Shiny New Things

By Simon Derungs, 9 July 2024 | 3 mins read

Quite a while back I was talking to a marketing press editor (Ben Davis at Econsultancy) about blockchain. I was interested in how this interesting, somewhat impenetrable technology might impact marketers. “Ah yes”, said Ben, “Blockchain – a solution in search of a problem”.

I was reminded of this more recently as I was researching attendees at a forthcoming marketing event. In anticipation of meeting with a range of agencies, attendees were asked to summarise “forthcoming strategic issues/projects that you wish to discuss”. Guess what – at least half listed AI right up there.

Here’s some typical responses:

  • “Implementation of AI in the marketing department”
  • “Adoption for AI, its IP risks and how to integrate into an in-house marketing function”
  • “Marketing in the fast moving world of AI”
  • “Leveraging AI within the marketing lifecycle”
  • “Utilising AI tools to make marketing more effective and efficient”

And so on.

They’ve heard of the answer, now what’s the question?

Clearly, many are seeking to understand the marketing problems that AI can solve.

Of course, there’s no question that some of these technologies are transformative, in bad ways and good. Identify the right questions and the new technology can make a huge difference. I recently spoke with the CMO of a major chain of estate agents who raved about the amazing impact that AI has had on his business. Imagine the thousands of property descriptions that can now be written with a few clicks, allowing him to reallocate staff to actually selling properties and growing business.

But deep down, I think the problem is that we all just love new stuff. We love it so much that we overcompensate and go to extremes.

It’s very much like the Blockchain example, and is typical in our industry. As new technologies emerge, marketers (and especially agencies) get over-excited about what these might mean to their business and job.

Remember when it was all about digital? Analogue was dead. TV was dead. Certainly newspapers. Or it was all about mobile. Or VR. Or digital transformation. Or sustainability. Now it’s AI.

What’s the reality?

The reality is that modern marketers require a multitude of skills and tools if they’re to shift the dial. Just as in the energy sector, where there’s a realisation that only by embracing all technologies, old and new, will we generate enough energy to sustain growing populations and increasing demand.

So, back to the marketing event. Looking at the 150+ marketers attending, what was obvious was that many weren’t interested in discussing the things that really matter – accelerating business growth, generating meaningful leads, selling more, developing distinctive brands, building stronger internal culture and engagement.

Surely it’s questions like this that should be our focus? Marketing questions that can truly lead to commercial success. And yes, the answer may be AI, and a range of technologies that can enhance marketing and commercial performance.

I’m sure all those smart marketers know this, but I guess it’s easy to be blinded by those shiny new things. Keen on focusing back on the basics? If, like me, you’re interested in those bigger business challenges or the things that are keeping you up at night (even if it is AI!), we’d love to have a chat – get in touch.