Episode 326:

There’s no denying that artificial intelligence isn’t just part of the future, it’s here today. But the concept is overwhelming for many agency owners. It’s hard to know where to begin when you don’t even know what questions to ask or how to find answers, especially when you are already pulled in so many directions every day. Who has time to add learning something as complex as AI to their TO-DO list?

After running her own agency and then spending a decade at Content Marketing Institute, Cathy McPhillips joined the Marketing AI Institute earlier this year as the Chief Growth Officer. She comes at AI through a marketing-practitioner’s lens which gives her a more approachable perspective for people who might be curious but confused by AI.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Cathy and I give a beginner’s overview of the crossroads where marketing meets artificial intelligence. We look at the ways to approach AI, how agencies are using it, and the tools that make dipping your toes in the water manageable, clear, and helpful without a huge time commitment. It’s the goal of this conversation that you will leave feeling inspired to take your first steps into understanding the potential of marketing AI.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Marketing AI

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Two ways to approach AI
  • The purpose and goal of the Marketing AI Institute
  • What agencies are looking for in terms of AI
  • How AI can help with efficiency
  • The difference between marketing automation and AI
  • Why AI can never fully replace the need for people
  • Some tools available to get started with AI
  • The easiest first step
“I’ve learned that AI isn’t as unobtainable as I thought it was.” @cmcphillips Click To Tweet “There are two ways to approach AI: the problem-based way, and the use-case way.” @cmcphillips Click To Tweet “If your CMO comes to you and says they just saved eight hours writing copy, you don’t care that it was done with AI, you just care that he saved eight hours. So give your employees the freedom to try out new things.” @cmcphillips Click To Tweet “Content creation is a very easy, tangible place to start with AI.” @cmcphillips Click To Tweet “You don’t need to know how a car works to drive a car. You just need to get from Point A to Point B.” @cmcphillips Click To Tweet “Where’s the time suck? How can we make it smaller? And is there a tool that can help us?” @cmcphillips Click To Tweet

Intro to AI for Marketers: https://www.marketingaiinstitute.com/intro-to-ai-for-marketers

Ways to Contact Cathy McPhillips:

Additional Resources:

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits, too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency Podcast, presented by White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to midsize agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road, sellable. With 25-plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody, Drew McClellan here from Agency Management Institute. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Today, we are going to talk about AI, but from a different perspective. So I’ll tell you a little bit more about that in a second. Just really quickly, I want to remind you that the Build a Better Agency Summit, we had the first one in August of 2021, the 2022 version is May 24th and 25th. If you’re an AMI member, family day is the 23rd. And tickets are going fast. And so, if you are looking for a way to spend down some dollars as you wrap up the year, maybe grabbing your ticket before the prices go up would be a good idea.

Drew McLellan:

I have some amazing speakers. We’re going to be talking about out how to leverage community for your clients and for your agency. We’re going to talk about innovation. We’re going to talk about building trust inside your organization and trust inside your client relationships so that that trust serves you well long term. We are going to talk about where we as agency owners get a little bit complacent, and how we put our agencies at risk and how to make sure we don’t do that anymore. We are going to talk about imposter syndrome. We’ve got all kinds of amazing speakers, as always.

Drew McLellan:

Great speakers, great other agency owners to network with. And I would love for you to join us. If you’re interested, head over to the Agency Management Institute website. In the upper left corner, you’ll see the BABA Summit. Click on it, and you can register right now before the tickets prices go up or before you’re using 2022 dollars. We’d love to have you join us.

Drew McLellan:

All right. Let me tell you a little bit about my guest today. Many of you are familiar with Cathy MCPhillips. Cathy has been a steady influence, a constant at Content Marketing Institute for over a decade. She joined the Marketing AI Institute in the spring of 2021, and has a new role there now. I asked her to come on the show and talk about from her perspective as a layperson, not somebody who has a deep, deep knowledge of AI and is not a data geek or an expert in it, but somebody who’s surrounded by it every day in her organization and also using it, and also interacting with agencies who are using it. I just wanted to get her perspective on, how do we get started? And so I think this is going to be a fascinating conversation and I am anxious to get into it. So let’s go.

Drew McLellan:

Cathy, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us this morning.

Cathy McPhillips:

This is bright and early. This is great.

Drew McLellan:

It is bright and early. And as I said to you yesterday, other than for you, I’m not sure I would be up this early, but yes, it is great. I’m glad to spend the time with you. So thanks for doing it. And especially, thanks for too it for doing it right before the holidays. I appreciate.

Cathy McPhillips:

Oh, absolutely. Nice way to ease into the weekend.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. The long weekend. Give everybody a little sense of your background. You come from agency stock and you’ve done some interesting things, and this is a relatively new position for you. So let’s give everybody your career trajectory.

