Justin: Hello everyone! I am here with Lexicon CEO and Founder David Norcross to discuss a fascinating new article he’s written about how the marketing landscape is shaping up in 2024, and in particular, how the increasing adoption of AI is going to affect that. So David, fascinating article, as always.
David: Thank you very much.
Justin: Before we jump into the details of the article earlier this year at this very table,
We had a discussion about how AI was going to impact the business world and more specifically, agencies like ours. How has that played out so far?
David: I think it’s kind of played out exactly as we predicted it would. Back then, what we predicted was that it would have a massive effect on agencies and on marketing life, specifically with regards to low-level work. And what we’ve seen here at Lexicon over the course of this year is that… let’s be honest about this, shall we? The work that was previously done by junior employees is now fully done by AI pretty much.
Justin: And it’s faster and higher quality.
David: Yeah, with no sick days and no drama. So, I think where AI is right now is the best research assistant, the best junior, the best intern that we’ve ever had. But it’s still quite a long way away from being able to replace agencies or replace whole departments. So, it’s been a wonderful, there’s that word again, it’s been an excellent addition to our arsenal, as it has for many people watching this video, I’m sure. And yeah, I wrote the article to kind of update on where I see next year, going with three key areas for businesses to keep an eye out on.
Justin: Yeah, I can certainly echo your sentiments. AI is my favorite coworker ever, although I do argue with it sometimes. It doesn’t do what I want it to do.
David: It is rather verbose as well.
Justin: Yes, sometimes. Yeah, there’s weird little speech patterns that keep coming up. They love ‘unleashing’ and ‘unlocking’.
Justin: And yeah, yeah, the similes and alliteration.
David: Yeah. The alliteration can be fun.
Justin: It kind of writes like a high school student trying to pad a word count.
David: Yes, exactly.
Justin: Like you go okay, well, I asked for 500 words and. All right, here’s some fluff.
David: Yeah. And it’ll often go, okay, here’s your 500 words. I’m like, how many words is that? 80. So, dude, are you sure that’s 500.
Justin: And you’re a robot. You’re supposed to be good at math.
David: Yeah. It’s a very naughty student.
Justin: Yeah. Okay, so getting into the article back in the video in May, you said that the role of agencies would increasingly be focused on high-level strategic partnerships with clients. You repeat that as one of your main predictions for 2024. So tell us a little bit more about that.
David: Sure. Absolutely. And, we’ve actually had six months to a year of operating in an early AI environment. And what we’re seeing really is that we’ve got more retainer clients as a result of AI, not less. We’re not being harmed by it because companies are going to have a choice where, let’s imagine company A, right now they have marketing team of 6 people, there’s a graphic designer, a video producer maybe, who does a few things, photography, maybe does design too, social media manager, maybe there’s a copywriter. A lot of those things can be done on an okay level now by AI. So if you’re okay with okay quality then just let AI do it. Have one person who does all that stuff and you can be active. You can get a 6 out of 10 probably from AI, maybe a 5 out of 10. So companies are going to look to cut back. If they’re already putting work that’s average out there, they might as well do that for a quarter of the price. But another alternative is that you can really focus on your core, not just for marketing stuff, but accounting and all these other areas that AI will be able to augment your existing expertise. But you’ll still need an expert outsourcing partner to put on the quality. So whether it’s Grant Thornton or Connexus or us in different fields, we’re seeing that we now have a bit more time because of AI. So we’re able to be better strategic partners. We’re able to give better client service. We’re able to be part of those boardroom conversations and really help guide our clients moving forward. So agencies are becoming, will become, Chief Marketing Officers for their clients, if they’re doing things properly. They’ll be at the boardroom table helping set the direction, helping communicate properly, not just putting out social media content, but genuinely driving the business forward by aligning closely with the business objectives and adding that extra strategic level advisory consulting that certainly is what we aspire to be. So it’s very aligned with our goals.
Justin: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s something AI can’t do, at least not yet. And something you mentioned in the previous conversation we had about this is that with AI taking care of a lot of the grunt work, doing the repetitive stuff, it really does, ironically, with more robots, doing everything, frees us up to build more human connection.
David: Yeah, absolutely. And even just from your department’s perspective, right. There would have been a work process which was like junior writes something, senior edits it, you send it back down the chain, it comes back again.
Justin: Yeah. Pretty inefficient process.
David: As opposed to now you’re getting pretty good research given to you. I used ChatGPT partly to write the article, but not to write it more to kind of research, give me some ideas. The key is, again, you’re only going to get 6 out of 10 if you’re not an expert yourself, but you if you can understand really what you’re trying to convey. It takes away half the time of actually doing that yourself.
Justin: Right. Yeah you can’t just say, write me an article.
