“Aren’t you guys worried about AI?”.
It’s a question that we’re getting more and more frequently this year. We hear it from clients, we hear it from new prospects, from other agencies and people we meet at networking events. We even hear it from our friends and family.
But are we worried? Not really.
While AI is evolving at an exponential rate, we aren’t quaking at our desks in the fear that our days are numbered and that our robot overlords are coming to replace us. That’s not to say that we aren’t talking about AI. We’re having lots of interesting conversations and meetings, both internally and with outside parties. And our discussions have borne some interesting fruit that we can’t wait to tell you about soon. But while we remain watchful and curious about AI, we’re far from worried.
Because we have taken the time to understand AI platforms like Chat GPT, getting to know their impressive capabilities and their inevitable shortcomings. We know our strengths, we know what keeps our clients coming back, and why AI is unlikely to replicate our incredible team of writers, no matter how sophisticated it gets.
Let’s take a look at five things a good copywriter can do that AI can’t.
Creativity is an area in which AI continues to fall short because AI is fundamentally incapable of creating. It works by drawing on information within its dataset and matching it to user queries.
In that sense, Chat GPT can certainly assimilate elements of creative or poetic language like similes, metaphors, alliteration or pathetic fallacy. But their execution tends to feel clunky and shoehorned. It lacks the fundamental sense of purpose that comes with the truly creative use of language.
Observe, an exchange when we tried to test Chat GPT’s capacity for florid prose:
WA: Please write 50 words about how our copywriting agency is the best in the business. Please use lots of creative and poetic language devices including similes, metaphors and alliteration
Chat GPT: Welcome to our copywriting sanctuary, where words dance on the pages like shimmering fireflies, illuminating brands with a kaleidoscope of enchantment. Our agency is a symphony of prose, an alchemist of language, forging golden connections that weave a tapestry of captivating tales. With pens as wands, we conjure words that soar like birds, inspiring hearts and stirring minds. Choose us, and your brand will bloom like a thousand blossoms, for we are the alphas of articulation, the epitome of eloquence, and the maestros of mesmerising messaging.
The response is… pretty good for a robot. But while there are some turns of phrase that are actually quite charming (“with pens as wands, we conjure words that soar like birds, inspiring hearts and stirring minds”), others fall woefully short (“Choose us, and your brand will bloom like a thousand blossoms”).
While Chat GPT can apply poetic language devices to a given brief, it doesn’t understand what makes the use of these devices resonate with human readers. Human copywriters draw on a massive shared bank of common information including cultural frames of reference and memesis that they have spent their whole lives developing. They instinctively know how this will shape the ways in which readers will perceive their use of language.
Clients in fields like healthcare, financial services or tech need more than an engaging turn of phrase. They need to be able to make accurate, authoritative claims that are backed by links to authoritative primary sources such as studies, reviews and white papers.
Without an extremely detailed framework, ChatGPT cannot identify which information within its dataset is relevant or accurate and which is not. As such, even its creators concede that “ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts”.
This makes it singularly unsuitable for journalism, technical writing, or anything else that requires a specialist’s voice, knowledge and experience. Placing too much faith in AI copywriting could have serious real-world consequences.
Your brand’s tone of voice is your fingerprint. It’s a key part of your customers’ interaction with you and serves to encapsulate how your clientele feels about your brand. Are you warm, chatty and helpful? Or are you a little more austere and authoritative in your use of language?
A human copywriter can spend time reading through your website copy, get to know your TOV guidelines and assimilate it to ensure engagement with your target audience.
Can Chat GPT match your TOV?
In theory, yes. In practice… not so much.
We asked it to write some copy for the ‘About us’ section of our website in a friendly, engaging and helpful tone. While its efforts seemed admirable at first glance, they quickly descended into the realm of generic fluff.
“Welcome to our vibrant world of words, where creativity meets efficiency and imagination merges with precision. We are not just another copywriting agency; we are your dedicated partners in crafting captivating content that speaks to your audience’s hearts and minds.
At our core, we understand the challenges of content creation at scale. That’s why we’ve assembled a stellar team of professional writers who are masters of their craft. From technical manuals that decode complexity to press releases that ignite curiosity, our wordsmiths excel in delivering exceptional content across a vast spectrum of industries.
We pride ourselves on our flexibility and adaptability. Whether you need content in English, Spanish, Mandarin, or any other language, our multilingual team is ready to bring your message to life on a global scale. We embrace diversity and weave cultural nuances seamlessly into our work, ensuring that your content transcends borders and speaks to hearts around the world.”
As we can see, there are attempts at artful and engaging wordplay here, but not all of them land with aplomb. There are some instances of perhaps trying a little too hard, and some examples of word choices that may be grammatically correct but still feel wrong. “Technical manuals that decode curiosity”, for example.
We then asked ChatGPT to replicate the same content in a more factual and authoritative tone.
“Choose our agency to unlock the power of words with a disciplined and authoritative approach. Experience firsthand the impact of our proven track record, where technical precision meets persuasive communication. Let our team infuse your brand’s narrative with credibility, fostering engagement and achieving remarkable results.”
Yep, it actually used the word authoritative.
In fairness, neither example is inherently bad. But neither are they on par with what a skilled copywriter could produce in response to the same brief.
It’s more than likely that your content marketing strategy requires you to respond knowledgeably and authoritatively to new advances, product releases, news and consumer trends within your industry. Your following looks to you for the unique insights that only you can provide.
As a trusted resource, you cannot rely on Chat GPT due to its present limitations. At the time of writing, ChatGPT’s admittedly impressive dataset has a knowledge cutoff of September 2021. This means that it is unable to speak intelligently of any news or events past this point.
While this cutoff will inevitably be brought forward eventually, it is highly unlikely that the tool will be able to maintain a dataset that keeps abreast of the latest news and trends in the foreseeable future.
Finally, one of the most fundamental flaws of AI copywriting tools like ChatGPT is that they are unable to generate unique insights. They cannot ruminate on two opposing arguments and determine which is correct. They cannot opine nor empathise with the needs and pain points of the reader. They can only regurgitate information from within their dataset, altering the wording in response to the user’s prompts.
While this is certainly a marvellous technological accomplishment, AI is not capable of generating original thoughts and insights (yet). And what is the point of generating your own content if not to share your unique insights and perspective? To tell your story as only you can tell it?
A talented copywriter can respond to a brief in a creative and idiosyncratic way, drawing on their own experiences, knowledge and emotional intelligence rather than simply replicating data they read online.
To wrap things up, AI is a tool (and a very impressive tool at that). Like any tool, it has its uses and its limitations. We’re excited about how we can use AI to supplement or inform our operations– but we know that it is unlikely to supplant human copywriters within our lifetimes.