September 21, 2023

MarTech Meets AI: Integration Insights

AI has become the secret weapon for many marketing teams. In the MarTech world, this goes one step further: many MarTech CMOs are not only embracing AI but pioneering its integration.

Three such CMOs are Adriana Gil Miner of Iterable, Christopher Willis of Acrolinx, and Andrew Bennett of Smartsheet. In this episode, we bring them together so they can share how they’re marketing the AI that’s making their respective products that much more powerful. Tune in to deep dive into their strategies for rising above the AI buzz, leveraging PR, community engagement, word-of-mouth campaigns, and the myriad ways their teams are harnessing AI.

What You’ll Learn

  • How 3 CMOs are augmenting their products with AI
  • How to cut through the noise when marketing AI
  • How marketing teams are using AI

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 363 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned


  • [4:18] Adriana Gil Miner: “Get that hands-on experience”
  • [8:14] Baking AI into Iterable
  • [13:03] Chris Willis: “AI before AI was cool”
  • [16:44] Baking AI into Acrolinx
  • [21:59] Andrew Bennett: “Aha” AI moments
  • [23:13] Baking AI into Smartsheet
  • [31:04] Giving & getting at CMO Huddles
  • [33:59] The AI hype cycle: Cutting through the noise
  • [42:19] Are marketing teams resisting AI?
  • [47:02] Ben Franklin: “What good is a baby?”
  • [47:47] Words of wisdom: Adding AI to your product

Highlighted Quotes

“Whenever new technology comes up, don’t fear it. Lean in and discover it and try to understand it.” —Adriana Gil Miner @Iterable Share on X “By the time that we want to launch that high-level campaign, I want to come in with a troupe of documented success and best practices, really activating that peer-to-peer learning.” —Adriana Gil Miner @Iterable Share on X “We could make a bunch of noise. We could talk about how we've always been AI. We could build some thought leadership about the things that you should do. But what I wanted to do was deliver product.” —Chris Willis @Acrolinx Share on X “You need to know what content you have, wrap it in governance, and then build models based from there.” —Chris Willis @Acrolinx Share on X “Meet customers where they are, show real value, and then do a great job telling customer stories.” —Andrew Bennett, @Smartsheet Share on X “PR works when you have some unique perspective that's really well aligned with what's happening already in the news cycle.” —Andrew Bennett, @Smartsheet Share on X

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Adriana Gil Miner, Chris Willis, and Andrew Bennett

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audiobook by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.
And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout-out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months ago to make this show even better, and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at and tell her Drew sent you.
Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals.

Drew Neisser:  Unless you’ve been hiding under an especially large rock, you’ve no doubt heard the buzz around AI and specifically about large learning models (LLM) and ChatGPT. In fact, if you haven’t already been playing with those tools, get on it now. In the last six months ChatGPT has been used by over 100 million people making it one of the fastest growing businesses in history for marketers. Experimentation is the watchword as they navigate between the obvious productivity gains and potential risks like copyright infringement getting dinged by Google, possibly factual errors, and sometimes often mediocre content. So no doubt the buzz around generative AI will continue. But what we haven’t talked about on this show or in CMO Huddles is how software companies are baking AI into their products, which could end up being even bigger, particularly for marketers, then generative AI, we’ll find out and it’s kind of an AI gold rush. And on today’s shows, we have three companies who’ve announced AI integrations with great expectations. So with that, let’s bring on Adriana Gil Miner, CMO of Iterable. Hello.

Adri Gil Miner: Hi, Drew, how are you?

Drew Neisser: I’m doing great thank you. Where are you this fine day?

Adri Gil Miner: Well, this beautiful morning I’m in sunny Seattle enjoying a really freak summer weather right now it’s 80 degrees.

Drew Neisser: Oh, no liquid sunshine, which Seattle was famous for. Okay, let’s talk about what’s been your most memorable introduction to AI thus far.

Adri Gil Miner: I have a good story for you. I’m the type of CMO who loves technology and likes to discover it on my own. So I had the opportunity with all this ChatGPT and all these new generative AI technologies that you can develop images and stuff to actually help my mother who is amazing, by the way, she’s a former CIO. She has a coaching company here in the US and it’s geared towards the Hispanic audience. So I told her I was like, “Hey, let me help you out.” And I just took a very timebox experimentation on a Sunday. And in three hours, I went from absolutely nothing. And I used only AI tools to do this. To come up with a name, and create a logo, I created a website and did all the copy through ChatGPT, I was shocked by the amount of things I could accomplish in just under three hours. Now, of course, it’s the MVP, it’s not that great. But honestly, it was a great way for me to just get hands on. And it really shifted my mind about the potential. And what could this mean, of course, lots of questions, and definitely took that to my team. There are lots of great experiments that we’re doing here and my team because I think everybody just like we were in social media over a decade ago, that really changed the game, it is important for every marketer out there to just get that hands-on experience and just try it out. I had that opportunity. It was really fun to share. Also on LinkedIn, what I did, and I got so many questions like, what didn’t you do, what tools, What was good? It’s led to an interesting experimentation, right?

