2023 will be the year AI joins the Marketing team. From ChatGPT to hundreds of Artificial Intelligence (AI) startups, new companies and uses for AI are everywhere, especially in Marketing.

CMOs need to take an active approach to integrating AI into their workflows to keep up with the competition and deliver results in an uncertain economic environment. The secret to doing so requires getting to know the three types of people on your team:

But first, what is AI for marketing?

AI is a branch of computer science focused on software that can easily learn new information, make conclusions about what it has learned, and build on that knowledge over time. Marketing mainly, though not exclusively, works with Generative AI tools, which are programs that can generate new content that previously did not exist.

Your team may already know a bit about AI-infused Marketing, or this may be entirely new for them. The good news is that Generative AI tools are often designed for the non-technical user, so regardless of the seemingly complex technology, Marketers can easily benefit from using AI. However, CMOs who ignore AI risk the appearance of poor job performance. 91% of C-suite executives expect the Marketing team to start using AI to increase efficiency and beat the competition.

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How to get started with AI in Marketing

The first thing CMOs need to do to get the most out of AI is to get the most out of the humans already on the team. Think of AI tools like getting a new intern. They can help but they need to work well with and learn from, the experienced employees you already have. According to McKinsey, 70% of all new change initiatives fail, mainly because of “employee resistance and lack of management support.” You can prevent failure in your AI efforts by starting with a deep understanding of your current team and their thoughts on AI.

Venn diagram showing how AI intersects with Enthusiasts, Skeptics, and Pragmatists.

AI enthusiasts

There are already people on your team using AI for Marketing, even if you don't know it. These self-starters gravitate toward new technologies and are blown away by the capabilities Generative AI can deliver. They may also play with these tools for their personal uses. Making the Enthusiasts your "AI champions" can provide quick wins for your AI adoption program and keep these early adopters engaged.

Enthusiasts have a downside, however. While they love to dive in and play with new tools, they can get your Marketing organization in trouble with the legal and IT departments. Putting confidential information into AI tools, signing up for unauthorized software, and building widgets with unproven code will hurt your partnership with your CTO. The General Counsel is going to be unhappy if your team uses content made by AI tools that violate ethical or copyright laws, which are still very much in development.

How to tap the energy of your Enthusiasts while protecting the company? Ask them to lead a task force for AI integration in partnership with peers in Legal and Tech. Let them know that as they are already experienced with the tools, they can be the best advocates for the benefits of AI and work with other departments to establish guardrails that allow the Marketing team to play with new tools and keep the company safe.

AI skeptics

There are two polar opposite types of skeptics—first, the overly confident. Writers, designers, and even general marketers may feel AI will not be helpful in your organization because it can never do what they do. They believe the tools will generate boring, generic content that wastes time. They may be right, but they are still wrong.

AI output as of 2023 is quite clever, but just like the work of an intern, not quite ready for prime-time. These confident skeptics believe AI will never deliver work as good as theirs and dismiss the technology at their own expense. However, they have the wrong perspective.

It's not about humans versus AI; it's humans powering AI. For example, AI can brainstorm more new product names in 30 seconds than the best copywriters on your team can do in 30 minutes. Now your team has a ready-made list of content to start as a jumping-off point for their brainstorming session. Ultimately, the people on your team know your customers best and can make content that makes an impact. Teach the overly-confident to think of AI not as a competitor but as a fancy new toy they can infuse with their genius. Challenge them to find new tools that the enthusiasts can then get vetted with Marketing and Legal.

At the other end of the spectrum are the anxious members of your team. These people fear AI will take over their jobs. They may believe they do not deliver enough value compared to software. Their concerns may be due to a lack of confidence in their abilities or that they know they aren't consistently doing their best work.

They may be reluctant to use AI tools because it will expose their weakness. The best way to help them get comfortable is to show them that AI will help them shine. By eliminating the simple but time-consuming tasks, these Skeptics can uplevel their work to make a more significant impact. Challenge this type of Skeptic to dig deep into their strengths and identify what they deliver that makes them special. Then ask them to think about how much more valuable they will be to the organization when they can focus their attention on their genuinely unique talents.

AI pragmatists

Thank goodness for the pragmatists. They see AI as a new resource; like you, they understand that new resources are good. This group can help you roll out AI in your Marketing efforts in unique ways.

First, pragmatists can help figure out where AI enhancement might help. Task the Pragmatists with identifying mundane or time-consuming tasks in your department. Aggregating marketing results in spreadsheets taking too long? Struggling to personalize messaging? AI can help with these issues and more. If you charge the pragmatists with being problem detectives, you'll have a substantial list of topics where adding AI tools can deliver a quick win for your team.

Pragmatists can also help by checking the quality of AI outputs. With neither fear of it being too good nor not good enough, Pragmatists can be the neutral evaluators of how AI tools compare to what you are currently doing. By centralizing all Pragmatists' learnings, you will quickly understand which AI experiments are driving results and which are not.

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The first step in implementing AI doesn't have anything to do with AI at all. Put the people on your team first, and introducing new AI technology will take care of itself. The best strategy for making that happen is knowing who your Enthusiasts, Skeptics, and Pragmatists are on the team. When directed toward the functions that capitalize on their unique perspectives, you have a team assembled and prepared to welcome AI to your Marketing organization.

AI is transforming our approach to marketing. Stay ahead of the curve with the latest insights and advice being shared on the CMO Alliance Community Slack channel.