David Reske Takes Us Inside the Mind of a Marketer

David Reske: Inside the Mind of a Marketer

We’re back with another marketer interview as part of our “Inside the Mind of a Marketer” series. This time, we’re talking to David, Nowspeed‘s Founder and President (and one of nDash’s earliest customers), about AI and content marketing.

nDash: My first question is about AI. As a marketer, how is AI impacting operations, for better and worse?

David: Let’s start with the positives. We’re really working hard to understand how to use it effectively. We see it as a new tool that we can leverage to help our clients get better content and advertising and just make us much more efficient and effective. We’re working on that all the time.

It’s funny; I’ve been doing this for a long time. I started my first agency in 1994, building websites in Notepad. You have to ask engineers to build websites, right? Now, we’re seeing the technological evolution of content management systems, CRM systems, and marketing automation systems.

All these advances in marketing technology have happened; with the advent of social media and email technology, email distribution has really evolved dramatically to make marketing more productive and effective.

I think of AI, right now anyway, in its current evolution, as a tool for marketers to really get a lot more done more effectively. So, we’re using it for things like content creation and research. It’s obviously helpful in content creation. But it’s not automatic with content creation.

For example, if you say, “Hey, write me a blog post on marketing,” you’re going to get some crappy, generic thing. However, if I engaged one of your writers and said, “Hey, write me a blog post on marketing,” I would probably get something more interesting.

I think there’s a way to have a conversation and iterate and work with AI. We’re working hard to get better and better at doing that. We see it as a big productivity tool for us, kind of enabling our human writers to get better content and be more productive.

nDash: What are some of the downsides you’ve experienced as a marketer?

David: There’s definitely an existential threat that AI will replace everything all of us are doing, right? There’s a concern, and we haven’t seen that with any other marketing tech, so it’s not like websites replaced billboards or YouTube replaced television or radio. In all of marketing, it’s always been additive, right? Newspapers evolved; they didn’t go away when.

For example, I still pay for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal even though I can get a lot of content for free on the Internet. So, many of these marketing technologies have been additive. I started my agency with email and search, and we’re still doing those things 20 years later.

Those things really haven’t gone away. AI could be different, or it could just be a productivity tool. Right now, it’s a productivity tool. Will it evolve to the point where it can run entire campaigns, execute them, interpret the results, help you make good decisions, and do all that? Maybe, maybe not.

nDash: Using your example of the Wall Street Journal, do you envision a future where an agency’s value proposition leans more toward the quality side versus speed?

David: Yeah, I think in terms of content, most of our clients need massively more content because it’s relatively expensive to produce. Many of our clients, which are mid-sized companies, don’t have the resources to create all the content they need. So, we discuss our content model. We’d love to see content across all phases of the buying cycle for all products for all buyer types, right?

Think about this three-dimensional grid, and in each one of those cells are multiple media types. So you need, for the tech business buyer in the evaluation phase, for this product in this market, I really should have a case study, a data sheet, a web page, and a blog, right? There’s just a massive amount of content that I think a lot of clients need.

2D excerpt from an example matrix:

2D excerpt from an example matrix

nDash Note: For each cohort (A, B, C, etc.), you’ll need to create multiple assets, ranging from blog posts, social content, whitepapers, email, etc. Now multiply this for every product or service, and you can see how daunting the content volume can be to go it alone.

AI enables us to think about really filling in the grid and having all the content that we need. It’s not automatic or free because you still need people, and you’re in the business of providing people to do this. You still need people to put the plan together and think about the topics, the unique differentiator, and the content that comes back.

It still takes time, but instead of creating one piece, you need a grid with 5,000 cells—and you have 25 created now. So you need a lot of content if you’re going to make it that specific. So how do you do that? Well, AI can be a productivity booster, and it can help you get ten times faster. It’s going to help all of us build all the content that we need.

nDash: Are you using general AI tools like OpenAI and GPT, or are you leaning towards more specialized AI tools?

David: We’re primarily using ChatGPT and Gemini for that. We haven’t gotten too far in some of the specialized tools yet, but we’re using them for other things, too, like creating ad copy, landing page copy, and sometimes website copy. There are all kinds of opportunities to create copy.

For example, I have a podcast. I take its content, create a transcript, and use that core content to create article content. So, it’s a way to get a lot more written with original ideas that can really be more effective.

We’re not sharing the prompts with our clients; we’re delivering the product to them. We’ve done a lot of thinking about how to do those prompts and how to do that iteration. I think that will become more and more of our special sauce and why clients will want to work with us.

👉 Click here for more information about repurposing content: A Guide to Content Repurposing – nDash.com

nDash: In terms of client engagement, how do you extract and use their internal subject matter expertise in your content creation process?

David: We do a discovery engagement, think about strategy, work hard to get insights, and do some research in that phase. So we have to do all of that upfront. Then, we really learn about their business. From there, we create a content plan for them. Then, we execute the plan, and they have to approve all the content.

We have a good methodology for that. I think we’re going to continue to evolve that methodology to think about how to create more personalized, more authoritative content along the way. Still, we’ve got a good process. It does take a lot more time upfront to do that discovery, strategy, insights, and planning.

I think that’s where humans can be really effective, or because we’re an agency, we really add a lot of value. It’s really that creative, that strategy piece that I think you’re not going to necessarily get from AI because you won’t have the experience to know what’s important and what’s not important.

nDash: Do your clients specifically ask for AI-driven services, or is this something you introduce as part of your toolkit as a marketer?

David: They’re not really asking us to do AI. We’re bringing it to the table as one of the tools in our toolkit. If they’re asking us to do AI, they’re probably doing it themselves. The people who have the internal staff who are writers are probably going to end up doing it themselves and are not going to necessarily go to an agency to do that.

