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Fractional-CMOs Don’t Need to Be Scared of AI



Fractional-CMOs Don't Need to Be Scared of AI

AI will not fundamentally change your role as a Fractional CMO, despite what the masterminds and gurus are selling.

Are You Scared of AI?

This feels like January of 2020, when the pandemic was just starting to get some attention. I remember going to my gym in Fishtown, Philadelphia and talking with the owner about this “weird virus thing.” He didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. I thought there might be a lock-down until July 4. Obviously neither of us were right.

That’s where we are with AI.

There are some people freaking out about how everything is going to change.

And others who are utterly clueless.

I think academia is getting pretty worried about the implications of students writing theses and essays with a few prompts. Similar to the revolution Wikipedia brought about, but this time, much much more dramatic.

In marketing, there are the tacticians who are directly affected:

  • Content writers: If you’ve ever used a resource like WriterAccess to get blogs or articles created, you might have paid $0.1 to $0.12 a word for the best-of-the-best writer (I’m talking about ex-Jeopardy contestants!). I have to imagine that those writers are at least having AI write the first draft of their articles, then just making some minor edits and collecting their fee.
  • Copywriters: I’m seeing these folks really focus on harnessing AI. The take that I like is that copywriters will leverage AI to pull together creative ideas, cutting down the time to find The Big Idea. Tools like Jasper can help craft headlines, ad copy, email copy, and can absolutely support a copywriter. That said, I think the art of copywriting is safe from the robots, for now. There’s just so much consideration that is required in a good piece of copy that a simple Jasper prompt can’t repeatedly churn out.
  • Marketing agencies: Writing boilerplate content for websites? Crafting a more readable About Us page? For the reduction of suffering across all humankind, let’s hope agencies are leveraging AI to help with this necessary evil.

Things are going to change.

But then again, the only constant in life is that everything changes.

If you’ve been in the business game for more than a couple years, you’ve seen other revolutionary advances.

Take, for example, crypto.

We saw all-time highs for bitcoin and ethereum prices in November 2021. If you were plugged into that world, you probably heard of the Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) that were doing incredible, innovative work with smart contracts and their tokens.

Then the market saw a significant correction, wiping out over $700B in market capitalization over 6 months.

Some say that crypto is dead, but it’s clear the fundamental technology is here to stay. Development of the ethereum smart contract software Solidity began 7 years ago, and saw dramatic development over the bull run of crypto.

The high-times of token prices attracted some of the best developers in the world to work together on open source projects that moved the technology forward by leaps and bounds. That technology is slowly (and in some cases, rapidly) seeping into our day-to-day lives in the field of banking, regulatory compliance, insurance, supply chain management and more.

What I want you to get out of this comparison is that AI is right now at the “all time high” in the mainstream … and has a lot of room to grow in popularity. ChatGPT is being talked about on small-town country radio stations, in PTA meetings at high schools, at global summits of business leaders (just like bitcoin was). There’s worldwide attention on the technology… and that attention will wane at some point.

The implications of AI will seep into our day-to-day lives. We might notice it in tools like Notion with their release of Notion AI, and we may also not notice when a tool has AI baked into its core. Will anyone say “My car has AI!” in ten years? Or will they just appreciate that their car understands their requests better, and provides a more seamless experience?

The Great Search Engine AI Race is an example of noise related to AI. Yes, the way Google shows rankings may change… I’ve heard SEO folks talk about how Google might no longer show rich snippets and instead answer the query themselves with their AI engine. Maybe Bing with their partnership with OpenAI will somehow climb out of their sub-10% market share position to own, what? 15%? 20% of the market?

Does that matter? I guess. But it’s really not revolutionary for the consumer. We’ll experience a better experience, but then will quickly adapt to it.

AI is about to become ubiquitous; part of our day-to-day lives in a way that (should) make us feel as though it’s not even there. Saying something is “powered by AI” will start to feel like a high school entrepreneurial pitch event where all the students claim their project uses an “algorithm.”

So what’s a Fractional CMO to do about it?

The same thing we did when TikTok came out. Which is the same thing we did when Clubhouse was all the rage on Twitter. We do the same thing we did when Leadpages and then Clickfunnels made building funnels and sales pages easier…

We roll these new tools into our strategy for our clients and execute them at the right time.

That’s it. That’s your job.

Fractional CMOs Solve Bigger Problems. That should be your mantra as you build your Fractional CMO practice. The bigger the problem, the bigger the reward – for your client, for their customers, and for you and your bank account.

