What ChatGPT Means for the Future of Copywriting

ChatGPT has caught the attention of the world—but is it a mere novelty, or a real competitor to human copywriters? Paul Rosevear puts the chatbot to the test.

Is ChatGPT a real competitor to human copywriters?

It began as a joke around the office. Could ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot which the New York Times has covered a few times, hack it at MarketSmiths? What if we gave the bot the same writing test we give our agency applicants? How would it fare?

As creative copywriters, our fears of being rendered obsolete by such technologies have long been assuaged by the clunky, senseless, and downright gibberish churned out by various chatbots over the years. But ChatGPT is something different entirely. 

From jokes about DJs to limericks about otters, ChatGPT is already creating quite a stir over its ability to produce writing that’s lucid, informative, and even entertaining. My favorite example of its literary prowess is a treatise on how to remove a peanut butter sandwich from a VCR, written in the style of the King James Bible. More than 1 million users signed up to use the free interface in the first week post-launch. 

Over a holiday visit to my sister’s, my techie brother-in-law helped me better understand what’s going on behind the bot:

What’s unique about ChatGPT is this: the bot isn’t just an information aggregator, combing the web to compile an answer like some kind of real-time Google search on steroids; rather, during its training it not only learned how to write (by learning to predict connections between words) but was also fed large swaths of data so that when it encounters a new question, it can compose an original response based on what it knows, using the writing skill it’s been taught.

Admittedly, this was a tricky distinction for me to comprehend at first. But the more I thought about it, the more it struck me as the clearest example of true “artificial intelligence” I’ve encountered yet. After distracting myself by having the bot write a few song lyrics for my bandmates and me, I could delay no longer. I had to know:  

Was this thing coming for my copywriting job

ChatGPT takes the MarketSmiths writing test

With trepidation, I typed the prompts into the machine…

Me: Please look through our blog at https://www.marketsmiths.com/blog/ to get a sense of our voice and the topics we cover. Then pitch us 2-3 blog post ideas on the topic of B2B marketing.

ChatGPT: Sure! Here are three potential ideas for blog posts on the topic of B2B marketing:

  • “5 Tips for Creating an Effective B2B Marketing Strategy”: In this post, you could provide practical tips and best practices for developing a B2B marketing strategy that effectively targets and engages potential customers. You could include advice on things like defining your target audience, identifying key messages and differentiators, and developing a content marketing plan.
  • “The Importance of Personalization in B2B Marketing”: This post could delve into the role that personalization plays in B2B marketing, and how it can help businesses better connect with their target audience. You could discuss tactics like segmenting your audience and using personalized email marketing campaigns, as well as the benefits of personalization in terms of driving conversions and customer loyalty.
  • “Leveraging Social Media for B2B Marketing Success”: Social media has become an increasingly important tool for B2B marketers, and this post could explore how businesses can effectively use social media to engage with their target audience and drive leads. You could discuss strategies like developing a social media content calendar, using social media advertising, and measuring the ROI of your social media efforts.

These were pretty good. Clear, intelligent, and relevant—but a bit generic. I revised the prompt to clarify that we’re looking for fresh ideas:

Me: Please look through our blog at https://www.marketsmiths.com/blog/ to get a sense of our voice and the topics we cover. Then pitch us 2-3 blog post ideas on the topic of B2B marketing. Please make them fresh, and not a re-spin of what’s already out there.

ChatGPT: Certainly! Here are three fresh ideas for blog posts on the topic of B2B marketing:

  1. “Maximizing the Impact of Your B2B Marketing with Artificial Intelligence”: In this post, you could explore how businesses can use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve their B2B marketing efforts. This could include topics like using AI to analyze customer data and personalize marketing campaigns, leveraging AI-powered chatbots to improve customer service, or using machine learning algorithms to optimize ad targeting.
  2. “The Future of B2B Marketing: Predictions and Trends for 2022 and Beyond”: This post could take a forward-looking approach and discuss emerging trends and predictions for the future of B2B marketing. You could explore topics like the increasing importance of customer experience, the rise of virtual events, or the potential impact of new technologies like augmented reality or blockchain on B2B marketing strategies.
  3. “Creating a B2B Marketing Plan for a New Product Launch”: Launching a new product can be a major undertaking for any business, and this post could offer tips and best practices for creating a successful B2B marketing plan for a new product launch. This could include advice on things like building buzz and anticipation, creating targeted marketing campaigns, and developing a strategy for post-launch follow-up and engagement.

Finally, I asked it to write a post with some fairly detailed instructions: 

Me: Write a 300-400 words post on the topic of “The Future of B2B Marketing: Predictions and Trends for 2022 and Beyond”. Start with a strong opening hook that acknowledges the reader’s questions, pain points, and point of view. Construct a narrative that leaves readers with an actionable takeaway, insight, or new perspective. Use a conversational writing style that’s akin to how you might speak with an associate in the industry you’re writing about. Thank you!

ChatGPT: “As a B2B marketer, have you ever found yourself wondering what the future holds for your industry? What new technologies or trends will shape the way we market to businesses in the coming years?

Well, wonder no more! In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the top predictions and trends for the future of B2B marketing. From the increasing importance of customer experience to the rise of virtual events, these are the trends you’ll want to keep an eye on as we head into 2022 and beyond.