Cathy McPhillips:

Sure. I knew in college, I wanted to go into advertising. I knew in high school I wanted to go into advertising. And my first job out of college, I knew I wanted to be in media doing planning, and the first job I could find was in production, so I took it. I did that for a little while and I did end up getting a job in media. So I was at two agencies in Cleveland. And then started my own business in 1999, which seems like an eon ago. And did that for about 12 years. And then met Joe Pulizzi. So then I went to the Content Marketing Institute for almost a decade. And then in the past year, I’ve known Paul Roetzer who owns the agency PR 20/20 and the Marketing AI Institute, and I started working with him just this past May. So just about six or seven months, I can’t do math this early.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I’m totally with you on that. So working with Joe as Content Marketing Institute became a thing. And now with the Marketing AI Institute, it seems like you’re… And maybe this is part of what drew you to advertising too, it seems like you like to help grow and create things, because it certainly, in your current job and your last job, you sort of had a tiger by the tail.

Cathy McPhillips:

I think a lot of that was just timing on my part, convenient timing, coincidental and serendipitous timing on my part. It’s exciting to be in this place where I can be a little bit… Paul’s been doing the AI stuff for five years, but it’s still early in so many cases that it’s nice to… I’m learning as I’m going both as a marketer and for the company, and as the marketer myself, I’m learning as I’m going along. And to be able to share that knowledge with other marketers and other agencies and things like that, It’s been really nice to say, “I understand your terminology, I understand your struggles, your challenges.” And not that Paul and Mike don’t, but t’s just a different lens I’m looking through.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Well, as you and I talked, it’s one of the reasons why I wanted you on the show, is because you come at it from that marketer’s practitioner’s lens. I think a lot of the listeners are in a place where they’re like, “I keep hearing about AI, I know it’s a thing. I know it’s a thing I don’t know as much about as I should, but I don’t even really know where to jump in.” And so, a lot of what I want to chat with you about is, how are you seeing agencies explore and experiment with this? And obviously, the institute has some incredible tools and resources and events that I think a lot of agencies, it’s just not on their radar screen yet.

Drew McLellan:

And so I want to make sure we talk about all that too. Paul’s amazing, but I think Paul eats, breathe and sleeps this stuff.

Cathy McPhillips:

And drives.

Drew McLellan:

And drives it. He has a depth of knowledge that is staggering, but in some ways, it’s almost overwhelming because you feel like I can never catch up. Every time he talks, I’m like, “Oh my God, I will never catch up to what this man knows about this.” So I think you coming at it from more of a lay position and being amongst the agency clients that you guys serve just is a different perspective.

Cathy McPhillips:

Yeah. It’s interesting just to dive with some tools and things myself as a user, like you said, as a practitioner, and saying, “Oh, this isn’t as unattainable as I thought it was.” I have learned so much. Sometimes it’s just giving it a shot, downloading something, a free two-week trial, and seeing and saying, “Oh my gosh, this just saved me eight hours.” And just seeing how that fits into my life.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Again, I think agency owners and leaders are still trying to even figure out, how do they categorize AI? Is it efficiency tool? Is it a effectiveness tool? Is it a scaled tool? Is it all of those things? And it probably is, depending on the tool. I’m curious about the ones that… When you and I were talking yesterday, we were saying that a lot of people seem to dip their toe in the water for the first time with AI around copywriting, some machine learning, generated language. I know you had said you had played around with a little bit of that. So can you talk a little bit about how you’ve experimented with that?

Cathy McPhillips:

Sure. I’m going to back up just a second. One of the things I’ve learned, because I learn every day is there are two ways to approach AI. There is the problem-based way and there’s the use case based. A problem-based case would be something like one of your clients, their email open rates just have tanked, and you just don’t know what to do. And you’ve tried X, Y, and Z, and it’s not working. And you just need to figure out a way, “How can a machine help me do this?” So that’s a bigger process of figuring out, finding a tool that can do a bunch of different things for you that the human just isn’t able to analyze the way a machine can. The other way, the way that I’m using it right now is more use case based.

Cathy McPhillips:

And in one instance, I needed to create social media copy, email copy for our big event, MAICON, which happens every summer. And I downloaded this tool, Copy.ai, and they give you a free two-week trial and I’m like, “I’m just going to try it and see what happens.” And so I plugged in a 100-word description and I entered the URL of our website of the event and clicked button. And I got probably over 100 different length, different approaches of copy. And I liked two things about it. One, obviously, how fast it was. And two, in all my years of writing, I write how I speak. I write and it sounds like me, and the machine didn’t sound like me, which was both good and bad.

Cathy McPhillips:

The first post I looked at, I’m like, “Hmm, it makes sense, but it doesn’t make sense for the language of the company, for the tone of right of me since my signature’s on it.” But what I did like was there were some instances where I’m like, “Gosh, that’s just such a different way to approach how we talk about our event. And I wonder if that would resonate differently with our audience. I’m going to give it this a shot. So maybe I A/B split some copy and I just see which one’s getting better opens, which one’s getting better conversions.” And it was really easy.

