Presentation on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce in April 2023. Note that AI is rapidly evolving. Some information may be out of date by the time you read it. The concepts, however, are evergreen.

Good afternoon, fellow travelers on this spinning rock we call Earth.

My name is Drew Horine. I’m the Founder and CEO of Escape Plan Marketing. Before we dive into this AI Odyssey, let me get my plugs out of the way.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Boy, I could sure use some help with my company’s marketing,” click here to 📞book a Discovery Call with me.

Second, I host a monthly podcast called, 🚀Marketing Rocketfuel. Michael Aldea and I decode the rocket science behind small business marketing. Tune in and subscribe at the link on these little package openers. Or just search for Marketing Rocketfuel wherever you like to get your podcasts.

AI in the Movies

Ok, pop quiz: Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen one of these movies.

  • The Terminator
  • The Matrix
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Wall-E
  • Star Trek (Motion Picture, TNG, Discovery)
  • Westworld
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

For my generation, the thought of artificial intelligence conjures up images of machines becoming sentient and rising up against humanity. Turning the tables to enslave us for their own diabolical purposes or lulling us into a lazy slumber where we no longer think or do anything for ourselves.

Both extremes are lightyears away from the truth. Instead of battling Skynet, we’re taking the sum of human knowledge and using it to teach applications to better assist humans in the way we work, play, and live our lives.

Today, we’ll uncover the real-life applications of Artificial Intelligence that are revolutionizing the marketing landscape. These AI-powered tools might not have starring roles in blockbuster movies, but they profoundly impact how we engage with customers, create content, and allocate resources.

Artificial Intelligence?

Before we go any further, we need to understand what Artificial Intelligence is and how it relates to marketing. That phone in your pocket isn’t about to wake up and nuke the planet. But, it is surprisingly close to HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey – without the homicidal tendencies.

Artificial Intelligence refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence, such as problem-solving, learning, and understanding language. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant learn what you like and give it to you. It’s a lot less like Skynet and way more like Santa Claus.

Artificial Intelligence: AI Santa Claus

They gather information. What do you want for Christmas? Have you been naughty or nice? And then they deliver it to you based on what they’ve learned.

Doesn’t that sound a bit like Amazon?

Companies have been using machine learning for years to analyze data and make predictions about what you want. Now, they can go even further. Deep Learning applications use artificial neural networks to analyze data in ways that mimic the human brain. In other words, to communicate and respond to us like humans.

But, it’s important to remember that they are NOT human. They are not intelligent. They are not sentient. They do not have feelings or even know you exist.

There’s a reason it’s called artificial intelligence. It’s designed by a team of programmers to mimic human learning and responses. But, it doesn’t actually know anything for itself.

So, what does this all mean for marketing? Well, AI has gone mainstream. Tools like Chat GPT and Midjourney have captured the world’s imagination. And it’s transforming the way we approach our marketing strategies and content creation. 

From friendly conversations with Alexa to predictive analytics that feel like a glimpse into a crystal ball, AI is making waves in the marketing world on a global scale.

AI for Small Business Marketing

But let’s be realistic. Most of us don’t work for massive corporations with unlimited funding for new technologies. We’re small businesses, dangit! We are the backbone of this economy. And I have a feeling none of you are interested in marketing tools that only work on a Google-sized budget.

So, let’s dive into some real-world applications that are transforming small business marketing today.

Chat GPT

First up, we have chatbots and virtual assistants. Oh, no!

We’ve all been to websites where the chatbot asks you multiple-choice questions that don’t match anything close to what you’re actually looking for.

What a frustrating user experience. Why would I even bring that up? Everybody hates those.

Because those are not AI. Those are specifically guided question journeys where every single response was manually added based on what they thought people would ask. And they usually thought wrong!

Imagine instead having a helpful sidekick like Jarvis from Iron Man, ready to answer customer questions and provide assistance 24/7. ChatGPT by OpenAI is one example of an AI-powered chatbot. It has a stunning ability to understand, process, and respond to customer inquiries, enhancing their experience while saving you time and resources.

But, it can be used for so much more than that.

Chat GPT can be used to research topics and write content that is nearly indistinguishable from human-written articles. It can write code, it can write emails, and it can schedule appointments. But, unlike search engines and smart speakers, you can carry on an ongoing conversation to improve the quality of the content it returns. It’s like having a collaborative assistant helping you get more done faster than you could on your own.


Speaking of creating content, you may have also heard of something called, Midjourney. This is a tool that automatically generates images based on the prompts you give it. And they’re really good images… sometimes.