David: Exactly. And if you do, I mean, a lot of people are doing that, and it’s just generic. No one cares about it. It’s exciting that you now can produce all this work. But it’s shallow, it’s empty. So you still need the expert opinion. And increasingly because of the amount of AI that’s going to be out there, I think stuff like this, stuff like personal videos filmed at a production studio in Bangkok and actually talking directly to people will be a major differentiator next year.
Justin: Yes, sure. Yeah. It shows we’re human.
David: That’s a callback?
Justin: Callback to me performing as ChatGPT in a different video. Yes. Deep cut for all the fans out there. For the folks at home.
David: Great video. Easter egg.
Justin: So yeah. So you mentioned the rise of the importance of a Chief Marketing Officer, and that makes a lot of sense. You mentioned the article though, that you fear the demise of performance marketing.
David: Absolutely, yes.
Justin: Why is that?
David: So, not to insult any of our performance marketing friends out there, of which we have many, but it’s a very different game that they play. So for us it’s very much strategically driven. We work with the client on the Big Idea. We make sure that all of the content, from the visuals, to the writing, to the executive branding, it’s all aligned with that end goal. We help support them with events, newsletters, the whole 360. Performance marketing is very much bottom of the funnel stuff. So you want to buy something? Here’s an advert. Easy. And performance marketing agencies do a great job of helping clients optimize their ad budget, get results, and drive the business forward in terms of direct ROI. However, Google, especially Google, but Facebook to a lesser degree. And they probably want to cut out the middleman whenever possible. They want to be dealing directly with you to give you a better experience. And with the rise of AI, it’s going to be very easy to optimize adverts. Like Google is going to launch, I’m sure at some point soon, a fully easy to understand, AI-optimized ad management system. If that happens, why would you need an agency at that point?
Justin: Right, there’s no creativity in that. Just… it’s a widget, right? It’s like turning knobs. So if you could automate that and as you say cut out the middleman.
David: Yeah. So that service would probably just fall into a kind of maybe an agency like us, where it’s just a lower level service that we provide for free because it’s pretty much just all AI.
Justin: Because people are still not going to want to do it, which is a thing that we’ve noticed with some people. It’s like, okay, all AI this stuff is great. I’ve played around with it a little bit. I don’t want to have to deal with it.
Justin: So yeah. So it’ll just be another thing that is outsourced.
David: Yeah. It’s been fun to hear that kind of feedback from clients and potential clients. Like, I was at an event on Tuesday night and I said to a guy, hey, look, happy to give you advice for free. Some of these things you can do yourself with AI now. He’s like I’m busy running my business. I don’t want to have to learn how to do this. I don’t want to do it. I’d rather you do it. You do it well. You quality control it. Make sure it works. I’m just going to focus on growing my business, which I think is exactly the mantra for next year, I think. Focus on your core and wherever possible, optimize your processes, incorporate robotic process automation, incorporate AI. Next year is a really exciting year. I really think it is a year of massive transformation in pretty much every single business and their business model. It’s a great time to be a business owner.
Justin: And finally, you conclude in the article that authenticity is going to be even more important in 2024. You already touched on it, but can you elaborate on that point?
David: Sure. Well, I alluded to it as you said, we’re already seeing it on LinkedIn now where people who hadn’t ever posted before, they’re now posting these semi-articulate text posts. We’re seeing a lot more AI-generated visuals and AI-generated visuals are very cool, but they’re really obviously AI-generated. So it’s great that there’s more people able to have a voice and come to market. But so much of it looks the same that it’s indecipherable. So the people who can actually stay true to themselves, like make videos, show your personality, have something that’s actually unique to say, actual experiences that you’ve had with clients, actual case studies, actual results, real conversations. Real partner. Then you will be able to do a lot more actually engaging with people, because people are going to quickly get bored of that repetitive generic.
Justin: Yeah. It’s like, why would I bother reading something that you didn’t even bother writing?
David: Exactly. Yeah. So we’ve already seen over the last few years a massive increase in executive branding, personal branding. That trend is only going to get bigger next year. I’ve seen some data from LinkedIn that indicates that too. More executives than ever are actively building a personal brand. So if you’re not yet doing that, you really should because the business page of your company, it’s good, but it’s just a logo and it doesn’t get the same level of reach, engagement or any of that. It’s the people in the organization that are really going to drive the next year in terms of marketing. So empower your leaders to speak to what your company does. You know, have the CEO talking about the vision, have the CTO talking about your technology, the Head of People talking about your culture, your values, your vision. So. Yeah. By all means incorporate AI, but just go easy on it because I’m already quite bored by most of it.
Justin: Sure. Okay, well, that’s a good place to wrap it up. We’ve only really scratched the surface of the article, so check out the article. He wrote it himself. No help from AI. A little bit of research assistance. And of course, if you need help navigating the marketing waters in 2024, if you need that high-level strategic partner to make sure your messaging is on point and you want to make the most of all these great tools, get in touch.
David: With the humans.
Justin: With the humans.
David: Thank you.