Cathy McPhillips:

Backing up a little bit, when I was going through some of the copy, if it didn’t make sense, like the first one, for example, I went through and I made some changes there, the machine saw what I did and then it changed the rest of the copy on the remaining 99-plus post. So the machine watched what I did and learned from me and made the other ones better. And I think that’s the the AI at play. The AI is learning what I am doing and it’s giving me better results again the next time. And I don’t need to know as a marketer or as an agency that that’s AI that helped me, I just need to know that it helped me.

Cathy McPhillips:

And I think that’s where marketers hear this word, and guilty, I’m one of the people. A year ago, two years ago before Paul and I started talking about me coming to work for him, I was in the same boat. It just sounds like artificial intelligence, it’s robots. It’s sci-fi. It’s something that I don’t want to do, I don’t want to learn.

Drew McLellan:

Well, it sounds super complicated.

Cathy McPhillips:

It sounds super complicated. Then the other side of it is, is that I pride myself on being very community driven, very personal with my customers, and what’s that going to take away? And it didn’t, it didn’t take away anything. It just took away a lot of hours off my plate. And that’s just one use case of money. You can A/B split subject lines, you could do different versions of creative, different sizes of creative. So it’s not there to replace your job, it’s just there to save you time and be more efficient with your time. And that those hours that I saved writing all that MAICON copy and cutting down all those hours, I picked up the phone and I started calling some customers and scheduling interviews because I said, “I’m not going to waste one second of that time I saved, how could I better use this time in my job?”

Cathy McPhillips:

So I scheduled five interviews with customers and said, “Are you reading our stuff? What’s working, what’s not working? What else can we provide for you?” And that’s so valuable to our brand, and to them. I just probably got five more people-

Drew McLellan:

And that, by the way, is something a machine cannot do for us, right?

Cathy McPhillips:

And it never will be able to. I know that’s one of the things we say, is AI won’t replace you, AI gives you time to be strategic, creative, build a brand culture, build a community culture, build a community, and that’s what the technology is there to help you with, take all those repetitive rote tasks, the data-driven tasks off your plate to a degree. The human has to be involved, even in the analytics, in a lot of the data side, there needs to be someone on the other end looking at what the AI is producing.

Drew McLellan:

Given your role in the institute… Well, let’s back up. Paul answered this question when he was on the show, but I’m curious from your perspective, what is the institute? What is the purpose of the institute? And why did he start it, do you think?

Cathy McPhillips:

Well, I think he started it for a couple reasons. One, because he was very interested and he said, “This might be a thing. I think this has some legs.” But I think the other side of it was showing marketers this actually… I think a little and I thought about this with CMI too, it’s a little bit like a nonprofit in a weird way where they really just truly want to help people be better at their jobs and be happier in their lives. Obviously, we’re monetizing things like our academy program and our event, but ultimately, it’s just, “Do marketers know this thing exists?” Whether you use AI power tools or not, just at least know it’s an option for you.

Cathy McPhillips:

So just advancing the industry, letting marketers know that this isn’t just going to be a part of marketing, it’s going to become marketing at some point. And let’s get in on the forefront and teach the marketers how they can do this. But also there’s this whole ethical, moral side of things like, are these tools using AI the right way? Are people using the tools or using AI the right way? Because it could go south. Something’s always ruined by someone or something. And how can we make sure that everything that we’re doing is good for mankind, is good for our industry and doesn’t give marketers a bad name? That’s what I was saying. Anything we’re inputting into the computer, the machine learns from us, but we need to recognize our own biases, the data biases that we have if we don’t have a complete data set and we’re trying to learn.

Cathy McPhillips:

We just need to make sure that we’re feeding the machine the information that it needs. And if not, how can we change that? Or how can we at least take the output and make it something that is better?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s interesting. I had never really thought about it before, but you’re right. CMI and the Marketing AI Institute actually align very much with how AMI operates, which is, we serve this community and we care about this community. And yes, there are ways to make money at it, but it’s really driven by a desire to build and serve a group of people that you care about. And make them better.

Cathy McPhillips:

Right, and then make them better. Coming off of two years working with a nonprofit, it was really hard for me to leave that nonprofit to go work for CMI. I started with CMI in a consulting role, just saying, “I like having my own business, I like having my clients.” And then once I saw the way CMI was run, aside from the fact that Joe and Pam are just amazing human beings-

Drew McLellan:

Right, they are.

Cathy McPhillips:

… and family came first, and that’s how Paul is too. I’m like, “This actually is run in a way that it’s built to help people, and that’s how I work. That’s what makes me wake up in the morning and be happy to go to my job, is knowing that I’m helping someone do their job better.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I think it’s a great way to approach the work. So given that, what are you seeing? When you interact with the agency clients that are a part of the institute in some way… Don’t let me forget, I want to go back and I want to talk about the academy for sure and also the event that you guys are running, the big entry level event. When somebody literally or figuratively walks in the door or knocks on the door, what are they looking for? What are agencies looking for right now in terms of AI and how you guys can help them? What I’m thinking is, I think every agency owner right now believes they’re behind, like, “I don’t know as much about a as I should. We’re not using it as much.”

