Italian lingerie brand Cosabella recently replaced its agency with an artifical intelligence (AI) agent called Albert. While I don’t think our robot overlords are taking over quite yet, having a machine do the majority of the marketing grunt work more effectively and efficiently than us mere mortals is an attractive proposition.
It’s also a potentially huge disruption. For a CMO considering such a shift, it will come with a number of potential challenges for your marketing organisation.
Feeding The Machine
Firstly, you’re now going to have to make ‘stuff’. Best case, you need a solid methodology to help churn out photos and snippets of text that are of a uniformly high quality and tell the brand story. The platforms can sort out what goes where and optimise it, but they can’t originate the content (yet). So that’s your job.
This shouldn’t be onerous; it should be fun. But it does require a level of organisation and discipline that is often missing. It’s probably a good idea to work out a production methodology, understand the outputs required and do a dry run before buying into the software, redrawing org charts, staffing up and building error in the system at inception.
Bringing in–dare I say it–an ex-agency consultant to help pull together a workflow might not be such a bad idea. Once you get into content production there are nuances and annoyances but these can be anticipated; ‘forewarned is forearmed’ as it were.
Starting From Scratch
Now, about those org charts. I can guarantee this won’t be a popular thought but I’m going to say it anyway. You need to rethink fundamentally who you need and who you don’t. The skillsets required to insource and manage your shiny new internal agency are going to be somewhat different to the traditional raft of brand, marketing and channel managers.
The shape of the new organisation is obviously going to be a bit more agency-like. Instead of having account managers though, you’ll have segment or persona managers–that is assuming you are doing the whole customer-centric thing at the same time.
You are most likely going to want to bring in a few ‘full stack marketer’ types. They are gold dust–and tend not to be ‘grown’ but ‘born’. That means if your existing crew aren’t already either experts or somewhat autodidactic then they may not be fit for purpose. Have fun with that.
You are also likely to have to hire producers. Now, in my terminology, producers are very different from project managers. Project managers for the most part manage time and budgets. Producers overlap somewhat but a good one will understand the entire production workflow, and can contribute strategically to the brand and to the definition of the content. As a bonus they also help manage third-party relationships, which is still likely to happen!
They are tough to find too, especially if you want a solid understanding of digital/interactive as well as film, since you will be doing both. They do exist; the question is whether they will want to work for you.
Creativity Needs To Be Insourced
In traditional marketing organisations you rarely find true Creatives. That’s not to say that your existing staff aren’t creative–it’s simply not their job to come up with the ideas. Typically, they are there to appreciate and approve them.
Frankly, creative types are a pain in the neck; there is a direct correlation between creative effectiveness and personality disorders. Okay, I made that up but it feels true. Developers and data types are even worse, and you are most likely going to have to have a few of them onside too. Managing these kinds of teams requires a unique skillset in itself so you’d best get some practice in somewhere.
It’s no coincidence that most agencies have a level of ‘cool’–with the pool tables, inefficient use of space and creative ‘stuff’ all over the place. I have rarely observed such reckless disregard for professional office norms client-side. This means that your corporate culture, your environment, your location and many other factors will directly impact your ability to recruit, retain and engage creative minds.
The sad reality is that it’s a sellers’ market right now in recruitment, especially for the kind of people you’re going to need. This means that above and beyond your commercial brand, you’re going to have to give your employer brand some serious love.
It’s an exciting time for marketing. If managed correctly our robot overlords can remove a substantial amount of the less interesting side of the job. The big question is whether you’re ready to take that step. If you take the time, think it through, do a fair amount of soul-searching and make a decent plan then there is no reason not to take advantage of the super, marvellous and utterly magical experience that our AI-driven future offers.