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Martechopia 2024 – Why AI is a great tool, but it’s no replacement for human originality  

MOI went to Martechopia, an AI-focused event hosted by B2B Marketing which explored the trends and technologies in the digital marketing world. Taking place in London, with lots of interesting content moving from the creative to the practical, there was an overarching theme: AI makes a great tool to help support your projects but just don’t expect it to provide that marketing ‘spark’. We’re not living in The Matrix just yet – and the tech is very much a tool we use rather than a replacement for our existence entirely.  

Not quite real 

Speaking of movies, Tom Hanks’ almost lifelike avatar in 2004’s The Polar Express got a mention in what was in our opinion one of the most entertaining talks of the day – given by Jason Miller from Tyk. 

Jason explained that the animation didn’t quite work because they tried to make the characters in it look realistic when the technology was not quite there. So the characters looked creepy, instead. This was a great example of how people feel uneasy about something that looks almost real but just not quite, Jason said. His suggestion? If you are making AI characters, make them cartoony or robot-like. Just own the fact that they are AI. Be authentic and don’t try to trick anyone. 

AI has landed 

AI-powered martech solutions are becoming more prevalent, and this featured in many of the day’s talks. Johan Thorbjornsson from McKinsey and Company shared what he thought were the six areas where Sales and Marketing would be impacted by Generative AI – Market insights, Demand generation, Account management, Customer ops and Coaching. One thing he repeated was that it’s about both the people and the content being great first off – Gen AI is just a way to support, not the other way round. This idea came up in a lot of the presentations of the day.  

Joe Leverson of Gamma Communications told how he started to put chat bots on his landing page instead of forms, and the results were very good. He shared how to use Gen AI on its own to make the conversation more natural – or to run it as copilot with a human operative having those real conversations, with the operative fed notes by Gen AI using data from past conversations. Again, it’s often about a talented human working with AI, not reliance on AI alone. 

Stefano Iacono from 6sense agreed, explaining that AI is a good starting point for projects, but it’s not going to give you that personality that people themselves bring.  

Alex Sladen from PwC gave an interesting talk about the metaverse. He shared about an in-person experience they put on at the Cannes film festival and how they then recreated it virtually for those who couldn’t make the event.

Social media content tips 

A session on social media and B2B was all about how to generate leads and close deals on the platform. Jade Tambini from the B2B Breakthrough Academy is a Tik Toker and Marketing Coach and Zsofia Raffa from Kodak is an EMEA Digital Marketing manager. The main points were: Be authentic, don’t feel so constrained by the corporate brand – dare to be yourself, in other words.  

There was a great tip on how to do video interviews or podcasts – make sure you have a 15-minute warm up chat with your guest before you film. Then use a tool to split it into 30-seconds chunks with something like Descript for shorts on Youtube etc. Also, the duo advised to start Linkedin conversations with people who have subscribed to your newsletter. And strike up conversations on your feed with people and groups. In other words don’t be shy, just do it.  

AI practical  

But it was Ben Lee from Bidwells, a property management company who was “by far and away the most mind-blowing speaker of the day,” according to one of our attendees. His talk was very practical – a nine-step method on how to use AI to add value to your workflow. These steps included Developing AI models – meaning training your AI to learn to automate tasks. Test and validate – to make sure the model is accurate. And building a skilled team – assembling an expert team around you.  

Jason Miller from Tyk, in addition to his “not quite real” AI warnings, also shared his useful AI marketing tips. He told us to focus on brand marketing for the 95% not ready to buy. And then use Gen AI for the other 5%. He said the future of marketing is all about brand, building communities and doing events. This is how you stand out in a busy online world.  

In summary, AI’s a great research tool to start things off – but we’ll continue to need a layer of the best critical thinking on top of it. The human bit, in other words. A theme of the whole day: don’t forget about the humans.

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