Drew McLellan:

And what I’m wondering is, is everybody behind? I feel like we’re all in the kitty pool still, splashing around just trying to figure it out. And I think everyone thinks they’re are there by themselves and their competitors are super far ahead. But I wonder from your perspective, if that’s true.

Cathy McPhillips:

I think we’re all in the same boat. We’re all just like, “Okay, I don’t know where to start. What is AI?” I think so many people are still in that beginning stage. Interestingly, last week I put a poll on our LinkedIn page, our business LinkedIn page-

Drew McLellan:

Oh, I saw that.

Cathy McPhillips:

And I could see on the backend how people responded and who those people were. And there were CEOs, owners, some high, high level people that they checked the, “I don’t know how to get started.” It wasn’t even, “I don’t have time,” it was, “I don’t know how to get started.”

Drew McLellan:

So the question was basically, where are you? Right?

Cathy McPhillips:

It was, gosh, I don’t remember exactly how I worded it, but, “What’s prohibiting you from using AI power technology?” And it was, I don’t know how to get started, I can’t get buy-in, or I don’t have time to find the right technology for me. And most of the people selected, I don’t know how to get started. And now we’re working on something else right now, working to find some CMOs for our event, can we get some CMOs to come to our event about how they’re using AI? And I think even CMOs, I think they’re more in the camp of, I don’t have time, I don’t have time to stop my role and all these people that I’m managing, everything that I’m doing to figure out how to pilot AI. But really, it was, how do I start?

Cathy McPhillips:

That goes back to the use case model, which I’m circling back to. To answer your question is, agencies, if they can just find something that they can start with. And that’s what we’ve been telling CMOs is, you don’t need to know what… If your marketing manager at your agency came to you and said, “I just saved eight hours writing copy,” you don’t care that it’s AI, you’re just happy they saved eight hours. So it’s giving your employees the freedom to test out new things, to try some new approaches, to do some things that will help them do their job better, faster, more efficiently, which saves billable hours or gets those billable hours used towards some something different, better, more.

Cathy McPhillips:

There are some tools that agencies are using. From an analytics standpoint, if you’re doing paid media, you could use an AI powered tool that can analyze, that can optimize, that can do all that stuff for you. There are other tools that could do that, but what the AI is doing is it’s watching what is happening and making the changes on its own, where some tools that aren’t AI powered, I’m going in every day and checking and clicking and moving budgets around and doing things like that is very human driven. And the AI is doing it for me. And sure, I need to go in and check it, but again, that’s just hours. I’ve bought paid media as part of my job, and it’s a time suck.

Cathy McPhillips:

And then sometimes I forget or I just get caught up in something else and I don’t, and I’m like, oh my gosh, we just lost a week because I didn’t go and optimized things. Could we have gotten more conversions? Should I have shifted more money towards the Facebook ads that were converting better than the LinkedIn ads and I kept on 50-50? What would’ve happened if I would’ve done that? I can do that for you. So, just from that side of things, it’s better for your customers, it’s better for me, it’s better for the company just to have that technology that they can do that. So that’s one big use case, I think, for agencies.

Cathy McPhillips:

And even from the business development side of things, I think there’s tools that AI can help looking at your funnel of brands you’re going to for clients and whittling that down to, “Here’s the people you should be focusing at first. Here’s where they are in the funnel. Here’s their lead score.” And it’s a lot of the things I said you can do manually, but AI’s just going to help you do it faster.

Drew McLellan:

Well, lead score is a great example. I think most agencies are using some sort of lead score tool on the back end of their website or a client’s website, but we don’t really think about that as being AI, we just think that it’s data that we get. So I think sometimes we let ourselves get more intimidated than we need to be and recognize that we’re actually already using some of it.

Cathy McPhillips:

Right. And you are, I’m sure of that. One of the first questions I asked Mike Kaput, who’s our chief content officer is, day one, I’m like, “Okay, what’s the difference between marketing automation and AI?” And he just said, “AI’s just doing it for you.” There’s marketing automation tools and there’s marketing automation tools that are AI powered, and it’s just doing it better, it’s doing it more efficiently. And I guarantee that there are some tools that people are using that they don’t even know that AI is helping them. I ask a lot of questions at work. I said, “When you go to onboard of technology or you’re looking at these technology companies and you say, ‘Okay, we need a marketing automation tool, for example, or we need a data analytics tool.’ What kind of questions do you ask the sales person to say, is there AI behind this or does it learn every single time? Is it doing it better?”

Cathy McPhillips:

And Paul said, “If your marketing person can’t answer that question, it probably isn’t. If you switched and said in a different department? Can I talk to product?” The marketing people at that point or the sales people really should know more about their product.

