Why AI makes marketers forget the basics and how to fix it

Why AI makes marketers forget the basics and how to fix it

AI is in danger of making marketers like me forget the basic principles. Obsessing about the tool. Letting hype beat common sense.

With all the noise, it’s easy to forget that AI is not a magic wand; it’s a tool. A powerful tool admittedly. And like any tool, it needs a skilled operator to get the best results.

It’s effectiveness hinges on the skill and understanding of the operator. To harness AI’s full potential in crafting marketing strategies and tactics, we must first have a deep comprehension of how these strategies work. And we must treat it like a talented partner, not a replacement.

Customer focus is still crucial

Successful marketing campaign starts an almost obsessive understanding of customers. No matter how many tools excite us, whether it’s the next NFT or Metaverse, no matter how advanced AI becomes, this basic principle remains unchanged.

Marketing isn’t just about promotion; it’s about identifying a customer need, creating a solution in the form of a product or service, pricing it properly, and then promoting it to customers to create a desire to buy. AI can assist in this process, but the insights it provides are only as valuable as the data and direction we give it.

Stop tallking about PROMPTS and start talking about BRIEFS

One common misconception is that AI can produce high-quality content with minimal input. It can churn out content, sure, but it often ends up being…crap. 

Why? Because AI learns from existing data, and that data isn’t always good. To do something different, remarkable or stand out, it needs a detailed and thoughtful brief.

Everyone uses the term “prompt” when interacting with AI, implying the process is much simpler than it is.

In reality, we need to use the same rigor as briefing a top-tier agency. By providing unique and specific inputs, we can ensure that the content created by AI stands out and avoids the trap of crap. We have to put something different in in order to get something different out.

And it isn’t about cost cutting either

Moreover, as we integrate AI into our marketing efforts, our primary goal should always be to enhance the customer experience. If we prioritize cutting costs or boosting profits at the expense of customer satisfaction, we risk repeating past mistakes. Consider the offshoring of call centers in the 1990s and 2000s. While cost-cutting was achieved, customer service and experience suffered significantly. We must not let history repeat itself with AI.

In conclusion, AI holds tremendous promise for the future of marketing, but its success depends on our approach. By combining a deep understanding of our customers with thoughtful and detailed AI briefs, and by prioritizing customer experience, we can leverage AI to create innovative and effective marketing strategies.

Let’s use AI not just as a tool, but as a catalyst for delivering exceptional value to our customers.

Stop PROMPTING AI – We need to start BRIEFING to get the best results

Stop PROMPTING AI - We need to start BRIEFING to get the best results


In the dynamic world of marketing and communication, a detailed and well-crafted brief can be the difference between an effective and creative agency pitch and a mediocre one. Now we’re living with AI we face a similar issue. The key to unlocking AI’s true potential lies not in prompting, but briefing? Let’s explore the fascinating realm of AI creativity.

Lessons from the Trenches

Early in my career, I encountered a string of lackluster pitches from creative marketing agencies. I remember after one grim morning the Marketing Director, exasperated, raised her hands and declared, “It’s not their fault. We messed up the brief.” Our strategy lacked clarity, our position was fuzzy, and our goals weren’t defined.

That was a wake-up call for me. The brief mattered more than I’d realised.

The AI Conundrum

Fast forward to today, where AI increasingly dominates conversations. Yet, despite the hype, many find AI-generated content uninspiring. It’s like ordering a vanilla latte and receiving lukewarm tap water. Disappointing, right? But when I see disappointing AI output, my mind goes back to those agency pitch meetings. The issue isn’t the AI, it’s the prompt.

The Problem with Prompts

The word “prompt” implies simplicity. It suggests that creating a few lines of instruction is child’s play. But AI isn’t a magic wand, it’s a tool. And like any tool, it needs precise instructions. That’s why we should think of prompts as briefs.

The Power of a Well-Crafted Brief

Imagine briefing an agency for a high-stakes campaign. You wouldn’t scribble a few vague sentences on a napkin and call it a day. No, you’d meticulously outline your vision, goals, and desired impact. The same applies to AI. A good brief is a roadmap to a successful campaign.

Crafting Your AI Brief

  • Details: Be thorough. Specify tone, style, and audience. Describe the emotional arc you want. Remember, AI isn’t a mind reader; it thrives on specifics.
  • Context: Provide context. Explain the backstory, your brand’s essence, and the customer problem you’re solving. Context fuels creativity.
  • Constraints: Set boundaries. Limitations spark ingenuity. Tell AI what not to do, as well as what you want it to consider.
  • CollaborationI: Think of AI as your creative partner. It’s not a mindless automaton, it’s a canvas waiting for your strokes.

The Myth of Instant Magic

If you want top quality output that stands out, your brief needs to be detailed and thorough. Just as if you were briefing an agency. A good brief might take a long time to put together. You’re not going to get it from a “10,000 ChatGPT Prompts R-US”.


So, let’s retire the word “prompt.” Instead, let’s talk about “briefs.” Let’s elevate our expectations and demand brilliance. Because when AI meets a stellar brief, a successful result is more likely than a mediocre one.

Next time you’re tempted to say “prompt,” pause. Take a deep breath. And remember, it’s not about the prompt, it’s about the brief.

More than logos and fonts – how to create a strong brand with David O’Hearns – MAF289

This week let’s talk about brand and positioning.

But we’ll go beyond logos, fonts and colours and look at what branding is really about.

My guest is David O’Hearns and this is episode 289 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

More than logos and fonts - how to create a strong brand with David O'Hearns - MAF289

What you’ll hear about in this episode:

  • Why branding is more than logos, fonts and colours
  • Brand values and tone of voice
  • How looking at what you hate can reveal what you stand for
  • Why TV’s Apprentice does branding a disservice
  • Sticking to brand values in the long-term but avoiding “brand police”
  • What is positioning and how does it fit with branding?

Roger’s Links

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