When Dante Alighieri completed The Divine Comedy in 1321, I doubt he dreamed it would someday inspire dread in something uniquely modern as 21st century B2B marketing.

And yet here we are, 700 years later, teetering on the precipice of a demand generation inferno, and the analogy is all too apt.

In "Personalization, Demand Generation, and AI: Conversion Trifecta or Dante's Nine Levels of Hell?" Kenda Macdonald, founder of Automation Ninjas and author of the bestselling Hack the Buyer Brain, explains the marketing crimes we often unwittingly commit—and how AI can help us escape the fiery depths.

Take circle one, Limbo. Here, your sin is a lack of direction and strategy.

"When you break that down, it looks like one-and-done campaigns, where we are just creating a campaign and chucking it out there. It's not part of a wider customer Journey," Kenda says.

"We also have things like no clear target audience. You're marketing to everybody, and as a result, you're effectively marketing to nobody."

You may not have a clear content strategy at this level, and you may be suffering from what Kenda calls "random acts of content": producing one-off assets without a bigger plan. Or, worse, you may be lacking performance metrics—or may not even know what KPIs to aim for, much less how you stack up toward those goals.

Regardless of why you're in demand generation Limbo, you need clear business objectives to get you out of its mess.

How does AI fit in? Tools such as predictive analytics models can help you formulate better, data-driven strategies by giving you insights into customer behavior, market conditions, and the overall competitive landscape, and helping you forecast future trends.

Specialized AI tools can also help with scenario planning and customer journey mapping. Kenda discusses that in this brief excerpt from her presentation, part of the AI for Demand Gen Marketers series:

Back to the Inferno: if you've landed at marketing Gluttony on circle three, you're guilty of over-consumption. Data hoarding. Analysis paralysis. Overreliance on automation. Doing all the things.

That all leads to a lack of optimization because, in Kenda's words, "you're making decisions based on data that probably isn't appropriate, and you're also losing sight of the bigger picture."

Sound familiar? I think we all land in Circle Three from time to time.

Here, aim for strategic focus, simplicity, and actionability. That means using AI to streamline your marketing tools and do something with all that data.

AI-based demand forecasting can identify trends in all your data, so you can determine: "Do I need this tool? Do I need this thing? And do I need to be running this campaign?"

Kenda also suggests checking out resource optimization models, which "look at marketing resources that you're using as well as your human capital," and help you avoid "overwhelming individuals with data and campaigns." (That includes your staff.)

Kenda says of AI, in general, "it's a fantastic springboard" to keep you working toward your north stars and get you out of the fiery depths. "That's where I see AI—it provides the impetus. It's the foundation from which to plan and execute."

Final thought: ChatGPT, Claude, and Gemini are great places to start, especially if you're looking for cheap, early wins for basic use cases. But with more than 10,000 martech tools on the market, many built on AI, plenty of specialty tools will take you much further. And AI features are likely now built into tools in your existing tech stack you're not using yet.

Determine your use case and do the research.

Check out Kenda's AI for Demand Gen Marketers presentation to dig in deeper, learn more about the other seven levels of marketing hell, and how AI can help.

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image of Jo Roberts

Jo Roberts is MarketingProfs' director of product development. She's responsible for product planning, management, and post-purchase user communications, and she oversees instructional design for PRO subscription and training products. Jo previously spent two decades in PR, promotions, and product marketing.

LinkedIn: Jo Roberts