Cathy McPhillips:

It’s hard that’s one of the things we talked about, I’m like, “Should we put together?” We’re still learning as we go, but is there like a checklist we could build with questions that agencies and brands could ask when they go to talk to these technology partners just to give them a starting point? As anything, a checklist is just a starting point for you to build out to what works for you. But what are some of those questions that we can ask the technology partners as we consider using them?

Drew McLellan:

I’m going to say this, and then I want to take a break and then we’ll come back to it. But I think that’s one of the things agencies are looking for, is somebody to go, “Here are the seven tools you should use, and you should use them in this order because of this.” They want the CliffsNotes for AI as opposed to having the splash around in the water. So I want to come back and talk about some of the ways you guys have created CliffsNotes or cheats or helps for agencies. But first, let’s take a quick break and then we’ll come back to… And for all of you under 40, Google CliffsNotes, because I don’t think they exist anymore, but they got me through college. All right, we’ll be right back.

Drew McLellan:

I know you did not want to break away from the show, but I had to tell you about this workshop that’s coming up soon. One of my favorite workshops to teach is money matters, and it will be in December, on December 9th and 10th in Orlando, Florida on beautiful Disney property. Here’s why I love teaching this workshop. It is all about money for two days, that’s all we talk about. And we talk about how you can make more money, how you can keep more the money you make and how you can grow the agency’s bottom line and your own personal wealth. I love teaching this stuff.

Drew McLellan:

There is not a time I have taught this workshop that somebody doesn’t walk up to me and say, “You know what Drew, I wish I had been here 20 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, I could have made so much more money.” And not what I say to them is, “I know, but you’re here now. So let’s put it into play.” but here’s what I’m going to say to you, “Don’t wait another five years to attend this workshop.” I promise you, it is worth its weight and gold. And as always, we have a money-back guarantee. So come join me December 9th in Orlando for money matters. All right, let’s get back to the show.

Drew McLellan:

All right. We are back and we are talking about AI. So just a quick aside. I was an English lit minor. So CliffNotes were a big part of my college career. So there you have that. Let’s talk a little bit about the institute, some of the tools that you guys have and some of the offerings that you have, because I think I am a huge fan of the academy. I think the content and the depth of it is really spectacular, but I think a lot of people don’t know really. I think a lot of people are beginning to know, really the institute hasn’t been around that long, what?

Cathy McPhillips:

Almost five years.

Drew McLellan:

MAICON is what, on year three?

Cathy McPhillips:

This will be year three, correct.

Drew McLellan:

With a break for COVID obviously like for most folks. And I will say, I attended the very first MAICON that was in-person and it was a spectacular conference. And every agency I know that went was back for year two and back every time. And even this last year, you guys had it virtually and people raved about the event. So I think one thing that the institute is doing well is the event is really geared brilliantly for people who are hungry to learn more, who are eager to bump into and talk to other people who are, as we say, splashing around in the pool, they are, but what else is going on? How are all the ways that you guys are helping agencies and brands because you’re not just agency centric, learn more about this?

Cathy McPhillips:

We’ve got a couple different things. We have our big event, like you said, MAICON, it’s happening August third through the fifth, 2022. If you’re listening to this soon, and that’s in Cleveland, Ohio. And then we have our academy program and our academy program is built around some core lessons of what is AI, how do you get started, how do you pilot a use case and things like that. And then there are five certifications where if you want to get certified in various things, you could do that as well. And then you could also do MAICON and the academy. There’s lots of different ways to get involved.

Cathy McPhillips:

But we just started something a few weeks ago where it’s our intro to AI for marketers, and it’s a 30-minute live webinar style class that Paul is teaching and I’m on doing Q&A with him. And basically it’s just give me 30 minutes of your life just so we can say to you, “Here’s what it is. And here’s how you can get started.” And then we have all these things, we’ve got our blog every day, we’ve got webinars. It’s just so much stuff, but I think it’s too much sometimes for someone like an agency marketer or a brand marketer to say, “I don’t need all this stuff. I just need you to give me a little. Give me a little primer on how to get started.”

Drew McLellan:

I need a tidbit.

Cathy McPhillips:

Yes. I just need a tidbit. And it makes it less overwhelming and say like, “Okay, I can give you 30 minutes and take it or leave it from there.” So we’re starting with this intro to AI series and it’s a long URL, but if you go to our website, marketingaiinstitute.com, you should get a pop up that tells you what our next one is. And it’s a great way to get started, and then you could then buy the piloting AI program for a very low fee, you could buy the academy, which a lot of that stuff is bundled in there together. Paul’s out speaking as much as he can and we’re trying to get the word out more, but really we’re backing up to the point of, instead of giving you all this stuff, it’s, let’s talk about specific use cases.

Cathy McPhillips:

Actually yesterday I was talking to Paul and after the first intro to AI, I put together a quick two-minute teaser video that I put on YouTube telling people, “Here’s a little bit about it. And then go register for our next one.” And I downloaded the Zoom video into Descript, which is an AI powered video tool. It transcribed, I edited the video within there, which was not AI, that was me clunkily editing a video, but it did transcribe it for me. That’s AI. I then downloaded that two-minute video, uploaded it into YouTube. And I cut the transcript from the script, put it into YouTube, YouTube read what I did in the transcript, aligned it with the video. So I didn’t need to go through and say when Paul was saying what he was saying, I didn’t have to go through that.

