I’ve been a marketing consultant, in some capacity, for almost 20 years. (OMG when did I get this old? 👴🏼)
I created my first successful website in 1999 and, since then, entrepreneurs and businesses have worked with me to help them launch or grow their businesses online.
A good marketing consultant can mean the difference between an ROI positive campaign and a money loser.
A great marketing consultant can mean the difference between triple-digit growth and bankruptcy.
Say hello to AI powered marketing consultants
In the last few years, we’ve seen a major increase in the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). A large part of that has to do with the ever-increasing funding going to artificial intelligence startups, as seen in the graph below:
The other part has to do with technological advancements which have enabled startups and tech giants to create AI capable of creating a real return on investment for business owners.
Marketing AI is no longer just a buzzword. It’s here, and capable of doing more than you think.
As we come to the end of 2017, we’re already witnessing some powerful abilities from AI. It’s being used for predictive analytics, and trend analysis, but honestly, that’s old news.
Now, we’re witnessing the next stage in the functional uses of artificial intelligence. Machine learning, the ability for a computer to learn from data vs being pre-programmed to interpret data, is making AI that is powerful enough to provide full, comprehensive marketing strategies.
Just take a look at IBM’s Watson for Marketing or my own Project MAIA, both of which are using AI to analyze businesses and their competitors, and respond with smart, data-driven strategies for digital marketing channels. So with AI able to create full-fledged strategies, optimized for success, it begs the question:
Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for marketing consultants?
Well, it’s complicated. To fully understand the answer, let’s dive into:
- What marketing AI can do now
- What consultants bring to the table, and
- Who can benefit from AI today
How do AI consultants work, and what do they do?
To understand if AI consultants will replace marketing consultants, we first need to look at what exactly they’re doing. Since I’m the founder of Project MAIA, it’s easiest to talk about what our system does.
Project MAIA works by analyzing social media data and analytics for your business, industry, and competition. Then, after determining what works, and what doesn’t, MAIA provides you with a comprehensive social marketing strategy. This includes optimal posting times, types of content, and more.
It also features a messenger bot to provide you with reminders and content suggestions to guide you through each step.
This essentially answers the questions: Where should I post? When should I post? How often should I post? And, what type of content should I post?
What can a consultant do that AI can’t?
Among many things, one important skill that consultants bring (which AI can’t — yet) is helping you develop overarching messaging that conveys the unique value proposition for your brand. AI simply isn’t ready to write or help you write your content.
It can tell you to use a trending hashtag, inform you of a current event you should post about, and more, but it can’t yet provide natural wording or editing for your social posts.
Also, while AI is good at iterating and expanding reach by testing similar or related variations to your campaigns, it is not as strong when it comes to pivoting into new niches or expanding into completely new audiences.
Who are AI consultants right for?
Like we mentioned previously, marketing AI can’t help you with your messaging and branding. If your messaging and value proposition is completely off the mark and potential customers don’t have a good reason to buy your product — all the data crunching and recommendations probably still won’t drive significant sales.
However, if you have a product or service that customers already love and you just need to get the word out — AI can be hugely beneficial.
Ultimately, no one loves the repetitive task of analyzing and re-analyzing data on a continual basis. Luckily, this is what AI like Project MAIA does best.
For larger companies, AI will fit in as a “member” of the team. Analyzing data and helping to uncover insights the team would otherwise miss.
In SMBs or startups, the AI can provide the owner or marketing team with a continually optimized marketing strategy and take the repetitive analysis off their plate. All they’d need to do is worry about execution, cutting down significantly on the time spent on marketing tasks.
So will AI replace marketing consultants?
AI is exciting and is being used to make marketing easier and more effective, but instead of making consultants obsolete, it will make them better.
Smart consultants will use AI’s data processing abilities to augment their own intuition and insights and create even better marketing strategies for their clients. Data gathering and analysis is the grunt work of consulting — replacing this task will give consultants more time to work on big-picture projects and deliver higher ROI.
Do you plan to test out AI marketing consultants in 2018? Let me know in the comments below!