One trend that’s set to continue gaining momentum is the shift towards personalized, customer-centric marketing. B2B buyers expect a more personalized and seamless experience, and smart marketers will be using data and technology to deliver targeted, relevant messaging and content. This could include using AI to analyze customer data and personalize marketing campaigns, or leveraging chatbots to improve customer service and support.

Another trend to watch is the rise of virtual events. With the ongoing pandemic, many businesses have had to pivot to virtual events as a way to connect with customers and partners. While in-person events will likely make a comeback eventually, it’s clear that virtual events are here to stay. Savvy marketers will be looking for ways to make the most of this new format, whether it’s through innovative virtual networking opportunities or immersive, interactive experiences.

Finally, we can’t talk about the future of B2B marketing without mentioning emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and blockchain. These technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we engage with customers and partners, and it’s likely that we’ll see more and more businesses experimenting with these tools in the coming years.

So, what does all this mean for you as a B2B marketer? The key takeaway here is that the future of B2B marketing is all about being customer-centric, leveraging technology and data, and being open to new and innovative approaches. Keep an eye on these trends, and you’ll be well-positioned to succeed in the dynamic and ever-evolving world of B2B marketing.”

For a bot, I thought this was pretty darn impressive. There’s not a ton of personality happening, it’s light on insight, and lacks a real point of view—but it’s clear, concise, and well-written enough that I might actually want to get this “writer” on the phone!

A legendary arena got made-to-order copy

Madison Square Garden (MSG) has hosted all of the greats—from the Beatles to the Rangers. In 2015, the infamous venue decided it was high time to upgrade its ordering system for VIP guests in corporate suites (enough with faxing!). The privately owned venue brought MarketSmiths on board to write product descriptions for all dishes, cocktails, and wine on offer. Our resident food, wine, and liquor copywriters nailed the copy, doing justice to the dazzling accommodations that make MSG so legendary. As a result, MSG reported corporate-suite YoY  revenue growth from $1.6M to $11M.

> Read the full case study

So what does ChatGPT mean for copywriters? 

Well, for starters, it means we’ve got digital competition. ChatGPT can write in an intelligent, enjoyable, and informative style. It can communicate in the form of a story. It can string a sentence together—even an essay. It can come up with blog topics. In short, it can do a lot of the things that previously only humans could do.

But can it build relationships with clients that lead to shared insight and collective breakthroughs? Can it have an ongoing dialogue with an audience, one that deepens with meaning over time? Can it create ideas that galvanize others—generating urgency and spurring action? Can it express a compelling vision—and even if it could, would others buy into it? 

I don’t have answers for these questions. But the answers excite me less than the challenge itself: Our writing (and our work as copy and content writers) must become even more human. 

Here are a few practical ideas for doing so: 

  1. Cultivate relationships. Writing, especially in a business context, is about expressing ideas on behalf of a collective: the organization. That involves gathering multiple viewpoints, arriving at fresh insights, articulating shared visions, discussing, editing, refining, and improving an actual piece of written work. All of this takes place within the company of others. It requires trust, respect, and a good practical workflow. In addition to the skill required to lead these sorts of engagements, strong relationships are paramount. Work on developing your human-to-human rapport.
  2. Be more daring. In one Turing-style test, users are challenged to distinguish between responses written by ChatGPT and a child. I got two out of three questions wrong, so I couldn’t really distinguish between the two (neither could Judy Blume). But the kicker? The only thing that gave the child away to me was a mistake: a spelling error. So perhaps we need to make more mistakes—in the sense that we need to be more daring. Take more creative risks. Play with language more—break rules, innovate, and be willing to fail, fail again, and fail better. At the end of the day, it’s our imperfections that make us human.
  3. Think strategically. The role of the writer is changing. It’s not just about putting pretty sentences together. It’s about getting upstream to shape the trajectory of the business: facilitating message generation; building foundational imagery; clarifying stances; identifying causes and crafting arguments to move them forward. We’re increasingly no longer just word-slingers—we now need to use our skills as strategic partners to help a brand articulate who it is, what it stands for, and why it matters.

For businesses and brands, it’s this newly evolving, always-strategic writer that will set them apart. Because now everyone can have ChatGPT. So while churning out articles for SEO purposes or just to “have content marketing,” may still be a necessity, it won’t be a differentiator. The quality of your thought, the depth of your insights, the resonance of your story, the nobility of your cause—these are the areas where your words will need to work harder. 

Businesses that can live into these writing challenges will continue to thrive; those that cannot—or will not—will become increasingly less relevant. To be a true “thought leader,” tired as that term is, will become even more important. That means you have to have thoughts—good thoughts, deep thoughts, thoughts a robot can’t generate—and be able to express those thoughts in fresh, compelling language.

Ultimately, it’s about cultivating a relationship with a reader, heart to heart, mind to mind, soul to soul that rings with truth and echoes common sentiment. This is the work of the writer, and always has been. Only now, with the arrival of ChatGPT, it’s more in demand than ever.

Want to nurture the human touch in your copywriting? Contact us today.

Paul Rosevear

Paul Rosevear

What do you get when you combine the soul of a musician with the mind of a writer? Copy that sings. And for the last decade, that’s precisely what Paul has delivered for global brands, bootstrap startups, and everything in between. When he’s not hard at work crafting top-notch communications, you can find Paul hanging with his wife and two young daughters, singing and playing guitar for The Vice Rags, or roaming the streets in search of the nearest slice of pizza.

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