What Companies Need from Their CMO in the New Era of AI

Nervous or scattered CEOs might ask you to put all your attention on AI, and for most businesses, that is simply not a good use of your time.

Instead, there’s one word that accurately describes what companies need… and that word is leadership.

The fractional CMO, the interim CMO, and the full-time CMO all have the same basic requirement: To be the leader for their marketing department and to push the team to make the dreams of the CEO and/or the board of directors come true.

AI becomes a tool in your toolbelt. It is also a tool in your client’s competitor’s toolbelt.

A few years ago, I was working as a Fractional CMO for a private equity company and I remember sharing my concerns about the increased CPM on Facebook over a few week stretch. HIs reply was timeless:

“It affects us and our competition the same. Don’t lose sleep over it. Keep fighting.”

What simple, golden advice.

The same is true with AI.

AI content writers mixed with lifelike voice generators, overlaid on a slideshow of images produced by DALL-E seems like a scary and innovative tactic… and it might be. But it’s just a tactic.

And it’s your job to decide if it’s the right tactic or not.

It’s your job to chart the best path, no matter the tools and tactics that emerge.

Oftentimes, the number one thing a business needs is end-to-end tracking of lead source to purchase. Or simply just having a rock-solid offer. Or focusing on one advertising channel to 10x sales of their hero product. Or a salesperson who will call all the webinar attendees who stayed for the whole 60-minute webinar but didn’t purchase.

For most companies, AI is simply another tactic that seems exciting and revolutionary, but in reality, it’s a level-5 tool and the company is stuck at level 1.

Business basics like tracking, generating advertising controls, creating product ascension to maximize customer lifetime value, collecting and sharing testimonials, and delivering a world-class customer experience will last until the end of time. AI is here to stay and yes, it changes everything, but it’s not the panacea to profitability that some marketers want it to be.

Stay focused. Stay in your lane. Bring in more sales. Look for low-hanging fruit that you can use AI on. Test your favorite copywriter’s work against a rewrite by AI and see who wins.

Be open to swinging the AI hammer, but treat it like a tool.

Keep fighting.

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How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?



How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?

The very first commercial advertisement was shown on TV in 1941. It was only 10 seconds long and had an audience of 4,000 people. However, it became a strong trigger for rapid advertising development. The second half of the 20th century is known as the golden age of advertising until the Internet came to the forefront and entirely transformed the advertising landscape. The first commercial banner appeared in the mid-90s, then it was followed by pop-ups, pay-by-placement and paid-pay-click ads. Companies also started advertising their brands and adding their business logo designs, which contributes to consumer trust and trustworthiness.

The rise of social media in the mid-2000s opened a new dimension for advertising content to be integrated. The marketers were forced to make the ads less intrusive and more organic to attract younger users. This is how native advertising was born. This approach remains a perfect medium for goods and services promotion. Let’s see why and how native ads can become a win-win strategy for your business.

What is native advertising?

When it comes to digital marketing, every marketer talks about native advertising. What is the difference between traditional and native ones? You will not miss basic ads as they are typically promotional and gimmicky, while native advertising naturally blends into the content. The primary purpose of native ads is to create content that resonates with audience expectations and encourages users to perceive it seamlessly and harmoniously.

Simply put, native advertising is a paid media ad that organically aligns with the visual and operational features of the media format in which it appears. The concept is quite straightforward: while people just look through banner ads, they genuinely engage with native ads and read them. You may find a lot of native ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – they appear in the form of “in-feed” posts that engage users in search for more stories, opinions, goods and services. This unobtrusive approach turns native ads into a powerful booster for any brand.

How does native advertising benefit your business?

An average Internet user comes across around 10,000 ads a day. But even physically, it is impossible to perceive this amount of information in 24 hours. So, most of them use adblockers, nullifying all efforts of markers. Native ads successfully overcome this digital challenge thanks to their authenticity. And this is not the only advantage of native advertising. How else does your business benefit? Here are just a few major benefits that prove the value of native ads:

Better brand awareness. Native ads contribute to the brand’s visibility. They seamlessly blend into educational, emotional, and visual types of content that can easily become viral. While promotional content typically receives limited shares, users readily share valuable or entertaining content. Consequently, while you incur expenses only for the display of native ads, your audience may go the extra mile by sharing your content and organically promoting your brand or SaaS product at no additional cost.