Drew McLellan:

And the words lined up with his mouth, right?

Cathy McPhillips:

Yeah. That’s AI. So I’m like, “I’m writing a blog post about how I used AI four times yesterday and didn’t even realize that I used AI four times.” Because I think that’s going to get people to understand more, “Okay, I’m using this, how can I be using it better? And how can I be using it in a more conscious way that I’m actually using these right tools?” So it’s just things like that we just want to make sure that there we can explain to people, “Here are some basic use cases.” And then of course, as we go, “Here are some more advanced use cases. And here’s how you can do this to save your agency time and money.”

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I think in some cases, it’s just, “Here’s a tool that you didn’t even know existed.” I think some of the service that you guys provide, if you want to play with copywriting AI tools, here’s two of them to try.

Cathy McPhillips:

Yes. And we do have some pillar pages on our website where you put in the search bar on the website, AI and advertising, you’ll get a litany of 10 different tools you can use depending on what you’re looking at achieving. And I told you yesterday, there was this one tool that I haven’t used them because they are pretty enterprise geared translation out of our budget. But what they do is you can plug in or 728 by 90 banner ad and you say, “Okay, I need a Facebook size, LinkedIn size,” because of course Facebook and LinkedIn are like a fraction of a difference.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right. Three pixels [inaudible 00:31:13].

Cathy McPhillips:

Yes. But you need two different version. And then 300 by 250s mobile banner ads, etc, etc. And you can plug in that one ad and it’ll resize them all for you, which other tools can do, even Canva can do something like that. But what Celtra does is so you go into Celtra and you have all your versions ready to go, but then you can go in, you can move your logo over, you can change the background color, you could change the font to your brand, all these different things. And what Celtra did is it learns the changes you made so that tomorrow when you do another version of some ads, it’ll make those tweaks before you even get to them.

Cathy McPhillips:

So it’s learning your preference, it’s learning how you what your brand look is, what your brand feel is, or just your personal preference. So it’s just interesting, and that’s just is a big time saver from a creative standpoint.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. If you were an agency person, and again, it might not be an owner or leader, it might be a creative director, it might be a director of account service, somebody like that, where would you dip your toe in first? Given everything the institute does, and let’s say you’re feeling like your LinkedIn poll, which is, “Yeah. I don’t even know where to start.” Where now that you’ve been there since May, where would you start?

Cathy McPhillips:

I would start with our intro to AI, honestly. I think it’s just a very, very good, help me just understand what this means and what this means for my job. I think that’s a great place to start. And like I said, if you just go onto our website and just look in the search bar, I could send you some links to include on your website or on show notes.

Drew McLellan:

We’ll put them in the show notes. Yep.

Cathy McPhillips:

Just so many of the tools right now have free two week trials, even off work hours, just go play around with something for an hour and just see. And I get it creatives don’t want something that AI has produced, they don’t want copy that AI has is produced, but so much time that I’ve spent before writing a blog post, thinking about writing a copy and I’m like, “Okay, I just need to go for a walk because I can’t, I’m not in the right mindset it right now of trying to do that, I’m not in my creative space.” But even if it’s bad copy that AI’s producing, what bad copy might spark you to give you some creative idea?

Drew McLellan:

Well, and by the way, we use that technique long before AI. As a writer, that’s my modus operandi is going to just write some stuff, it’s going to suck, but I can then take pieces and bits of it and fix it over time. This is a pre-AI methodology that you’re suggesting, you are just using the machine as well now.

Cathy McPhillips:

I think it’s a very easy, tangible place to start is looking at content creation, whether it’s social copywriting, blog posts, anything like that. We wrote a blog post using an AI tool and 90% of it was written by AI and a Mike went in and cleaned it up. We’re trying to do more of that, I hate the phrase, eat I own dog food, but we are. We’re trying to say if we’re telling people to go do this, we’re going to start trying just some more use cases internally just to see what’s working and what’s not. And if it’s not, is it the tool or is it what we’re inputting into it?

Drew McLellan:

But again, I think it’s heartening for people to hear that you guys, the experts are still experimenting too. I think there’s this misnomer that I the agency owner or leader I’m so far behind that I can’t catch up because everybody else is really good at this. I think there are certainly brands and agencies that are further along in terms of using some of these tools, but, A, there’s a new tool every day. And B, I think everybody is still in the experimentation stage, which I’m hoping is calming for our listeners to go, “Okay. Yes, I’m still splashing in the kitty pool, but everybody’s in the pool.”

Cathy McPhillips:

Everybody’s in the pool. They really are.

Drew McLellan:

So you would start with the intro piece, right?

