To have avoided ChatGPT, you'd have to be using dial-up. Not since the iPhone was first released have I seen a technology so rapidly catch our collective attention.
In the months since ChatGPT has been released, breathless headlines and think pieces have blossomed like a field of daffodils in an early spring:
ChatGPT, death of the college essay? ChatGPT, coming for your career? ChatGPT, should it get the right to vote?
At my company, we aren't ones to shy away from new tech; we love being on the edge of breaking trends. So, we offered ChatGPT an "internship" in marketing to see how it could help augment our business.
Here are our findings.
1. DON'T use it to write your entire essay, start to finish
Spoiler: I didn't use ChatGPT to write this. But I did send ChatGPT a few essay queries to see how valuable its responses would be.
I asked for a 600-word essay on how to persuade consumers to upgrade to a faster, newer PC. For good measure, I asked it to write "in the tone of a reassuring, calm salesperson."
I received a promptly written, competent 600-word essay. It covered some convincing points, such as how upgrading improves performance and increases security. It got some things wrong, such as how a new computer would increase the resale value of your old computer. There was also a lot of repetition baked into the writing—it even included two conclusions.
That was to be expected; it's a new technology still finding its footing. However, it stressed to me the importance of double-checking the copy that ChatGPT provides.
What did ChatGPT provide me with? Information. It wrote out paragraphs of information along with summaries.
However, effective thought leadership provides more than information. It provides the reader with introspection and personal experiences—true stories of success, failure, and ingenuity under pressure. AI can't create that.
Effectively using ChatGPT for thought leadership would require a writer to analyze the information that ChatGPT returns, then synthesize a coherent argument that combines that information along with experience-driven perspective.
Ultimately, ChatGPT functions as a resource; it's not a one-stop shop.
DO use it to ideate and research
Because ChatGPT returns ample information on-demand, you can use that information as a springboard—digging into the interesting topics it provides as well as augmenting the information with personal anecdotes and experiences.
Again, ChatGPT provides information, but it does not apply the information to real-world examples. In our case, we have a wealth of customer experiences and stories that we rely on when developing case studies, blog posts, and marketing personas. ChatGPT cannot replicate those interactions; it is up to us to apply the right stories to the ideas that ChatGPT presents.
DON'T use it for sensitive topics
One thing I've learned in marketing: Perception is everything.
Recently, Vanderbilt University sent an AI-generated email to its student body about a very sensitive topic: a school shooting. The backlash was extraordinary. Why? Because of the perception the AI-written letter gave off.
In a moment of crisis, we want human connection. The letter was supposed to show the recipients that the university cared about their suffering. However, by delegating the task to an AI engine, the perception became that the university didn't care enough to write the letter themselves.
Again: that letter provided information, but not introspection. There was no human connection.
In moments when your goal is to make a human connection through writing, it's more important you write it yourself than you write it flawlessly. Embrace your flawed human nature.
DO use it to challenge yourself
We tried a simple marketing challenge: Write a LinkedIn post asking for people to vote for us to speak at an event. Our copywriter took the first pass, then fed the instructions to ChatGPT: "Write a LinkedIn post asking the audience to vote for us as speakers. Keep the tone energetic."
We compared the two posts. The first thing that stood out was how engaging the opening of the AI-post was: We need your help.
It was such a simple, punchy opening. Our copywriter's was more conversational, but ChatGPT got to the point faster. Ultimately, we combined the AI-written opening with the body text from our copywriter.
That is an area where we have found success using ChatGPT: generating engaging openings and subject lines. We borrow from those, and we use them to inspire us to write even more exciting copy.
It's both a tool for information gathering and an idea generator from which we can learn and be inspired. To quote my copywriter, "The robots aren't gonna out-write me today."
* * *
I said I didn't use ChatGPT to write this essay. That's true. However, once I finished it, I fed it to ChatGPT and asked it for a summary that would get you (the audience) to read our full essay.
Here's what I got back:
At Sana Commerce, we decided to put ChatGPT to the test and see how it could benefit our marketing efforts. Our findings might surprise you.
While ChatGPT isn't quite ready to write thought leadership pieces, we found it incredibly useful for ideation and research. It helped us uncover new trends and generate engaging openings and subject lines. However, we also discovered that relying on ChatGPT for sensitive topics could hurt our brand and ultimately lead to a lack of human connection with our audience.
Curious to know more about our experience with ChatGPT? Read our latest essay to learn how this cutting-edge technology can benefit your marketing team.
Not bad, right? It hits the key findings and leaves you wanting more.
ChatGPT doesn't create; it collates. It reaches across the Internet and drags disparate content into a (semi-)coherent whole.
So play to its strengths: Ask it to summarize, to list, to ideate, to generate.
But don't ask it to connect. That's your job. That's what you do best as a human.
More Resources on ChatGPT and AI for Marketing
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