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Generative AI’s strategic advantage for B2B marketing lies in its ability to provide an authentic, human touch amidst a technology-focused environment.

Generative AI presents B2B marketers with a rather unique opportunity – to establish an unassailable competitive advantage. Here’s the catch: You need to have what it takes to seize this opportunity and make it yours. 

There are 3 critical success factors. You need to:

  1. Be willing to use AI to its best advantage, and not beyond.
  2. Focus on long-term profitability.
  3. Give a shit.

Let me explain.

Use AI as a lever, not a club

AI will, in the near future, be generating most, if not almost all, of the content we experience, whether written, visual or aural. There is a massive amount of investment that requires payback so this will be online and a standard operating procedure, ASAP. Then there is the promise of seemingly effortless productivity at a fraction of the cost.

It is important not to underestimate the force of AI. You can get on the train or it will run right over you. Resistance is futile.

My guess is that the volume of content is going to grow exponentially. Fast and soon, and deployed throughout the customer lifecycle. This creates a singular opportunity for marketers. 

AI may be a hammer, but everything else is not a nail. Competitive advantage is not created by bludgeoning the customer.

AI, used properly, leverages success. In B2B, I think it will prove its greatest effectiveness at the top of the funnel where it can create both strategic and reactive messages, and then repurpose them quickly, capturing attention and establishing  brand credibility.

AI’s best use will be in prospecting and PR, and its best users will be large companies with large markets and transactional relationships.

Focus on long-term profitability

However, later in the lifecycle, sending out this volume of messaging, just because we can, runs the risk of making customers run for cover. And it is, after all, these customers who are going to create your profitability, or not.

Now, you’ve hit the second criteria, and you are focused on long-term profitability. 

Later in the lifecycle is where you get the opportunity to create happier customers that stay longer and buy more.  

Here’s where we get to giving a shit

The not-so-secret is that your customers are human. You’re human. B2B sales have always been personal. The basis of every long-term B2B relationship is personal.

You have to care enough to put yourself into the content and communications with your customers. From a point of honesty and empathy, craft messages that are based on what you know about each, not about you. 

Will it require extra time and effort? Yup. But what you get is worth it.

The return is trust,
a deeper relationship,
a deep-seated preference for your brand,
referrals based on deep respect,
your customers buy-in to the notion that their success is your success, and you’ll do what you need to do to ensure their future success is tied to you.

A fairly unassailable competitive advantage

And that’s it. The unassailable competitive differentiator. Human-created content, human-created messaging, Authenticity. AI is not the enemy of authenticity, it paves the way.

Brene Brown provides us with a very worthwhile and actionable definition:

“Authenticity is … about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest.”

Could all this happen without authenticity, without any extra effort, letting AI take the reins and gallop into the sunset? 

Yup – we’re in uncharted territory. But my experience is that, given the person-to-person bedrock of B2B, putting yourself into personal communications with your most important customers will generate incremental to exponential improvement in retention, referral, and profitability.  

Do you have what it takes?

About the Author

Scott Hornstein

International author, lecturer and consultant, Scott Hornstein has worked with clients in all phases of marketing strategy, research, and implementation. He has worked with companies large and small to build profitability, by improving marketing performance, and reengineering the customer experience to boost satisfaction, referrals, and customer lifetime value.

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