what are soft skills

What are soft skills, when it comes to marketing, and how can they save a relic like you or I? Let me back up… in the news this week Chat GPT has created quite a storm. Google has 27,100 searches for this in Australia alone. In case you haven’t heard, Chat GPT is the latest artificial intelligence system the media are claiming is a game changer.

Meh, maybe. Could be a storm. Might also be a storm in a tea cup.

Don’t get me wrong… Chat GPT is impressive

Don’t get my wrong. I’m impressed with the power of artificial intelligence and have heard great things about the potential of Chat GPT… but this aint the Terminator, I aint Sara Connor and I’m pretty confident my business is safe and so is yours.

I think back to the fear of robots coming for our jobs. According to Wired, the word robot first appeared in 1921 and the first robot was invented in the 1950’s. Indeed, robots have replaced the need for some repetitive tasks, however, as recently as 2020 Wired author Matt Simon conceded robots still need our help to navigate the real world. I see artificial intelligence as a similar attempt, however, it is designed to replace our brains intead of our bodies.

Demonstrations of Chat GPT are impressive, including this demontration of how to write a 2000 word essay in about 2 minutes or how to use the program to write an entire book. This type of AI can quickly gather and process everything that’s written on the Internet about a particular topic and regurgitate the answers for you. As far as I can tell, it’s like a mash up of content that’s already out there.

AI lacks heart

Missy Burrell pointed out this week in Marketing Magazine, that AI’s biggest weakness is it’s lack of a beating heart. I agree. I recently wrote an article about why people buy from you. People buy with emotion and justify their purchase decision with logic. So, showing your emotions or leading your readers or viewers to a place where they feel something special and unique about your brand, is not the forte of AI.

What are soft skills?

Oxford defines “soft skills” as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” In other words, soft skills are those which make us most human. What are soft skills going to do to set people apart from AI in marketing? I have some ideas below.

Soft skills explained

Accountability

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling when you have done something wrong? Artificial intellingence doesn’t feel. So, who is responsible is it prints lies, hate or discrimatory speech in your name? Perhaps it’s something you wouldn’t say but not you’re going to be held accountable for what this unfeeling little gremlin has created. What are soft skills for, if not for making us feel guilt once in a while?

Authenticity

Everything you do, including your writing, has a style. AI appears to write in passive voice. Everything I read, which was generated by AI, seems obvious to me. AI has a cold, monotone, computer generated feel to it. In other words, it’s not your writing style. Add to that our growing distrust of faceless corporations and our need for transparency. Imagine if AI published something in your name, which contradicted your beliefs.

Creativity and new ideas

Original thought and creativity aren’t yet possible with AI. Therefore, using your creative skills to come up with a new idea or concept will still set you apart from your competitors. In marketing, while I believe it’s possible to steal ideas from other places, something that stands out as new can set you apart. Ask anyone engaged in street or geurilla marketing. These ideas stand out because they’re unconventional.

Fact checking

I’m going to apologise in advance. I think the term fact checking is a tired and over used phrase… but it’s all I’ve got. As anyone who’s ever been on the Internet knows, not everything is true just because someone published it. Every social media network struggles with content moderation, so who will check the output of AI for accuracy?

Unique perspective

I write a lot of blog posts, articles, social media posts and other content myself. Some of my most successful content and that of popular writers are that because they have offered a unique insight or perspective. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k” was anything but a conventional self help book. In fact, some of the examples used within the book could almost seem counter-intuitive. Perhaps that’s why the Author, Mark Manson, has sold 20 million books, 10 million of which are “The Subtle Art…”

Metaphors and abstract links

Popular writers often use metaphors to aid the reader’s learning of new material. Whoever read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” will possibly never forget the metaphor of big rocks, pebbles and sand to explain prioritisation. Similarly, Seth Godin used the example of a “Purple Cow”, in his book by the same name, to illustrate the concept of a unique value proposition. AI is unlikely to have made these abstract links because it requires original creative thought, not just analysis.

Reading the room

What if artificial intelligence published the right thing in the wrong way? Perhaps animal slaughter houses are something we need to talk about but not something that needs to be printed in a children’s book about Old McDonald’s Farm. Perhaps murder is on the rise in a foreign country but that’s not something that needs to be included in a destination holiday guide. How does AI know whether it is tasteful to include content, even if it is relevant?

What are soft skills in marketing?

Perhaps my reaction to the hype surrounding Chat GPT exposes my flawed, insecure, human nature. Perhaps you’re here reading because I am human, warts and all. I believe the warts and all, essentially what are soft skills, will be our saving grace.

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