Increased click-through rates. Native ads can generate a thrilling click-through rate (CTR) primarily because they are meticulously content-adaptable. Thus, native ads become an integral part of the user’s journey without disrupting their browsing experience. Regardless of whether your native advertising campaign is designed to build an audience or drive specific actions, compelling content will always entice users to click through.

Cost-efficient campaign performance. Native advertising proves to be cheaper compared to a traditional ad format. It mainly stems from a higher CTR. Thanks to precise targeting and less customer resistance, native ads allow to bring down cost-per-click.

Native ads are continuously evolving, enabling marketers to experiment with different formats and use them for successful multi-channel campaigns and global reach.

Types of native advertising

Any content can become native advertising as there are no strict format restrictions. For example, it can be an article rating the best fitness applications, an equipment review, or a post by an influencer on a microblog. The same refers to the channels – native ads can be placed on regular websites and social media feeds. Still, some forms tend to be most frequently used.

  • In-feed ads. This type of ad appears within the content feed. You have definitely seen such posts on Facebook and Instagram or such videos on TikTok. They look like regular content but are tagged with an advertising label. The user sees these native ads when scrolling the feed on social media platforms.
  • Paid search ads. These are native ads that are displayed on the top and bottom of the search engine results page. They always match user’s queries and aim to capture their attention at the moment of a particular search and generate leads and conversions. This type of ad is effective for big search platforms with substantial traffic.
  • Recommendation widgets. These come in the form of either texts or images and can be found at the end of the page or on a website’s sidebar. Widgets offer related or intriguing content from either the same publisher or similar sources. This type of native ads is great for retargeting campaigns.
  • Sponsored content. This is one of the most popular types of native advertising. Within this format, an advertiser sponsors the creation of an article or content that aligns with the interests and values of the platform’s audience. They can be marked as “sponsored” or “recommended” to help users differentiate them from organic content.
  • Influencer Advertising. In this case, advertisers partner with popular bloggers or celebrities to gain the attention and trust of the audience. Influencers integrate a product, service, or event into their content or create custom content that matches their style and topic.

Each of these formats can bring stunning results if your native ads are relevant and provide value to users. Use a creative automation platform like Creatopy to design effective ads for your business.

How to create a workable native ad?

Consider these 5 steps for creating a successful native advertising campaign:

  • Define your target audienceUsers will always ignore all ads that are not relevant to them. Unwanted ads are frustrating and can even harm your brand. If you run a store for pets, make sure your ads show content that will be interesting for pet owners. Otherwise, the whole campaign will be undermined. Regular market research and data analysis will help you refine your audience and its demographics.
  • Set your goals. Each advertising campaign should have a clear-cut objective. Without well-defined goals, it is a waste of money. It is a must to know what you want to achieve – introduce your brand, boost sales or increase your audience.
  • Select the proper channels. Now, you need to determine how you will reach out to your customers. Consider displaying ads on social media platforms, targeting search engine result pages (SERPs), distributing paid articles, or utilizing in-ad units on different websites. You may even be able to get creative and use email or SMS in a less salesy and more “native”-feeling way—you can find samples of texts online to help give you ideas. Exploring demand side platforms (DSP) can also bring good results.
  • Offer compelling content. Do not underestimate the quality of the content for your native ads. Besides being expertly written, it must ideally match the style and language of the chosen channel,whether you’re promoting professional headshots, pet products, or anything else. The main distinctive feature of native advertising is that it should fit naturally within the natural content.
  • Track your campaign. After the launch of native ads, it is crucial to monitor the progress, evaluating the costs spent and results. Use tools that help you gain insights beyond standard KPIs like CTR and CPC. You should get engagement metrics, customer data, campaign data, and third-party activity data for further campaign management.

Key takeaway

Summing up the above, it is time to embrace native advertising if you haven’t done it yet. Native ads seamlessly blend with organic content across various platforms, yielding superior engagement and conversion rates compared to traditional display ads. Marketers are allocating higher budgets to native ads because this format proves to be more and more effective – content that adds value can successfully deal with ad fatigue. Native advertising is experiencing a surge in popularity, and it is to reach its peak. So, do not miss a chance to grow your business with the power of native ads.or you can do digital marketing course from Digital Vidya.

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OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons



OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons

A week or so ago, the extraordinary drama happening at OpenAI filled news feeds.

No need to get into all the saga’s details, as every publication seems to have covered it. We’re just waiting for someone to put together a video montage scored to the Game of Thrones music.

But as Sam Altman takes back the reigns of the company he helped to found, the existing board begins to disintegrate before your very eyes, and everyone agrees something spooked everybody, a question arises: Should you care?

Does OpenAI’s drama have any demonstrable implications for marketers integrating generative AI into their marketing strategies?

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain (and give a shoutout to Sutton’s pants rage on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), or keep reading his thoughts:

For those who spent last week figuring out what to put on your holiday table and missed every AI headline, here’s a brief version of what happened. OpenAI – the huge startup and creator of ChatGPT – went through dramatic events. Its board fired the mercurial CEO Sam Altman. Then, the 38-year-old entrepreneur accepted a job at Microsoft but returned to OpenAI a day later.

We won’t give a hot take on what it means for the startup world, board governance, or the tension between AI safety and Silicon Valley capitalism. Rather, we see some interesting things for marketers to put into perspective about how AI should fit into your overall content and marketing plans in the new year.

Robert highlights two takeaways from the OpenAI debacle – a drama that has yet to reach its final chapter: 1. The right structure and governance matters, and 2. Big platforms don’t become antifragile just because they’re big.

Let’s have Robert explain.

The right structure and governance matters

OpenAI’s structure may be key to the drama. OpenAI has a bizarre corporate governance framework. The board of directors controls a nonprofit called OpenAI. That nonprofit created a capped for-profit subsidiary – OpenAI GP LLC. The majority owner of that for-profit is OpenAI Global LLC, another for-profit company. The nonprofit works for the benefit of the world with a for-profit arm.

That seems like an earnest approach, given AI tech’s big and disruptive power. But it provides so many weird governance issues, including that the nonprofit board, which controls everything, has no duty to maximize profit. What could go wrong?

That’s why marketers should know more about the organizations behind the generative AI tools they use or are considering.

First, know your providers of generative AI software and services are all exploring the topics of governance and safety. Microsoft, Google, Anthropic, and others won’t have their internal debates erupt in public fireworks. Still, governance and management of safety over profits remains a big topic for them. You should be aware of how they approach those topics as you license solutions from them.

Second, recognize the productive use of generative AI is a content strategy and governance challenge, not a technology challenge. If you don’t solve the governance and cross-functional uses of the generative AI platforms you buy, you will run into big problems with its cross-functional, cross-siloed use. 

Big platforms do not become antifragile just because they’re big

Nicholas Taleb wrote a wonderful book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. It explores how an antifragile structure doesn’t just withstand a shock; it actually improves because of a disruption or shock. It doesn’t just survive a big disruptive event; it gets stronger because of it.

It’s hard to imagine a company the size and scale of OpenAI could self-correct or even disappear tomorrow. But it can and does happen. And unfortunately, too many businesses build their strategies on that rented land.

In OpenAI’s recent case, the for-profit software won the day. But make no bones about that victory; the event wasn’t good for the company. If it bounces back, it won’t be stronger because of the debacle.

With that win on the for-profit side, hundreds, if not thousands, of generative AI startups breathed an audible sigh of relief. But a few moments later, they screamed “pivot” (in their best imitation of Ross from Friends instructing Chandler and Rachel to move a couch.)

They now realize the fragility of their software because it relies on OpenAI’s existence or willingness to provide the software. Imagine what could have happened if the OpenAI board had won their fight and, in the name of safety, simply killed any paid access to the API or the ability to build business models on top of it.

The last two weeks have done nothing to clear the already muddy waters encountered by companies and their plans to integrate generative AI solutions. Going forward, though, think about the issues when acquiring new generative AI software. Ask about how the vendor’s infrastructure is housed and identify the risks involved. And, if OpenAI expands its enterprise capabilities, consider the implications. What extra features will the off-the-shelf solutions provide? Do you need them? Will OpenAI become the Microsoft Office of your AI infrastructure?

Why you should care

With the voluminous media coverage of Open AI’s drama, you likely will see pushback on generative AI. In my social feeds, many marketers say they’re tired of the corporate soap opera that is irrelevant to their work.

They are half right. What Sam said and how Ilya responded, heart emojis, and how much the Twitch guy got for three days of work are fodder for the Netflix series sure to emerge. (Robert’s money is on Michael Cera starring.)

They’re wrong about its relevance to marketing. They must be experiencing attentional bias – paying more attention to some elements of the big event and ignoring others. OpenAI’s struggle is entertaining, no doubt. You’re glued to the drama. But understanding what happened with the events directly relates to your ability to manage similar ones successfully. That’s the part you need to get right.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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