Someone sends you a link to a story about how retail giant Alibaba recently unleashed an AI tool capable of producing 20,000 lines of marketing content per second. The story makes a chill run down your spine. Are association marketers soon to be replaced by an ever more powerful AI?
These days AI is everything to everyone. Some say it will help eradicate war, disease and poverty. Others claim it will throw pretty much everyone out of work.
The second claim has at least some basis in fact. AI is extending the reach of robotic automation to more and more industries and professions. According to one famous study, one half of current jobs in the United States — and Canada is likely no different — are at high risk of automation.
But what about marketing? Will AI soon have what it takes to understand your members’ needs and connect with them in ways that build long-term trust and loyalty? Is your job destined for the dustbin of history?
The short answer is: Not likely.
AI will continue to help automate — and even improve — repetitive, formulative tasks such as generating detailed information about your events and professional development programs, and many of your social media posts.
But when it comes to forging deep connections with members, AI is out in the cold. AI is about logic, not emotion. It’s about predictability, not creativity. It doesn’t yet have — and may never have — that distinctly human touch.
The power of storytelling
This last point is especially important for associations. Your relationship
s with members can last for decades and are continuous, day in and day out.
Instead of competing with AI algorithms, your association's marketing strategy can focus on the skills that enrich human experience: empathy, emotional intelligence, relationship development and growth. You express these skills when you communicate authentically, addressing both the minds and hearts of members.
So don’t just send members information: tell them stories. Stories work best with video, which is inherently more engaging than text: people spend over twice as long on a website that has video than one that doesn’t, for example. Instead of listing the benefits of membership on your website, create several short videos of high-profile members talking about how your association has touched their professional and personal lives. Instead of relying solely on a descriptive brochure, promote your annual conference with video highlights from last year’s conference.
These are the kinds of communications in which AI has no place. And the more effectively you use them, the more you’re future-proofing your organization — and your job!
About the author
Jamie McIntosh is president of Ottawa-based inMotion, a full-service agency offering marketing strategy, messaging and branding, digital and video marketing and web development. Since 1979, inMotion has helped dozens of professional and industry associations recruit and retain members, influence policy and open new markets and other opportunities.