Kate Bradley | AI: the Future of Content Marketing
Scott D. Clary | Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship
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AI: The Future Of Content Marketing
When you try to imagine the founder of an artificial intelligence company, you might envision something like Jesse Eisenberg’s performance in The Social Network, or maybe the guys from Silicon Valley.
I certainly didn’t think of someone like Kate Bradley, the line cook-turned-rock DJ-turned-marketing superstar that is now CEO of Lately.ai.
There was absolutely no social awkwardness from Kate when she joined the Success Story podcast in September. We clicked immediately and could have talked for hours over a beer (or even a non-alcoholic one, like she suggested).
So how did someone go from broadcasting to millions of people to running a content marketing firm with massive, international clients? Listen to her for five minutes and you’ll get it. As she put it, her talent is “turning customers into evangelists.”
Let’s get Sirius
Kate was a Music Director for Sirius XM and has 25 years of experience in broadcasting, and as she puts it, that is exactly where she started to refine her marketing approach.
The way that artists covered songs, the way she needed to speak into the microphone, the way she learned how your brain catalogues and connects music as soon as you hear it.
“What I learned through the neuroscience of music, listening through radio actually turns out to be one of the largest informers of how Lately’s AI works,” she explained to me, before popping to another topic entirely.
That’s kind of how our conversation went, and how it seems like every conversation with Kate goes. “I don’t talk linearly. I’m all over the place.”
That’s part of her charm and a big part of her success. Her process isn’t repeatable - at least it wasn’t until she found a way for (part of) it to be replicated with artificial intelligence.
More than just one message
What she had learned ahead of so many other marketing firms was that as we moved into the age of social media, you couldn’t just use the same message and blast it across the entire world. Everything is too interconnected for just one message, you needed to split it up, chop it, and package it differently.
But the thing is, all that work takes time and takes people. Companies still struggle with content creation because they have to feed so many mouths.
When she moved from music into marketing, her first big additions to the industry were spreadsheets.
Wait, spreadsheets have been around for a long time, right?
Not like these spreadsheets. Kate is a self-professed spreadsheet nerd, and she used them to start aligning massive marketing departments for huge companies. Instead of creating and re-creating individual messaging, she could just tweak it and re-use the work that had already been done.
Put it in a minor key
“If I’m going to write a blog on consistency and marketing, I’m sure I’ve written 50 emails about that somewhere. Let me just go find them and pull them together.” Repurposing content was the breakthrough and something that resonates with me a great deal.
I’ve followed that same advice to help Success Story become as popular as it is today - the only difference? Kate was doing it way before everyone else.
“‘I’m a sucker for covers, Scott. There are some standards though like a cover can’t just be the straight-ahead song. Why do it again, if it’s already great? You need to turn it inside out. Put it in a minor key.”
That’s the essence of Kate’s strategy. Take one piece of content, a long-form podcast, for instance, and turn it into 40. Snip it into a 30-second clip. Chop out the rapid-fire questions for a Twitter video. Turn the content into an article for your subscribers. Get it?
Taking it to the next level
Kate could have run a successful traditional marketing agency. She was great at it. One of her first clients was Walmart, which received a 130% ROI year over year for three years while working with her.
But there was a new opportunity coming in the form of artificial intelligence, and she saw it. This is the way content marketing will be done, she posits. And it’s certainly hard to argue with her when you hear it explained.
“It’s the robot’s job to get you three-quarters of the way there. So that human has the space to fill in that quarter percent. Now the difference isn’t 1+1=2, it’s 1+1=3.”
At Lately, that AI learns your brand voice, studies your analytics, and then chops or repurposes content based on your most engaging keywords and topics. Suddenly, you don’t require as many hands, you don’t need to feed as many mouths, and yet you’re generating more than just one message.
Robots are cold, humans are warm
But Kate (and I) don’t think that marketers will be replaced completely. Even though “robots are fast, humans are slow,” there’s still something missing from the generated content. At least for now.
For people like me, that’s a good thing, and it’s not like she’s looking to change it. Kate readily admits that there is a little “je ne sais quoi” that people can add to content, marketing, and messaging that will never be replicated. The aim is to give a talented storyteller the ability to create a ton of their content, quickly.
Targeting the share
Like any other effective leader, Kate was also wide open with many of her content strategies. For social copy, for instance, she distilled it into two possibilities.
“There are only two outcomes: click or share. That’s it. Now clicks for smaller companies or for people who don’t have a lot of trust, and a lot of name recognition, clicks are hard. But the share is easy,” she said. “Sharing is all about your ego. Me, the author, making you look good by sharing my content. When you share my content, you get credit for it.”
Is your LinkedIn page a turd? is one of the examples she gave. That’s a piece she wrote, trying to get people to share it. She wasn’t focused on generating clicks - there wasn’t enough trust at that point to sell something.
Instead, she was just trying to get a reaction out of someone. That’s the first step in any conversation, and all she wanted to do was get people to engage.
“So reacting is the first step into having a conversation and then making them do the thing, click share or whatever it is, you have to make people lean forward.”
Getting that lean in is crucial, and again is what Kate believes will always keep marketers in the equation. It’s not humans and robots, they’re not two separate departments. It’s a joint enterprise now - input and polish from one, output and legwork from another.
I feel like half the time I was talking to Kate we were just laughing about things together, but there was so much more we covered in our podcast. Things like:
- Getting up when you are knocked down
- Raising money from angel investors
- Not chasing monthly recurring revenue
- Stopping customer churn
You can bet that we’ll be hearing from Kate again at some point, too. She kept hinting at something big coming for Lately, and even let one little thing slip.
“The new product that we are releasing is actually designed for you and everybody else. The AI will get them 90% there instead of only three-quarters of the way, and be at that consumer kind of price range.”
I can’t wait until Kate is back on Success Story with a brand new product that changed the content marketing game all over again. For now, make sure to check out the full interview on the Success Story YouTube channel where there are hundreds of other interviews.
I’ll be back next week with another interesting guest!
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