Our clients who rely on us for content marketing would respect that we use AI, and we’re very open to using AI to produce more content, be more productive, and lower costs for them. But it takes a lot of time, and it doesn’t automatically. It takes a lot of specialized knowledge to make the articles and the content good, powerful, and effective. It’s not just an automatic process; we can fill in the grid with all this content automatically.

nDash: How do you balance AI-generated and human-written content in light of search engine updates like Google’s March Core Update?

David: We think a lot about the E-E-A-T criteria that they publish, focusing on demonstrating expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. That’s super important to consider when we’re writing content. Generic AI-written content doesn’t naturally do that; you have to carefully add it and ensure that it’s part of it.

We’re thinking a lot about how to make the content hit all that checklist. I like that checklist because it really aligns with what humans look for in content and what we want to read. That’s why I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It’s expert, authoritative, trustworthy, and often includes interviews, so it’s based on people’s real experiences. That’s why it’s valuable.

👉 Click here for more information about the Google update mentioned: March 2024 Google Core Update: A New Chapter in the Fight Against Spam – nDash.com

nDash: As a marketer, have you observed common mistakes in clients’ approaches to marketing with AI?

David: Marketing has become intricate. To succeed, you need a strategic plan that combines expertise in various areas – creative, technical, and data analysis. It’s all about working together seamlessly.

Many fall into common traps. Here are a few examples:

  • Google ads: Throwing money at keywords and hoping for traffic won’t guarantee results. You need a well-defined strategy.
  • SEO: Content creation isn’t a numbers game. Just churning out articles won’t improve SEO. You need a targeted strategy with the right keywords.
  • Email marketing: Blasting emails to a generic list is ineffective. Craft targeted campaigns with clear calls to action and valuable propositions.

A successful strategy requires careful planning and a holistic approach. Clients often make mistakes when choosing agencies. Some agencies focus solely on technical aspects of SEO or PPC, neglecting strategy, ad creatives, and messaging. This leaves the client holding the bag for the overall results.

Think of it this way: Imagine hiring an agency for technical SEO and expecting them to be solely responsible for your website’s ranking. It doesn’t work that way. The same goes for email marketing or any other marketing channel. Don’t get stuck micromanaging an agency that only delivers pieces of the puzzle.

At our agency, we believe in winning, not just completing tasks. We develop comprehensive marketing programs that focus on achieving your business goals. We’re not just content creators—we’re strategic partners who understand the entire marketing landscape.

Compared to purely technical agencies, we offer a complete strategic approach.  We differentiate ourselves from generalist agencies by combining deep technical expertise with strategic planning and creative content development. This allows us to deliver a holistic solution for our clients.

nDash: With some marketers arguing SEO is  ‘dead,” how do you adapt?

David: I don’t think SEO is dead at all. Google is nearly a $2 trillion company. Google is based on the idea that people are searching for something, and they need to be able to find it. That’s really what SEO is about: making your content look like what Google wants to see so you get free traffic from the search engines.

The idea that SEO is dead is naive. I don’t think people are replacing their Google searches with GPT searches, and I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon because it’s a different type of search. You’re looking for seven different types of things, right?

At different phases, I might do a travel search, where I might say, “Oh, I’m going to Rome this summer. Give me a three-day itinerary for Rome.” ChatGPT or Gemini is going to be awesome at doing that. Now, they want to find a hotel and a Michelin restaurant, and I want to go to ChatGPT. It’s not going to be good at that, right? Because I really want to search to find the thing.

SEO is not dead. I think what’s dead is tactical, technical programs that are only focused on technical SEO. What really has to happen is that it has to have broad content and a thoughtful, integrated campaign around SEO. That’s primarily focused on content. I think that’s what’s most important, and that’s really where you guys play, and that’s where it’s super valuable.

nDash: How do you approach content distribution across various channels?

David: There’s still a play for content distribution beyond link building. We live in a multi-channel world. People want to consume content wherever they are. They might search for you on Google, visit your website directly, see you on LinkedIn or Facebook, or encounter your content on analyst web pages or news articles. Essentially, they want to see you everywhere.

Channels like LinkedIn and social media are crucial, especially for B2C clients. Having a strategy for these platforms with high-quality content and messaging is essential. Email marketing is another important channel. The ideal scenario is to have a large email list of opted-in users from your target audience.

But content distribution isn’t just about having a great website and amazing content; you also need a great product that people actually want. It’s not about doing everything at once. Small companies and startups can’t be expected to afford all the channels simultaneously. However, for larger companies, a comprehensive omnichannel approach is recommended. Fortunately, AI is making managing multiple channels less expensive.

The key for content marketers is to play to win, not dabble. Invest in creating a strategy and high-quality content to succeed across all relevant channels. Here’s a successful approach we’ve used: Anchor Thought Leadership.

We use a podcast as a core topic each week, then repurpose it into:

  • Social media posts
  • Email blasts
  • Monthly newsletter content
  • SEO-optimized blog posts
  • Other derivative content

This strategy allows you to create a significant amount of original thought leadership content from a single source, making it efficient and scalable for both small and large companies.

Having a consistent voice across all your content channels ensures consistent messaging, positioning, goals, and storytelling. This naturally builds authority and expertise, aligning with E-E-A-T criteria and making your content unique and focused.

👉 Click here for more information about how to get started on nDash: Content Creation for Marketing Teams | nDash.com

About Nowspeed

Nowspeed is a digital marketing agency providing innovative Digital Advertising, PPC (Pay-per-click), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing Automation, and Web Design solutions. From our offices across the United States, we work closely with our clients to provide solutions specially designed for their unique online marketing objectives.