In today’s digital landscape, I often tell my students and clients that success lies in identifying future trends and taking small steps to prepare for them without losing focus on their current marketing strategy. One upcoming shift is the impact of AI on content marketing. However, many marketers are overlooking a nuance in this shift, which could lead to pitfalls in the future. In this this blog, I’ll explore the shift from third-person transformational marketing to first-person transformational marketing and discuss how to avoid the common mistakes that could easily come along with AI implementation.
Understanding the Transformation. Traditionally, marketing focused on product features and information, neglecting the power of transformational moments. With the advent of the internet and reality TV, marketers realized the impact of consumers seeing others experience the transformation they desired. Marketers shifted their approach to emphasize how their products could make consumers happy, provide a sense of belonging, and create shared human experiences through third party actors and influencers. This marked a transition from information-based content to transformation-based content.
Moving from Third- to First-Person Transformation. While many marketers now use third-party transformation strategies, the challenge will be in shifting the transformation from third- to first-person. In other words, how can we use AI to create transformative experiences directly for consumers? This is a tough problem to solve, but there are some neat ideas already out there…
Learning from Lululemon. Lululemon, for instance, strategically places folding tables by their fitting rooms instead of the back stockroom. This allows their associates to gather real-time feedback from consumers about which clothes they like and why, when they plan to wear the clothes (maybe they are about to run a 5K), and how the clothes make them feel (maybe they feel stylish wearing a seasonal color). Lululemon associates are required to submit information they hear to R&D so that Lululemon can improve its products. Within the next few years, though, these insights will be incredibly valuable when applied to first-person immersive experiences using AI. For example, instead of a chatbot identifying the color and material of what a consumer is trying on, it could simulate the customer crossing the finish line of a 5K in the clothes they are trying on, letting them feel the transformation they are imagining.
AI and the Transformational Moment. Despite the automated features for immersive experiences, such as predictive analytics and real-time chatbots, I fear that these capabilities may miss the core reason why people make purchases—the transformational moment. It will be important to remember that AI’s algorithmic nature often leads to conversations centered around product features rather than the benefits or transformation it offers… a marketing practice we’ve taught students and professionals to abandon for years. Consumers don’t want to miss that 5K moment and human marketers may have to step in to program that.
How do we prepare and fix this? I recommend marketers start formalizing ways to immerse themselves in their consumers’ experiences. Find the equivalent of Lululemon’s folding table for your business, whether it’s asking detailed questions more frequently or formalizing a system to report on natural conversations during demos, test drives, open houses, consultations, and similar interactions. By taking this approach and finding first-party transformative moments, you will be better prepared for the future integration of AI, enabling your customers to experience the same transformative moments they currently encounter in third-party marketing. Ultimately, this investment in consumer experience will pay off in conversions.
In other words, with a little preparation, you can avoid falling into the features trap and potentially maximize the benefits AI has to offer.
I want to hear about the consumer observation systems you put in place to prepare… let me know at [email protected]