Clive Armitage (00:09):
Hi, there. I’m Clive Armitage, CEO of Agent3 and welcome to another in our occasional series of the Agents of Change. Great to have you with us.
I’m delighted to be joined by someone I’ve known for longer than I care to mention, Katie King, who is the CEO of Zoodikers, and she’s got 30 years’ experience of advising some of the most amazing brands in marketing strategy. She’s also one of the most energetic and enthusiastic marketers I’ve ever met and that enthusiasm, that energy rubs off on people, is kinetic, is brilliant. So it’s great to have you here today, Katie. Thanks for coming on.
Katie King (00:17):
Oh, what a lovely intro. Thank you, Clive. I’m going to live up to that now.
Clive Armitage (00:43):
No, you got to live up to it. Obviously, you’ve spent a really varied career advising brands on marketing strategy. Latterly, you’ve got much more focused around AI and the impact of AI on marketing and what it means for us as marketers and, in fact, written a couple of books.
What I’d love to know today is part of the agents of change is what’s been the catalyst for that change for you in terms of focusing on AI and what has made you so passionate about the subject and it’s importance that you’ve wanted to write a couple of books about it? Can you explain that and then we’ll get into the conversation.
Katie King (01:23):
Great place to start. That catalyst is very real and very simple, and it’s about staying ahead and thriving. I’ve been, as you say, in the marketing and creative space for about 30 years and new entrants are coming in all the time. So I hit 50 five years ago and this was a very real need to innovate and not just survive, but thrive, and I’ve always wanted to try and be ahead of the pack. I did that with digital and did a TEDx about digital when it was still really like being poo-pooed and people were very skeptical about it.
So AI was really, I could see its potential, I could see the impact it was going to have on marketing and sales and CX. What I find really fascinating about it is the endless possibilities that it has and how actually accessible it is to people of all budgets in every area in the world, every region, every industry sector, and every job function.
Clive Armitage (02:25):
Tell me about those two books you’ve written because, obviously, they take an awful lot of time, but there’s a ton of great content in there. Just explain why you wrote those.
Katie King (02:34):
Yeah, absolutely. You can see if anyone’s sort of seeing this, you’ve got audio and visual, haven’t you?
Clive Armitage (02:34):
Katie King (02:40):
I’ve seen that from your podcast. First book 2019, second book January of this year. Both books take about a year to write. They are, obviously, my work, but they’re a collection of case studies from brilliant people all over the world. They’re all about how you can harness artificial intelligence in your sales and marketing, in your customer experience. Both books draw on all of that experience and give you a methodology and a framework.
In fact, I keep turning back to the first book actually because it’s still very current. But in book one there is a scorecard for success and it picks on, and you can gamify it. So it’s got 10 core areas, I won’t go through every single one of them, but things like do you have the right mindset? Do you have a business case? So not as an agency, PR agency or a retailer just jumping on the bandwagon, but working out, well, what could AI do for my organization? How could it help us personalize the type of marketing we do? And if so, who are the vendors for that? How do I get started? Do I get funding, et cetera? Those kinds of things.
Clive Armitage (03:51):
That feels to me as though you’re helping people really understand what the potential impact is and-
Katie King (03:51):
Clive Armitage (03:56):
… as you say, how to get started.
Where are we on the adoption curve for AI and I guess linked to that, what’s accelerating the adoption and maybe, conversely, what’s holding us back?
Katie King (04:09):
Yeah, really good. Lots of different, again, methodologies you could look at. I like to look at the Gartner Hype Cycle and Gartner and others are featured in the book as well. It’s not a simple answer to that. Depends on the country, depends on the industry sector. If you’re looking at marketing and retail, that would be very different adoption curve to, say, education.
But I think we’ve certainly passed the innovation trigger, which we were in for a long time, that hype of paranoia and so on, and I think we’ve passed that sort of inflated expectation area. In some instances in marketing of certain goods and services, we are perhaps at the trough of disillusionment where people have adopted, might be a tool like Jasper, or Concured, or any of them, Frase, there were loads of them out there for marketing and PR and comms and maybe people are a bit, “Mm, it’s brilliant for this, maybe it’s not great for that, or maybe it’s expensive, or maybe it doesn’t glue everything together.” So I think it does depend.