Drew Neisser: Well, there’s so many takeaways of that, that I think are so important. One is you have to use the tools personally. And it helped that you had a specific assignment just playing with it, you didn’t get anywhere, but you needed to get a website up and running. MVP, for anybody who’s unfamiliar, Minimum Viable Product. I think I’m looking at generative AI as the equivalent of when personal computers first came out and Lotus 123 came out, suddenly, these tools are accessible in an unbelievable way. And it’s now gotten to a point where it’s like, not what can you do, but what can you do with generative AI, which happens to be facts and basic things like that, like addition? Not so good. It’s funny, I was at a conference yesterday on AI, and it was just mind-boggling as folks were using it to generate ads.

Adri Gil Miner: I’ve seen full campaigns being driven on that. But again, lots of interesting things like, how much does it augment versus replay? What can he do you were bringing up before copyright. That’s lots of questions there. Even as a really young person. You’re right. I think whenever new technology comes up, what is always true is to not fear it, but lean in and discover it and try to understand it. I remember I was like around 15-16 and I was actually helping my father, I was his EA doing some proposals. And at the time, Harvard Graphics, for those of you who are as old as me was like the new hot software to do graphic design. I just took it upon myself to learn it just so that I could help my father create a logo and a subhead and everything for his RFP for his proposals versus company. That was actually the first time I got paid for something because I did a client logo in Venezuela in harbor graphic and they wanted like a floppy disk. So it goes to show many, many years later, I’m still the same person who was always interested in like, how can technology help us do our jobs better? That’s my introduction to AI, I guess the same as everything else.

Drew Neisser: Well, and I love it in a key term. And this was the term that was sort of the headline at the conference. It’s about augmentation, it’s not about replacement. Okay. Now, let’s get into how you are at Iterable, how your company is starting to look at AI, and how you’re baking it, it frames it for us is this an evolutionary or a revolutionary upgrade?

Adri Gil Miner: I think it is both. And let me back up a second to just quickly introduce it a role where customer communication platform. And so what we do is help companies use channels like email, SMS, in-app messaging, and everything to engage their customers and activate them and whatever action they need. That’s what we do. And so if you think about essentially managing a lifecycle of engagement with a customer, everything from like the first time they come in, or they onboard, and all of those messages, whether they’re automatic service-oriented, or transaction messages, or email campaigns, or specific SMS campaigns, like maybe when they exit your relationship, there is a lot of opportunity there to bring in data, create content, as you’re saying, then optimize and measure. And in that flow of what I would call, connect with the data, the sign the experience, measure and optimize the experience, and then go back again, you have lots of opportunity for AI. So the portion we’ve actually had aI functionality for a while and we know AI has been around for a long time. So there are some things where we look at in that lifecycle, where can we augment what we are already doing? I’ll give you an example. We have some tools around predictive goals, which is a customized model for any type of prediction you want to do that, to me is an OG integration of the things that we can do. But we also have things like frequency optimization or next best action, these are features that really take on maybe showing the marketer what they couldn’t necessarily see in a very real-time right away. It might take you months, it might take you collaboration with data science and all that stuff to actually get that. So that’s revolutionary because it really changes the fact when you can see, like, what is this adjustment? What is the next thing I can do to engage with an audience that is very different in terms of our whole process? So in those types of things, we say, Hey, these are features that are going to revolutionize the way that you do work. So I think it’s a balance of both. And that’s where I leave it, we announced the next generation of our platform at our conference recently activating lots of activities there. At this point, when we look at the full flow of what we announced, we can claim that we have the most comprehensive amount of AI capabilities in Martec.

Drew Neisser: In our space, there’s so much hype around AI, that it’s really hard, I think, for prospects and customers to sort this out. And I think baking this in such that the customer doesn’t really see it, it just feels like the right thing to do. Is that sort of what you’re doing? It’s like it’s in a workflow that they’re already using their product. And then suddenly, it’s just better.

