Only 50% Of Companies Are Using AI When It Comes To Marketing

I first met Jim Lecinski over a decade ago. At that time, he was Vice President, US Sales & Service for Google. What drew me to him then was his book entitled Winning the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) with the moment referring to the “moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world.”

In 2012 I reminded everyone in a Forbes piece that The Zero Moment Of Truth Is Also Mobile. I know that sounds odd now but remember, back in 2012 mobile was still looked on as a luxury of sorts vs. the vital necessity it is today.

Fast-forward to 2019, I reached out to Jim to see if he would do me the honor of being my first interviewee for my new site and he graciously agreed. I titled that piece Why The Zero Moment Of Truth Is Even More Important Today and here’s a sampling of what Jim shared two years ago when it came to the Zero Moment of Truth.

  • “Over time it’s become clear that the notion of ZMOT which we first identified eight years ago has proven accurate, and it continues to be even more important than ever today.”
  • “And now with the emergence of mobile, that pre-shopping evaluation behavior has exploded across all categories not just high stakes high involvement categories like investments or travel.”

Artificially Speaking

In addition to getting his thoughts on ZMOT, I also asked him about any future projects and he told me then about a book project he was working on with Raj Venkatesan, the Ronald Trzcinski Professor of Business Administration in the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.

The subject of the book?

Artificial Intelligence or AI to you and me

In discussing the new book, he told me their plan was to propose a strategic roadmap for marketers to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to marketing because, as he put it, “marketers are increasingly hearing about the importance and potential for what AI & ML might do to transform marketing.”

The way he envisioned it was the book would propose a solution that places the customer at the center of the discussion, a solution designed to help marketing managers leverage AI to do their jobs better, i.e., deliver the amazing, highly personalized customer experiences that will set their brands apart and help them win.

“In short we show how AI can ‘super-charge’ each Moment of Truth in your customer journey, and we provide an “AI Canvas for Marketers” as your playbook or strategic roadmap.”

That Was Then…

The book, entitled The AI Marketing Canvas, A Five-Stage Road Map to Implementing Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, was released in May 2021.

Not long ago Jim was interviewed about the book and its findings by KelloggInsight, a business publication of The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where Jim is currently serving as a clinical associate professor of marketing.

It was in this interview where Jim shared the statistic that inspired – or better still compelled to write this very piece:

“In our research for the book, we found that only about half of companies are doing anything at all related to machine learning in marketing, so a lot of companies are missing that growth. And if that’s the core function of marketing, then they’re delivering suboptimally on the core remit from the CEO, the board, shareholders, and stakeholders.”

I highly recommend you read the full interview where Jim touches on everything from hot sauce to Greek yogurt — yes you read that right.

In the meantime, here are some highlights:

  • “More important (than efficiency or optimization gains) is AI’s ability to drive growth. More and more, CEOs, boards, and marketing departments are viewing marketing as being the chief growth engine charged with making informed-by-data predictions or projections to find the optimal combination of the right product at the right price, promoted in the right way via the right channels to the right people. Big data plus machine learning can, in many cases, make those predictions and drive growth better than humans without data or humans merely assisted by data.”
  • “The strategic question for a company’s marketing leader to ask is, ‘What is it about my business, my brand, my marketing that—if I were able to predict it with much greater fidelity—would unlock a step-change in growth?’ The answer is different for every kind of accompany.”
  • “There’s a widespread misperception that in order to use machine learning in marketing, you have to go from zero to a hundred right away. So that means you go hire an entire floor of Stanford or McCormick Ph.D. data scientists who do everything bespoke for you. They build your own models, write your own code, and so on. But that’s not a best practice.”
  • “My coauthor and I found in talking to a lot of companies at various stages of maturity and experience that you need to start by getting started. Pick a challenge—what is it that, if I could predict it better, could unlock some business results—and then go try it.”

Start By Getting Started

As one who lives a simple life and as such loves to keep things as simple as possible, I absolutely love that line from Jim. Start by getting started.

As to how to get started, Jim addresses that as well diving headfirst into the four concerns he and his co-author identified that keep companies from, at the very least, dipping their marketing toes in the AI/ML pool.

I highly recommend reading the entire interview which can be found here and by all means please share your thoughts with me and my readers.

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