Cathy McPhillips:

I would. And what I like about that, again, I might be spinning a circle talking about this, but is that it takes away that you don’t need to know that it’s AI and you don’t need to be a data scientist, you don’t need to be a machine learning expert. You just need to know the analogy I used in a blog post I wrote was… You don’t need to know how a car works to drive a car, you just need to get from point A to point B. And I think that’s the AI side of it. We’re not changing the name of our company, even though I did suggest that, I’m like, “Maybe we should take AI out of the company.” And they’re both like, “No, we’re not changing the name of the company.” I’m like, “But it might be more approachable.”

Drew McLellan:

They’re like, “You’ve only been here three months, stop, changing everything, stop.”

Cathy McPhillips:

Yeah. Stop changing everything. Just getting people over that fear over that initial hump of like, “Okay, let me just look into this a little bit more.” And if you look at where I was a year ago versus where I am now, and you’re following me on Twitter you’re like, “Oh my gosh, she has just lost her mind.” But it’s like, “Oh my gosh, no, this actually is working.” And the content marketing side, the AI is really helping content marketing. Content marketing especially, there’s so many opportunities there.

Cathy McPhillips:

What I like about, like I said, the social stuff, but some scheduling, there’s just so many things, AB splitting, subject lines, writing copy, analyzing, looking at who our followers are, looking at who’s sticking around after if they attend a webinar, if they subscribe, who unsubscribes, how long. Things like that, are customers staying with us long after the free stuff? And AI’s helping us identify some of those trends.

Drew McLellan:

I think you started off talking about the problem solving side of it, just the idea of, what don’t I know, or what would I like to know? And is there a tool that will help me know that better, faster, smarter is another way I think, to dive in and it’s not, “We’re changing everything we do to be automated,” it’s just, “There’s something really specific I want to know, and is there a tool out there that will help me answer that question?”

Cathy McPhillips:

Right. We go through this exercise every campaign that we’re doing within the institute, and we say, “Okay, we are going to launch this intro to AI program, and we’re going to do five emails. We’re going to do three blog posts, we’re going to do this outreach to people like Drew McClellan to see if he’ll talk about it in his newsletter. And what can we do? Can we do something specific for AMI and things like that?” And we go through, and Paul has this great system of, “Okay, this is going to take five hours, eight hours, 10 hours,” whatever it is. And then we go through, and it’s a blue sky plan on what we want to do from a marketing perspective.

Cathy McPhillips:

And then we go through and we say, “Okay, Kathy wants us to do a podcast or do something, a YouTube series every day for the next two months to talk about this.” We look at that, we’re like, “Okay, well, that’s not going to work, but could it work if AI could help us? If there’s this block of time that’s going to take 50 man hours, person hours, but if AI helped us, it could take us 10, maybe we could do it. So where’s the time suck and how can we make that smaller? And is there a tool that could help us?”

Drew McLellan:

When you guys ask, is there a tool that help can help us, where do you go to find out if there’s a tool?

Cathy McPhillips:

We either, well, go to our website because Mike has all these pages set up and we do know a lot of the tools well, or good old Google, Google it and say, “Lead scoring AI tool.” We’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing ourselves.

Drew McLellan:

But I do think it’s worth pointing out that your website is a great resource for tools that have been at least vetted enough to know that they do what they say they’re going to do. I personally find that, not that I don’t love the Google, but if you guys are talking about a tool, then I know that you’ve played with it and that it has some legitimacy to it. Because I think a lot of people they’re afraid to try things because they’re like, “I don’t even know how to evaluate if this is good or not.” So you’re pre-blessing it, if you will. For me personally, it gives me some confidence that it’s okay, then it’s worth at least experimenting with.

Cathy McPhillips:

Right. And it’s interesting, we do these vendor spotlights on our website where we’ll have a technology, we’ll ask everyone the exact same questions just so as a reader, as a customer, they can look at our website and look at two side by side and see which one might make more sense for them. But a few things, if a company’s website ends in .io or .ai, it doesn’t mean that they’re artificial intelligence.

Drew McLellan:

It just means they went to GoDaddy

Cathy McPhillips:

Right. If we’ve talked to some tech technology solutions who have said, “We’d like a vendor spotlight,” which is free, it’s a good service we’re providing to our readers, but we’ll do an interview, and there have been times Paul’s walk out of his office and he’s like, “It’s not AI.” And we won’t accept it. So we’re trying to do a lot of that leg work for people so they don’t have to.

Drew McLellan:

I just think it’s a great shortcut, for sure. I feel like we could keep talking for four or five more hours, but if you were an agency person today and you’re like, “Okay, all right. I haven’t even gotten into the pool, but I now see all my competitors and my compadres are in the pool, the kitty pool is splashing around, so I’m going to get in the pool,” what would be the tool or problem or use case that you would start to experiment? What’s the easiest thing to poke around with and play with a little bit? Is it the copy thing?

