Many businesses operate like the Wild West for content requests, brainstorming, and creation. They have no process for researching, imagining and creating. Any well-regulated workflow process only comes into play when producing digital assets.
Yet business leaders want marketing and content teams to use generative AI to improve this creative process – yes, a process that doesn’t exist. The main problem is not “explaining how to make this process more efficient”. It is “Explain the benefit of using AI to solve a problem that is not understood.” »
Spoiler alert: better prompts are not the answer.
Know what’s really happening
About three months ago, I consulted with a large, fast-growing media and technology company looking to integrate generative AI into their content marketing processes (e.g. thought leadership).
I did an audit of “recurring processes” – how things are actually done. At this client, as at many companies, no documented process existed for the content creation lifecycle. Yet somehow they researched, created, and edited the content sent to the design team to produce what everyone wanted: the digital assets for different channels.
Mapping these recurring processes documents the workflow for the content lifecycle. From there, the improvements fall into two categories. The first involves the company applying more standardized approaches to make content creation more efficient, effective, or measurable.
The second improvement step – specific to generative AI – consists of a gap analysis aimed at identifying areas where existing AI toolsets could be applied to make team members more effective, expand their capabilities or change the nature of content collaboration.
Now the company has options on what, where and when a new generative AI tool might be worth piloting. Should he maximize the team’s strengths or minimize its weaknesses?
Will AI strengthen your marketing and content or cover your weaknesses?
The long-prevailing theory in business is that teams do best by building on their strengths rather than fixing their weaknesses. Tom Rath and Barry Conchie explore this idea in Strengths-based leadership based on Gallup’s 30-year research project.
To be clear, the theory does not say that you should ignore weaknesses. This suggests you invest in your talents and minimize the effect of your flaws.
But here’s the challenge. Generative AI in content and marketing is so new, disruptive and chaotic that few people and even fewer marketing teams can truly see it as a differentiating asset.
I find that clients with this strength have a well-understood set of creative content management processes. Their teams are better equipped to identify gaps where new generative AI technologies could play an important role.
But even then, the answers are not clear. Should you use AI to double down on your strengths with advanced training to increase your research capabilities? Or should you address your weaknesses with new technology and training and supplement writing so the content team can produce twice as much content? Should you cut the team in half or add new responsibilities to the existing team?
Spoiler alert: there are no easy answers. You map out a road map as best you can.
Weaknesses are sometimes over-indexed strengths
Some experts say that focusing only on strengths has its challenges. A few years ago, the Harvard Business Review presented a podcast and an article suggesting that “so many weaknesses are overdeveloped strengths.”
For example, amplifying the strengths of a politically savvy, shake-up team leader can lead to a manipulative boss. Or, relying too much on the incredible creativity of your design team can lead to a dynamic in which they are seen as idiosyncratic or disconnected from business realities.
You’ve seen this phenomenon manifest over the last 20 years with most new technologies, including generative AI. For example, suppose you exaggerate the perceived strength of the team’s writing. In this case, you tend to be less willing to use generative AI to write more derivative content, such as summaries, summaries, or other simple content.
Every answer is wrong, but some are useful
Statistician George Box once said: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” I remember this quote when integrating new disruptive technologies, such as generative AI, into the creative workflow. You simply don’t know enough about how things will change with technology to be 100% sure of any outcome.
However, if you are aware of your and your team’s strengths and weaknesses, you can decide where to focus. If you can set a standard for what is actually happening now – how work gets done – it becomes easier (not easy) to make decisions about using generative AI to maximize your strengths or minimize your weaknesses.
Let me give another example. We worked with a client earlier this year who has been growing and shaping their content team for a few years. They have a keen awareness of the team’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of their clear, documented and understood content creation processes. They know when they are breaking the rules. Most importantly, the team leader created transparency and awareness of their ongoing balance throughout the company. She frequently and clearly communicates her team’s priorities to other siled areas of the company.
At this company, the content team is considered strong and focused on its strengths in thought leadership, creativity, and high-quality design capabilities. As they considered integrating generative AI into their process, they didn’t have to battle internal opinions or make a business case for whether they should replace content writers with AI for automated sales emails, landing page copies, or even blog posts.
Instead, this team could focus on integrating AI to minimize the weaknesses already identified. They integrated generative AI into their editorial strategy as a research assistant to determine which topics aren’t covered but should be, which topics are too saturated, and which popular topics would benefit from fresh angles. In doing so, they refined their content and got even better.
The usefulness of any strengths-based model – or when conducting a skills audit – for a disruptive new way of performance lies in helping you make informed decisions to constantly align your team with the needs of the company.
Over time, if you can maintain this self-awareness, your weaknesses (or those of your team) can become your greatest strength – and you’ll end up being more right than wrong.
And, as with any new feature, that’s the best we can hope for.
It’s your story. Say it well.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute