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7 posts from March 2023

Building Trust in Marketing Messages

Michael Katz just published a great newsletter issue about building trust with your audience. It's fun to read, and I won't give away the message here!

Blue Penguin Development: Trust-Based Marketing, 2023-Mar-16 by Michael Katz

Trust is Not a Given

Since that day [first-time paragliding], I’ve given a lot of thought to trust (and life insurance). More specifically, what allowed me, with all my fears, to move ahead?

I think it came down to three things, all of which also relate to how prospective clients decide to commit (or not) and work with professional service providers like us…

#1. Professionalism....

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Your Customers' Experience of ChatGPT

Marketers are excited about using ChatGPT, but are customers excited to experience ChatGPT-generated marketing messages? As a customer, I would like the quality of marketing messages I receive to increase, while the quantity of them decreases. That doesn't sound like an automatic result of using any AI tool. Thanks to Liz Miller for laying out a big set of questions that companies and their marketing departments will have to work through.

Unfortunately, I expect an AI race to break out among companies to be first to improve profits by using products like ChatGPT. A lot of guardrails will not be created until customer experience plummets over the edge.

Destination CRM: ChatGPT: Looking Beyond the Hype, 2023-Mar-24 by Liz Miller

It is time to have AI strategy discussions to outline strategic imperatives, guardrails, and intentional applications, especially across employee and customer experience environments. That involves asking these questions:

What? What are the processes and workflows that can and should be influenced, impacted, or automated thanks to AI? What impacts do you expect due to this new automation or influx of actionable intelligence? What will meet, exceed, or destroy customer trust or relationships? Will your customers appreciate an account update written by ChatGPT? Will they want to get a “personalized” failure-to-pay message in the voice of your CEO?

How? How will these new AI applications be trained? How has it already been trained and with whose data? How will the model continuously improve? What data is being brought to the new graph on which the insatiable beast known as AI will feed? How will accuracy, legitimacy, and dare I say ethical AI manifest in this new model? How will the value of AI be communicated and shared across both customer and employee cohorts? How will success be quantified outside of efficiencies or time saved? How will AI be measured?

Why? Why are these AI tools being deployed? To what end? Who will these improvements and accelerations impact and impress? How will stakeholders in the processes and output be impacted—and how will they react and why? Why are people hesitant to use AI tools? Why will they embrace them? Why will your teams lean into these co-pilots and assistants? Why will they feel threatened? Where and how can early or better communication about tools and their proposed impact change this reaction? Are the processes and automations being impacted thanks to generative AI being recognized as AI-generated? Does it matter to your people or your customers?

You get the idea. There are a lot of questions!

It will be more important to establish AI strategies now as more tools hit the market and turn the heads of employees and customers alike. So far, most organizations have looked at AI as a grand experiment, making selective and limited introductions in highly controlled and specific spaces. But that luxury of lengthy experimentation will quickly come to a close, as both customers and employees will expect more tools and solutions that add more value to their digital experiences. That’s why you need to bring the right teams together now to talk through these key “what,” “how,” and “why” questions.

The cautionary tales are plentiful: that time a major company unleashed its AI onto the world only for it to become a grouchy, foulmouthed racist, or the time that generative AI users started to get self-portrait avatars that were more boudoir than business portrait, or that time that AI outed a pregnant teenager to the outrage of her in-denial parents. At the same time, the wins and benefits are impossible to ignore: process improvements; employee satisfaction and documented performance improvements; revenue improvements thanks to experience improvements. This is why these strategic conversations aren’t something that can happen once the plane is in the air. The time is now. The cost is experience. It is just that simple. And not even ChatGPT can rewrite that truth.

Liz Miller is vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, covering the broad landscape of customer experience strategy and technologies.


I like the way Chip Conley ends this apology example. I may have to keep a copy in my back pocket: “It’s not easy for me to say I’m sorry, but not admitting a mistake is worse than pointing out a mistake. While I still believe in my logical point, I lacked empathy and artfulness in how I expressed it. Please accept my apology, and let’s get back to a healthy debate on this topic.”

Don't let fear of ridicule squelch your ideas... even the "dumb" ones

The Maven Game: A Head Full of Ideas, 2023-Mar-4 by David Moldawer

Creatively competent people welcome "dumb" ideas. They love them! Contributions that are weird, cringy, tangential, bizarre, klutzy, catachrestic, or otherwise unexpected are the most useful when you're trying to get somewhere new, interesting, and valuable. Great ideas grow best from the fertile soil of stupidity. If you want to be smart, get stupid.

Now, you may not be surrounded by any creatively competent people. They may all sneer at your dumb ideas. Doesn't matter. If your collaborators, team, and/or company are creatively hopeless, all your efforts are doomed anyway. What do you have to lose? Build that blurt muscle. Bring a head full of ideas and fearlessly share those pearls with the swine. That way, you'll be ready when you finally get the chance to shine.

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Blogging to Inspire

The Ahrefs blog recently inspired me with an article about 'reasons to use content marketing.' They made the insightful comment that content marketing cannot directly drive action. In addition to educating and entertaining, they recommended inspiring the reader. I've never thought about, and now I think maybe that's what I always should have been doing!

Ahrefs: Content Marketing Goals: How Many & Which Ones, 2023-Feb-27 by Mateusz Makosiewicz


This is content that gives people “the spark” to act and achieve their goals. 

Inspiration is different from education in a way that it doesn’t serve complete solutions. It acts on imagination and emotion to show the possible or states an important question. Plus, it’s typically more influential than educational content. 

Inspiration works for businesses because it: 

  • Allows you to reach people before they experience a problem your product solves and when they’re not looking to solve a problem. This allows you to beat the competition to the punch.
  • Makes an emotional connection with your audience through excitement and enthusiasm. Emotions make brands unforgettable. 
  • Lets inspirational brands really stand out. 
  • Has the power to influence. 
  • May make people want to come back spontaneously. And that’s important because then the content makes its way to the reader without any competition. 


Unexpected Precondition for Innovation, noted by Nilofer Merchant

When we are trying to drive innovation in an organization, we often ignore an essential precondition. This precondition is sometimes called "psychological safety." Nilofer Merchant has a valuable angle on this for managers. You can't get to psychological safety in your team until you recognize the unique value of each individual. It's not enough to say "you can express your ideas." You have to notice what each person wants to contribute and make space for them.

Nilofer Merchant: Belonging Precedes "Doing Stuff", 2017-Dec-21

We each need to belong. Having a sense of belonging is, in fact, a most fundamental human psychological need, as essential as our need for shelter, sustenance, and being safe from harm. For those of us who took Psych, is in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs....

Belonging is the Key to Innovation

With belonging, you show up in the world more fully alive. With it, you feel safe enough to share an early notion, to explore that seemingly wild idea, and even take the risks to invent the future. So, before you can “Do Stuff”— dream and think stuff up, build or create stuff, act and react to stuff — we each need to belong....

We want to be seen, and belong in a meaningful way… as ourselves. By our Onlyness. If there is one thing any leader can do to create more innovation, it’s to lead in such a way as to create belonging.