27 March 2023

What is ChatGPT and how can you use it? A quick primer for business leaders

Pete Jakob
Written by Pete Jakob

Pete is UK Marketing Director for The Marketing Centre and specialises in marketing systems, data and processes for small and mid-size businesses. He has over 35 years’ experience working in technology and a variety of other sectors.

There is a lot of talk right now about ChatGPT. Depending on who you listen to, it’s either the beginning of the end or the solution to all our problems. 

The reality, of course, is probably somewhere in the middle. 

We’ve been experimenting with it a lot since we first got access. Our early explorations have found that, like most tools, it’s good at some things and not at others. It’s a useful assistant. It’s not going to replace your marketing team anytime soon, but it can definitely help them work smarter and faster.

This post will share a quick primer on what ChatGPT is and how you can use it in your business.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is short for ‘Conversational Generative Pre-Training Transformer’. You can see why they abbreviated it…

Ask it a question and it will give you an answer. In this sense, it’s a bit like a conventional search engine. But unlike search engines, it doesn’t just serve up a series of links to content that you have to explore. It generates impressively lifelike text based on data it has previously ingested and analysed. 

It’s a bit like really smart chatbot that will try and answer any question you ask it. That said - and this is important to remember - its answers aren’t always correct. In fact, one of the big criticisms levelled at ChatGPT is that when it doesn’t know the answer to a question it will often just make stuff up (more on this later).

ChatGPT is already the fastest-growing product of all time. It took Netflix three and a half years to reach one million users. It took ChatGPT just five days. It’s also worth bearing in mind that ChatGPT is just one of many AI models. Google (Bard), Microsoft (Copilot), and even Meta (LLaMA) have all recently announced their first AI-powered chat interfaces - so there will be a huge tech battle ahead.

It seems undeniable that ChatGPT, or tools like it, are going to change how we work. So what exactly can you use it for?

How we’re using it

In the spirit of exploration, we’ve been trying out ChatGPT for all kinds of marketing tasks. Please note, this is for our own marketing, not the work that we do for our clients.

It’s helped us research a new sector that we’re planning an upcoming campaign around. It’s helped brainstorm initial ideas for LinkedIn posts and suggested copy for LinkedIn comments. 

It’s suggested alternative subject lines to use for A/B testing. 

We’ve had it review our blog posts and make suggestions to improve SEO. It’s given us a checklist of things to have in place before you launch a new website and given us useful tips on doing ABM

It can be a great time-saver for routine ‘housekeeping’ tasks like writing job descriptions or internal policy documents. It can also be a great way to quickly and easily answer internal questions. 

For example, one of our team had a junior colleague ask what a value prop was. Rather than spend time writing a long answer from scratch, we used ChatGPT to write one - along with an explanation of the difference between a value prop and positioning - and shared it with them. 

It’s a very useful and hardworking assistant that can help you get the ball rolling and take you from a blank page to a pretty decent starting point or brief. Which, in our experience, is often the hardest part.

What it’s not good at

Despite the hand-wringing about mass redundancies, ChatGPT isn’t going to make marketers obsolete just yet. It’s very much a tool that needs to be told what to do and guided towards useful outputs. And even then, it’s efforts are very much ‘version one’. Nothing it produces should be considered customer-facing.

It can make research faster. But it needs a human to interpret the results and tell it what to look for. It can make suggestions on search optimisation, but a human still needs to review the changes and update the webpage. It can write copy, but the copy tends to be very bland and in need of some sizzle. 

Crucially, due to how it works, it can’t formulate original or unique opinions. ChatGPT is very good at telling you what everyone else thinks about a topic. Obviously, this is good for research, but not for content, which needs to feel unique in order to be interesting.

Basically, there’s a lot that ChatGPT can’t do. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless. In fact, it can almost certainly increase the output and efficiency of any marketing team. 

As I saw on Twitter recently, “AI won’t replace you. A person using AI will.”

How should you get started?

Like most things, the best way to learn about ChatGPT is to roll up your sleeves and give it a go. Here’s a list of ideas to get started with - but remember, as we mentioned earlier, ChatGPT is unlikely to give you a perfect finished product. It’s best to see its suggestions as a starting point:

  1. Drafting sample LinkedIn posts for your company
  2. Drafting a new headline for one of your webpages
  3. Competitor analysis or basic market research
  4. Ideas for promotions or discounts
  5. Ideas for videos for your brand
  6. Creating customer surveys and analysing the results
  7. Developing FAQs for your products or services
  8. Creating instructional content or tutorials
  9. Creating product comparison charts and feature lists
  10. Generating a press release
  11. Creating a data sheet for your product
  12. Drafting new subject lines for your outbound campaigns
  13. Coming up with new names for your marketing campaigns
  14. Coming up with ideas for virtual or in-person events
  15. Drafting an outline for webinar or presentation
  16. Drafting a content calendar
  17. Building better briefs for your agencies
  18. Educating yourself around specific marketing topics and techniques
  19. Rewriting copy into a different tone of voice
  20. Coaching you as you develop & brainstorm new ideas for marketing projects

A few tips based on our experience

A lot has been written about AI and ChatGPT - and there are lots of people out there with strong opinions on this new technology. But our advice is to go into it with an open mind. You’ll have more fun and probably learn more too.

If you want to really get stuck in, it’s worth doing a bit of research on ‘prompt engineering’, which is the art of asking smart questions - as well as follow-ups - that generate useful answers. As with most things, if you ask better questions, you get better answers. Fortunately, ChatGPT enjoys the iterative process of refining your questions to get better outputs - far more than most humans have the patience for!

If they haven’t already tried it out, it’s worth asking your team to give it a go as well. You’ll likely find between you that ChatGPT will slot into your day-to-day work in all kinds of ways.

Could you do with a second opinion?

Our Marketing Directors have spent decades exploring new marketing technologies and putting them to use. We can help you sort the useful tech from the fads, so your marketing team can work smarter and faster.

And remember, great marketing isn’t about how fast you can do things, it’s working out what to do and doing those things consistently to a high standard.


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