Cathy McPhillips:

The copy, yes, because there’s so many tools out there that can do it right now, good or bad. But there is the biggest pool that I believe that exists is just the helping with the copy side of things. So I would find, I would say a willing client, but maybe your client doesn’t even need to know, and find someone on your team that’s excited about trying something new and say, “Here’s our product, here’s our service, here is our goal. Go see if this can help us.” Know what you want your outcome to be.

Drew McLellan:

And then start playing around.

Cathy McPhillips:

And then start playing around with it. Because I knew that I needed to have these promotions done so I knew, “At least for right now I need this many blog posts. I need this much and an email to go out next week. And I would like to at least schedule social for the next month, just so it’s done, and so I don’t forget.” So I knew what I wanted and I knew what I wanted my customer to do. So knowing those things, that’s what I knew I needed the end result to be, versus just go play with it, because that doesn’t solve anything.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and again, you can’t even evaluate it then, really, was this faster, better, smarter? That’s what we’re looking for. Walk us back through, we have MAICON the event, we have the academy, which is chalk full of courses and information, and then we have the intro piece. So if I’m interested in the intro piece, because you’re doing that every week, right?

Cathy McPhillips:

Right. It’s not really every week yet, but like every two weeks-ish, we’re just trying right now work around everyone’s schedules on our team.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So if I wanted to start with that, the intro piece, where do I go to sign up for it, or how do I find out more about it, or how do I know when it is? And if I don’t attend live, do I get the recording? All of those things.

Cathy McPhillips:

If you go to our website, in the top nav, there is an education tab and there’s a dropdown for both academy and for intro to AI. And intro to AI, as soon as the one starts, I update the landing page to the next date. So the landing page will never change. It’s just, “Here’s the next one. Here’s the next one.” And if you exit that page without signing up, you might get a popup saying, “You can’t make this one, we can notify you about the next one. You can sign up for a future date.”

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. I think it’s like, “Let’s just get started. Let’s just start splash around in the pool.”

Cathy McPhillips:

And I’d love to hear if people do try something, connect with me on LinkedIn and say, “That didn’t work,” or, “That did.” Or what can we do? We’re constantly trying to talk to people and say, “Is our website, is our blog, is everything we’re doing useful to you? What’s missing? Are there any gaps?” Or, “Oh, the content creation piece, give me more of this,” just so we can make sure that we’re giving everyone what they need. And like I said, as we’re learning, when I finished that video yesterday, I said to Paul, “Should I write a blog post about this?” And he’s like, “Yes, you should.” Just because us providing more of those examples of it in action is just really helpful.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I think the fact that you are saying we’re experimenting too, is reassuring to people that no one has this all figured out yet and that it’s changing every day and it’s okay to be in the experimental stage, because you guys are the experts, so if you’re experimenting, then it’s okay for me to experiment too.

Cathy McPhillips:

But we’re also small business, there’s four of us. So we don’t have the big budget so we don’t have people to… I’m doing probably five people’s jobs right now just because we’re small and that’s what you do.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Just like an agency.

Cathy McPhillips:

Yeah, exactly.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, this has been awesome and this is exactly what I wanted. I just wanted a different perspective of a more ground level perspective. So thank you so much for agreeing to do this and sharing your experience and your expertise. I am grateful. Thank you.

Cathy McPhillips:

You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Drew McLellan:

So if people want to track you down, I know you’re on LinkedIn a lot, what’s the best way for folks to contact you?

Cathy McPhillips:

LinkedIn’s easy. I’m just Cathy McPhillips, Cathy with the C. On Twitter, I’m @cmcphillips, and the institute website is marketingaiinstitute.com.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Beautiful.

Cathy McPhillips:

That’s a where you can find all of the things that we’re doing.

Drew McLellan:

All of the things. And you’re going to send me some links to stick in the show notes, right?

Cathy McPhillips:

I will. I will, for sure.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. That’s awesome. Thank you. All right you guys, this wraps up another episode. As always, I like episodes that get you to do something, or get you to stop doing something, or get you to try something different. And so Cathy’s given you a lot of different entry points to start splashing around in the kitty pool. The water’s fine, everybody’s in there, come on in and start splashing around, but don’t just listen to this and go, “Yeah, I should do that,” just start to experiment. And I would love to hear where you’re experimenting and what’s working for you.

Drew McLellan:

And we will certainly be talking about MAICON when it’s time to register for that event. I highly recommend that you get yourself to Cleveland and surround yourself by other people who are also experimenting and learning. So with that, I will let you go. But first, I want to thank our friends at White Label IQ, as you know, they’re the presenting sponsor of the podcast. They do white label design dev and PPC for many, many AMI agencies and many podcast listeners. Head over to whitelabeliq.com/ami, and they will give you actually some free hours on your first project just to kick their tires.

Drew McLellan:

So really good people, really smart people, and I am grateful for their support as well. In the meantime, I will be back next week with another guest, and you know how to track me down in the interim if you need me, otherwise, I will see you next week. And thanks for listening.

Drew McLellan:

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency Podcast. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to mid-sized agencies. Don’t forget to subscribe today so you don’t miss an episode.