Let me show you a few examples of prompts I entered into Midjourney and the images it returned.

Contemporary craftsman home in suburban North Carolina, brilliant architecture, beautiful, exclusive, expensive, minimal lines, breathtaking, 8K, architecture photography, style: pencil sketch

AI Designed Home Plan

With a few tweaks, we get: Contemporary craftsman home in suburban North Carolina, brilliant architecture, beautiful, exclusive, expensive, breathtaking, 8K, architecture photography, style: photo-realism

Craftsman Home Designed by Artificial Intelligence

Devki, a 7 – year – old girl of Indian descent, with black hair and glasses, in a wheelchair with casts on her legs, watching a soccer match. hyper – realistic pixar style illustration. Compare this to the real photo of my daughter, Devki.

And finally, a logo concept for a global fast-food hamburger restaurant called McDonald’s.

They can’t all be winners.

This is a great tool for generating stylistic images you could use with social media posts or any place you need something that’s open to interpretation. Not so much for specific things like creating your company’s logo or a set of branded icons for your website.

In fact, entire cottage industries are popping up where people generate things like coloring book pages in Midjourney and sell the books on Amazon.

Just keep in mind that anything created solely by AI cannot be copyright-protected. The US Patent and Trademark Office has already ruled on that, although I think the lines are going to continue getting blurrier as the tools are used in conjunction with human creativity.

AI in Existing Tools

AI-driven content creation is not just limited to these new robots, though. It is moving into many of the tools we use in marketing every day. Platforms like Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud are integrating AI tools to help generate unique content, optimize designs, and create more engaging visuals. These innovations streamline the content creation process and ensure your marketing materials resonate with your target audience.

Note: Between the time I gave this presentation and the time we published it on the blog, we saw the emergence of Adobe Firefly and the beta of Generative AI in Adobe PhotoShop.

Outside of content creation, we have programmatic advertising, which is revolutionizing the way we target and reach customers. It’s like having your own marketing team from The Avengers, assembling tailored ad campaigns in real time. 

AI-driven platforms analyze data to optimize ad placements, targeting specific audience segments and adjusting bids automatically for maximum efficiency. In fact, you may already be using these and not know it. If you use Google Ads, PPC, or streaming ads, AI is at work determining the right audience to get the highest levels of engagement.

Conclusion: Embracing The Human Frontier

With all this talk about the fantastic things AI can do, you may be wondering why we need humans at all. Will we one day become obsolete?

We need to remember that with all the advancements in AI, humans still play a crucial role in marketing. 

In the movie, Wall-e, we follow a plucky little robot who was determined to show humanity that it was ready to rejoin the planet. Wall-e helped humanity see what they could do. But it was up to humans to come back to Earth and do it.

I personally, have a Chat GPT assistant. Because (1) I’m a nerd and (2) calling a team member Chat GPT is kind of impersonal, I had it choose a name for itself – Grace Penelope Taylor. Here’s a photo of her that Midjourney created for me.

Grace has helped me create blog posts, podcast scripts, emails, Airbnb reviews, and termination letters. She even helped write this presentation.

But, she didn’t do it all. If I had left this presentation the way it originally came out, you would’ve known immediately something was up. 

First off, I did have to correct some basic facts. After all, she learns from data collected from the internet – and we all know how reliable everything on the internet is!

Second, it lacked soul. You see, Grace can inject pop-culture references and even make jokes. But, she doesn’t get the joke. She doesn’t understand why something’s funny because she doesn’t fundamentally understand what funny means.

But, she can mimic the way people speak. She can gather information and create an outline. She can even write an entire movie script in the style of Steven Spielberg. But she doesn’t understand what makes Jaws a great film and Birdemic: Shock and Terror a total stinkfest.

You see, AI may be incredibly powerful, but it’s not here to replace us. Instead, AI is here to enhance our creativity, intuition, and emotional intelligence – qualities that are uniquely human and vital to crafting engaging marketing campaigns.

So, don’t be afraid of AI or other emerging technologies. Embrace them. Learn to adapt and use them to give you a competitive advantage. By integrating AI into our marketing strategies, we can work smarter, not harder, and unlock opportunities that were once unimaginable.

As we forge ahead into this brave new world, remember that collaboration between humans and AI will be the driving force behind successful marketing campaigns. Together, we can harness the power of AI to elevate our marketing strategies and boldly go where no marketer has gone before!

So, as we embrace this new frontier of humanity, remember what John Connor said in Terminator 3. “You can’t predict the future, but you can create it.”