Where we are getting closer to is the scope of enlightenment where you start to get real benefit and, eventually, we might get there and have that plateau of productivity. I think where we are very different to where we’re before lockdown, lockdown accelerated that so people weren’t fully digitized and I think lockdown has helped digitize everything, forced us. Even just like this, Zoom, it’s forced us to be on that digital path, which has accelerated it.
But what’s holding it back? Maybe the Wild West of thousands of vendors, people thinking they should do it, but not knowing where to start, people thinking that they can’t afford it.
Clive Armitage (06:04):
Linked to that question, I guess, is certainly something that I think we’re all sensing and somewhat worried about as marketers is what does the next six to nine months look like from an economic perspective?
Now we’re hearing the rumblings of difficult times ahead, which for us as marketers often means tighten budgets or, if not tighten budgets, the imperative to do more or less or be more predictable. If you are looking to prioritize the marketer in the coming months and thinking about where you should be investing to get your bang for buck, where do you think AI should sit within your strategy there? Can it be deployed quickly to drive value or can it be accelerated? What’s your advice in times of perhaps more challenging economic conditions?
Katie King (06:52):
I think it has to be high on the list of priorities because it can alleviate some of those issues for some small amounts of investment. It might be a content bot or a copy.ai or one of those kinds of areas that might end up doing the job of what you perhaps had planned in terms of people to hire. That doesn’t mean it’s going to go and take away all of our jobs, but it might actually alleviate some of that. It might be about retention of customers and the AI tool might actually be helping you to do mass personalization in a way that our human brain just can’t cope with that. It might find anomalies that you hadn’t sort of thought about.
I think there are tools on the market that can help you differentiate, help you stand out from the pack, help you do some of the mundane or some of the really important tasks that maybe get pushed aside when times are difficult. There are chat bots, there are big implementations that can take tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of budget, and then there are small point-to-point solutions that may actually make a huge difference to what you’re trying to achieve.
Clive Armitage (08:02):
So putting you on the spot there in terms of your favorite small point-to-point solution that may be driving quick value, have you got one or two that you would say, “You know what, that’s just a cracking little tool that you should use?”
Katie King (08:14):
Yeah, I mean it’s simple things. Otter.ai, we use all the time. It’s fantastic. It’s more of a productivity tool, but if I’d had it during book one, it would’ve saved me months of my time. I used it in book two. So an hour Zoom meeting like this, it can transcribe all of that for you. Hugely time-saving little tool. Then tools like Frase and I’m hearing great things, I must admit I haven’t used it, but I’m hearing great things about Jasper so these content tools.
Within existing tools like Brandwatch and even MailChimp, you’ve got now little AI engines. So make sure if you are already subscribed to certain tools that perhaps there’s an AI element to that that you hadn’t realized that you could have potentially for free or for a small increase. So there’s some of them. There’s some of them.
Clive Armitage (09:06):
[inaudible 00:09:06] Yeah, that’s great. I guess what I’m hearing from you is in tougher economic times when pressure is on headcount or inability to hire, automate those processes that you can-
Katie King (09:19):
Clive Armitage (09:19):
… and maybe redirect your talent towards things that require creative thinking and invest in the AI solutions that provide the automation.
Katie King (09:28):
Absolutely. And tell your customers, we are innovative, we have these tools and not going to look elsewhere. It might help you with that retention and cross-selling of your clients as well.
Clive Armitage (09:41):
No, that’s fantastic. Well, thank you for spending your time today. What comes across is passion for the subject and I’m no doubt that this is going to be something that we continue to see talking about, maybe writing more books in the future.
Katie King (09:54):
Clive Armitage (09:55):
Yeah, which would be great. So, Katie, thank you. Great to see you as always, and I hope everyone enjoys this discussion today.
Katie King (10:02):
You, too, Clive. Thank you very much. Thanks, everybody. Bye-bye.