounding it, the concept of leveraging AI in marketing is really best understood as a tool,” said Scott Edwards, Innis Maggiore executive creative director. “It makes our efforts easier, but it can’t make those creative, yet illogical, connections like the human mind.”

The agency has developed plenty of award-winning campaigns AI would deem “illogical.” From billboards showing a dog exclaiming “Accidents are RUFF,” to museum exhibits walking the streets of town, to communication cables able to withstand the heat of a dragon, there’s no boundaries to what our minds may dream next.

To demonstrate the delicate balance between a tool and a creative replacement, we invited AI to share its thoughts about how marketing agencies can use this new technology. You can read our special guest’s approach to this PositionistView® topic here and view its generated image here.

Leveraging AI in marketing may not replace our ability to make creative connections, but it is helping make that vital difference for our clients by saving time and resources. Contact us today to see how a campaign powered by Innis Maggiore (and AI) can position you for success.