Steve Mudd

CEO & Director of Strategic Messaging and Content Marketing at NetApp

AI and Human Collaboration: The Content Marketing Revolution With Steve Mudd

AI and human collaboration are evolving into a dynamic synergy where AI tools enhance creativity and efficiency while humans provide empathy, authenticity, and creative direction. This partnership allows for more rapid content creation, data-driven insights, and personalized engagement.

Join Nishanth Paul Panikulam, Account Executive at Pepper Content, and Meet Steve Mudd, the CEO and founder of Talentless AI, a cutting-edge content marketing agency as they discuss all this and more. With a rich background as an IT storyteller and a prolific writer in the B2B tech sector, Steve brings a unique perspective to the ever-evolving world of content marketing.

In this conversation, they explore the biggest mistakes content marketers make today, the impact of AI on the content landscape, the qualities they seek in content marketing professionals, and the future of content marketing with a focus on authenticity and influencer connections. Join us on this journey to discover how AI and human collaboration are shaping the content marketing landscape of tomorrow.

Here are some excerpts:

1. What are the biggest mistakes content marketers make today?

One of the most significant mistakes I've noticed among content marketers today, and this becomes more evident with time, is the declining quality of creativity. Nowadays, it's all too common to receive LinkedIn messages from people who seem more interested in making friends than engaging in meaningful marketing.

This kind of approach misses the mark; it's not marketing but instead comes across as whiny and intrusive. We've become adept at data-driven targeting, meticulously identifying the right audience and their online whereabouts.

But the problem is that this often leads to a barrage of messages or emails that essentially pester the audience. It borders on digital stalking, which is far from effective marketing. This overemphasis on targeting has created another problem—a lack of genuine creativity. Many content marketers are struggling to generate fresh, original ideas. The result is a glut of unoriginal content that fails to add any real value to customers' lives.

We've gotten so good at targeting people that we forget the importance of meaningful engagement.

To truly excel in content marketing, businesses need to shift their focus towards delivering value, whether through education, entertainment or thought leadership articles. The challenge is substantial, but our marketers must captivate our audience's attention by providing meaningful content that enriches their experiences. This might be a tough task, but it's what we're here to do.

2. Is the future of content marketing in entertainment and unique content types?

I'm genuinely enthusiastic about the array of new digital content creation tools available today. ChatGPT is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the possibilities, like creating animated videos. In the past, producing such content was a lengthy, resource-intensive process involving agencies and extended timelines. But now, with AI tools like Synthesia, Rizzle, and Jet, I can accomplish in a week what once took several months.

This acceleration in content creation opens up exciting avenues for marketers to explore, enabling us to experiment and craft compelling, engaging content for our audiences. The future of content marketing undoubtedly leans heavily on these innovative tools and the creative possibilities they unlock.

3. How will AI impact the content marketing landscape, and will it replace writers?

Speaking as someone who started their journey in content as a writer, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of AI on the content marketing landscape. I used to be a freelance writer for an agency handling projects for IBM, from biographies to white papers. While I consider myself a fast writer, there was always that initial phase of research and contemplation. With AI tools like GPT, that ramp-up time is virtually eliminated, allowing writers to jump straight into creating content. I believe today's writers should be well-versed in using AI tools like GPT, Jasper, or others. These tools empower writers to be more efficient and productive, ensuring they can keep pace with the rapidly evolving content marketing landscape. So, while AI enhances the content creation process, I don't see it replacing writers; instead, it empowers them to deliver better, faster results.

4. What qualities do you look for when hiring content marketing professionals?

When it comes to hiring content marketing professionals, I prioritize qualities that go beyond a traditional, specialized education. Drawing from my own experience of not having a practical degree but still succeeding in this field, I value generalists who possess a knack for thinking differently and a curiosity about leveraging various tools.

In today's dynamic marketing landscape, it's crucial to have individuals who can wear multiple hats. I don't seek individuals limited to one skill; rather, I look for those who can write but are also comfortable creating videos, designing presentations, devising strategies, and more.

I need people who are able and agile enough to shift and think differently about what's coming.

Versatility is key because the marketing landscape is evolving rapidly, challenging us to adapt and rethink established practices. So, I seek professionals who are not only willing but also able to experiment and embrace the changes that lie ahead.

5. Does more content on websites generate more business, or is it about quality over quantity?

The question of whether more content on websites equates to more business is intriguing. In my view, brands must be discerning about where they have the credibility to speak. I find it off-putting when companies adopt a shotgun approach, trying to cover everything under the sun. In today's fast-paced world, audiences and buying groups don't have the luxury of sifting through endless content.

So, the mantra isn't necessarily "more is better." Instead, it's about tailoring content to specific audiences.

Especially in the tech industry where decision-making involves multiple stakeholders, catering to individual audiences is paramount. If your content can address the unique needs and concerns of each audience segment effectively, then more content aimed at different audience segments can indeed be beneficial.

Additionally, there's an exciting prospect on the horizon. It's conceivable that we're moving toward a future where websites can identify visitors and dynamically generate content based on their preferences and interests. This level of personalization is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Such innovation holds the potential to transform the user experience and, in turn, drive business growth. So, while quantity alone may not be the answer, delivering the right content to the right people at the right time is a strategy that can significantly impact a brand's success.

6. How can B2B brands stand out in the content marketing landscape?

In the evolving B2B content marketing landscape, one emerging trend I see is the surging volume of content, particularly around topics like AI. However, there's a risk of this leading to a "snowball effect," where it becomes challenging to differentiate one AI-themed piece from another. Eventually, I believe audiences will crave authenticity and genuine human connections amidst the content deluge. This is where influencer marketing comes into play. B2B brands can humanize their image by associating real faces with their products or services. For example, AWS has Verner Vogels, who is highly trusted by the community. People want that personal connection, and having a credible and relatable figurehead can make all the difference.

To successfully implement influencer marketing, brands should break down the barriers between their leadership and marketing teams. It's about letting the personalities behind the brand shine through. However, this approach requires training for the chosen influencers, especially if they're not accustomed to being on camera or lack storytelling skills. They need to be authentic, engaging, and able to communicate effectively. At NetApp, for instance, we've identified individuals with both technical expertise and interviewing skills who can extract valuable insights from other experts concisely and engagingly. Facilitating these higher-level interactions and helping influencers become better storytellers is key to standing out in the B2B content landscape.

In conclusion, the future of B2B content marketing will likely hinge on the ability to foster authentic connections and employ relatable personalities as brand representatives. As the volume of content continues to rise, it's the human touch that will set brands apart and resonate with their audiences.

7. Do you foresee AI and human collaboration as the future of content marketing?

I see AI and human collaboration as the future of content marketing. It's not so much a matter of AI replacing humans but complementing and enhancing our capabilities. As you mentioned, using AI like GPT is a fantastic tool, but the real magic happens when you engage with it collaboratively.

AI can provide valuable insights and generate ideas, but it often takes several iterations and prompts to refine and polish those ideas into something truly remarkable.

The curiosity to ask questions, explore different angles, and refine the output is where the human touch comes in. It's about guiding and refining the AI's output to align with the brand's objectives and audience needs.

Furthermore, I agree that influencer marketing will likely play a significant role in the future of content marketing. Instead of just putting a face to a brand, it's about leveraging authentic personalities who can connect with the audience on a deeper level. This authenticity, coupled with AI-generated insights and content, can create a powerful combination. The future is about finding that sweet spot where AI augments our creativity and efficiency, and humans provide the empathy, creativity, and authenticity that machines can't replicate. This synergy will be the key to content marketing's evolution and success in the years to come.

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