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AI Insights From INBOUND 2023

The takeaways and impact from INBOUND 2023 have stuck with me. The moment I stepped into the Boston Convention Center, I immediately knew I was in for an incredible experience. For those who attended the event in 2022, I have to believe that you all agree with me. It was an outstanding elevation from a conference that frankly missed the mark just a year prior. The main floor was filled with color, energy, and enthusiasm. The sessions were accessible and inspiring. The keynotes were thought-provoking–and the app worked. I know this may be a strange way to introduce this blog article but I have to give kudos to the INBOUND team as they bounced back in a big way.

In addition to the overall experience, the unofficial theme of this year’s INBOUND conference was AI (or artificial intelligence if you’re new here). The HubSpot leadership team all discussed AI during their HubSpot Spotlight keynote. The HubSpot Product Team was out on the main floor demonstrating what the new generative AI tools looked like within the software (in BETA). And, many of the speakers had AI in the title of their sessions, although it seemed few speakers actually gave insightful and actionable advice on AI. Either way, the conference was full of opinions on AI and I wanted to share a few insights that I found to be most impactful.

AI Will Drive Up the Price of Human-Driven Content

A session called “Future-Proofing Your Business: Addressing AI-Related Risks & Opportunities” had some very valuable insights from Meghan Keaney Anderson of Jasper. She believes that AI-generated content will drive up the price of human-driven content and human perspective. In other words, as more companies adopt AI tools to produce content, people will seek human perspectives.

She urged those in attendance to write meaningful and thoughtful content.

“Get off the content treadmill and shift into story hunters, interviewers, etc," she urged the audience. "Instead of writing ‘How to Cook Pasta,’ find a world-class chef who can share his or her proven process for cooking pasta.”

The underlying message of Ms. Anderson’s message was that AI can help your team write FAQ-style blog posts. Free your employees up to spend time finding unique stories, interviewing subject matter experts, and producing videos.

Don’t Rely on AI to Do Your Work, Rely on AI to Support Your Work

Another session I attended was called “Marketing Revolution: How to Win When Everyone Is Using AI” with Neil Patel of NP Digital.

Although Neil’s session focused on strategies related to mergers and acquisitions, which appealed to many in the audience, his perspective on AI was also helpful.

Patel, a brilliant businessman and SEO sage, recommends people use AI as an assistant and not rely on it to do their work. Patel believes people should rely on AI to support their work.

Like Meghan Keaney Anderson’s belief, Patel seems to believe that AI can help create efficiencies in your content marketing initiatives, but it’s still not to the point where you can fully rely on it. And, frankly, you should probably never fully rely on it even as it evolves.

On a product development note related to AI and content creation, HubSpot announced the Campaign Assistant, which is now in public BETA and allows users to use AI to create landing pages, emails, and ad copy. The company also had demonstrations of several other AI tools that will help people write full web pages and blog posts. While the technology is tantalizing and exciting, Patel and many other experts at INBOUND urged the audience to avoid the trap of letting AI do their work. Instead, they recommend using AI for inspiration for copy editing, and other ways to support the work of marketers.

Many Companies Are Going to Disengage from Real Conversations. Do the Opposite.

Marcus Sheridan, one of the longtime speaker mainstays at INBOUND led a session called, “Keys to World Class Content and Winning Trust in the AI Era”.

Marcus Sheridan is a dynamic and inspiring speaker who puts a great deal of emphasis on trust and provides many tips on how to build trust through content and interaction. This particular session was no different. Marcus leaned into his principles for building trust, with additional insight into the current state of the marketing world as it continues to be seduced by AI.

Marcus said “Many companies are going to disengage from real conversations, answers, and overall authenticity as they lean more into AI. Do the opposite!”

A simple, yet meaningful statement. As competitors begin to rely on AI to create more content while simultaneously cutting costs, marketers have the opportunity to build more trust through human interaction.

To illustrate this point, Sheridan shared a short anecdote. He said, “People always say, ‘Marcus, that can’t possibly be the real you answering all of those questions you get on LinkedIn. You must have an assistant or something doing that for you.’ Absolutely that’s me! I reply to each message because it matters.”

With 46,000 followers and well over 500 connections on LinkedIn, Sheridan clearly understands the importance of human interaction.

Where do we go from here?

Without question, artificial intelligence will continue to expand in its valuable use cases. It will have a tremendous impact on how all jobs are performed in the 21st century. There will continue to be debate as to the use and abuse of AI, and we will all find benefits and frustrations with this rapidly emerging technology.

If there is one message that was communicated at INBOUND 2023 it’s this: in a world full of AI-generated content, people will be begging your company for human perspective and stories. Human stories will continue to thrive and resonate with audiences. No matter how advanced AI gets over the coming years, it will never know real human perspectives.

AI can certainly help you write a blog post on the “Benefits of Memory Care.” However, AI will NEVER know how Garry coped with the guilt he felt after moving his wife of 30 years into a community to better support her dementia. Those are the stories that people are seeking and the stories people will remember, especially when they are experienced through video.

As you move forward with your marketing technology, it makes sense to continue to understand and maximize the benefits of artificial intelligence. Uncover ways it can create efficiencies for you and your business, and use the time gained to find human stories, interview people with unique experiences, and interact with your prospects and customers. Will machines put us all out of jobs someday? Who knows? For now, remember to be human when interacting with other humans who are craving real connections. 

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