One of the benefits of being in business for 50-plus years is that you get to see the cycles. And the odd thing about cycles is that few seem to see them starting or ending…. not even the smartest people.
I don’t know why that is. Why didn’t we see the stock market crashes or run-ups? Why didn’t we see the internet of everything? Why didn’t we see the rise of social media? (If you did, you bought and held Facebook at the IPO) Why didn’t we see the dominance (and risk) of Tik Tok? Why do we still refuse to act in our own best interest with climate change? Do we see how AI is already changing all the rules, all the norms?
AI is about to become the paradigm of all things, just like the internet was in the early 2000s. AI is going to penetrate and change the DNA of our life. AI is going to replace authenticity with creative replication.
Now when someone writes a book, we honor them for their ingenuity, creativity, courage, and work ethic. We have respect for them for doing something few people have ever done. We are in awe of their authority. AI will replace all of that with nothing. Any idiot will now write 100 books because they won’t. AI will do it for them.
AI will create art and make it meaningless and valueless.
AI will create code, apps, software, business plans, movies, products, textbooks, well, just about everything.
Is AI a cycle… a trend? Sure, with perhaps permanent implications.
But most of us just get run over by these trends.
Perhaps the thing that will change us the most is marketing.
All marketing is based on trust. We see an ad, we trust they are telling the truth, or we trust they are lying as usual. Trust is not an ethical thing. It cuts both ways. I trust some of my business connections to screw me over without giving it a thought. They have earned that trust.
Trust is simply what is earned by being predictable. Trust allows us to make choices based on that predictability.
Marketing primarily relies on credible, believable, compelling, and authentic storytelling. Someone tells us about a product, and we believe them. It might be a celebrity, influencer, no-name actor, or real person.
AI will replace all those high-maintenance, high-paid pitch people with fakes or frauds. Why? Because it can, for virtually nothing. Will it be illegal? Probably, but that will not stop it. Uber and AirBnB were illegal. Uber is the Kleenex of transportation. Airbnb has more rooms for rent than all hotel rooms worldwide combined. Nothing can stop an idea; that’s time has come.
But what happens when even the most convincing stories turn out not to be true? What happens when what we learn to trust is that “nothing is true” anymore? What happens when the concept of authenticity is bankrupt? What happens when everything we see online, on social, on TV cannot be trusted to be authentic?
Perhaps the most significant trend AI will thwart is social media. Social Media relies on us trusting that what we see is real and what we are learning is true. We have already experienced what QAnon and social media can do with the truth…. making it a non-concept. All one must do is repeat something false a billion times, and people decide false is true—even smart people.
AI will do the same for social media, rendering it irrelevant at best and a joke at worst. People will get bored with the BS, the fake videos, the deception, and rampant “marketing on crack” and move on. To what?
Maybe, just maybe, we will move on back to where we started in marketing. One person we know telling us a story, we believe because they are right in front of us in the flesh, or at least in our own Zoom room. Maybe we will flee back to the known, the safe, the trusted form of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, person to person, friend to friend.
It is early yet. There is still a ton of momentum in social selling. But by the time you notice there isn’t anymore, you will have missed it…. again.
I have never predicted the cycles well. I probably am wrong about this. Maybe I didn’t even write it. Perhaps I am not even who you think I am. You don’t know. How does that feel?