Adri Gil Miner: Yeah, I would say both. And in some cases, yes. And we don’t charge additional fees for many of the AI features that are just part of the flow, as you say, versus Yes, there are some services that are added on that are more visible. I think like any marketer, it is important to ride the wave of the new things that are coming. And so AI is exciting like it’s been around for a long time. But now we have an adoption, we have a moment in time where people are interested in so I think it would be foolish for any company not to take advantage of that. Having said that, if you don’t pay it off with real applicability, real features are real capabilities, and actually are helpful and not just gimmicky. That’s when it can be counterproductive. Many software companies are riding the wave of attention and interest in AI. So the way that we announced this was I didn’t want to start with any thought leadership or any marketing campaigns or anything on AI until we had something concrete to announce. So start product where product companies start with product announcements, and then build out from there, the campaign around that. Marketers are smart, we smell BS. So that’s my approach.

Drew Neisser: Got it. All right. I have lots more questions, but we’re going to keep moving bring on Chris Willis, who is the CMO and chief pipeline Officer of Acrolinx and star of episode 30 of the predecessor to this show, Renegade Marketers Live. Hello, Chris, wonderful to see you again. And how are you? And where are you?

Chris Willis: I am sitting in my home office in Still Massachusetts.

Drew Neisser: What was your first intro to AI?

Chris Willis: I’m sure that the first was the way that Spotify built my playlists, which is fantastic. They know me really well. But probably joining this company from a business standpoint. Agrilinks has been AI since before AI was cool. Because I really became cool. Three weeks ago, the company was born in in an artificial intelligence lab in Germany, and grew up in the AI and NLP space to the point where when I got here, I said why don’t we not say that in our marketing? Because it’s not very differentiating. There are so many companies saying we’re AI, “We use AI, what does that mean?” Talk about the value that you deliver from the technology that you sell, don’t just tell me that you’re AI.

Drew Neisser: What led up to your recent announcement? And why was it important to get this new product, if you will, into the market?

Chris Willis: Obviously listen to what it said. And some of that rings true to me as well, I think there’s something happening. And we could make a bunch of noise, we could talk about how we’ve always been AI, we could build some thought leadership about the things that you should do, what I wanted to do was deliver product. So the way that I describe it internally is that usually, you do this build-up to an announcement. We’re going to build product we’re going to announce, and then we’re going to catch up with the marketing. The reason was that our customers need what we have always done now more than ever, a big part of what we’ve delivered in the form of AI enrich, which is a new feature set. And our product is leveraging the governance around content that we’ve always provided. It sounds great to develop content with a robot. You’ve already talked about all the intrinsic issues associated with that. There are so many issues in the new term AI poisoning where the large language model is actually altered or trained on manipulated data for negative purposes. There are all kinds of things that can happen that come out and incorrect, improper malicious results. So this need to identify and eliminate the risk associated with your use of language models has to be there, you can’t start getting the value of this without wrapping it in enterprise-grade governance. And that’s what we’ve delivered the ability to tune the model to your content and do that without putting your content out into the world. We’ve seen companies that have put their content out into the world private content, secret content, and then burned for it. So how do I not put this out into the public domain? How do I work within the walls of my building? How do I manage access to this, I might have a model that is built around, tuned around my product information, and specifically product information that hasn’t been released to the world yet. And then I’ve got an intern over here writing blog articles pulling out of this model, is that okay? It’s not okay. You need to know what content you have rapidly and governance, and then build models based from there.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. So, Andrew, use the term ride the way but what we’re really talking about is building a good board or a better board to ride the wave. In order for this to work as a marketer. As always, whatever this new promise is, you have to make it real with a product. You can’t just say, “We have AI.”

Chris Willis: The size of the companies that we work with, the Fortune 1000 companies have said, “Yeah, it’s a no for us, we do not use ChatGPT at work.” Okay, well, that’s not real. We’re all employed. And this is a thing that I want to do. So people are going to do it and we want to provide those businesses with a safe approach, a risk-free approach to the use of this new technology, there’s value there, let’s help you get the value. But let’s do it the right way.

Drew Neisser: I visited a large packaged goods company that happened to be based in the north shore of Chicago. And it was around the time that the internet was coming out. The company said employees couldn’t access the internet because they were worried about wasting their time. Now, can you imagine that notion it feels absurd, right? To me, that statement that you just said feels equally absurd. “You can’t use these tools.” This is as big as the internet if not bigger. So what you’re basically doing is guaranteeing that your employees are going to be a year or two years behind all their competitors because of your fear of that. What you’re doing here is you’re talking about, there are risks associated with it, you’re still in the content game, you still need to do this stuff. If you are gonna wake up and let your employees start to use this as an augmentation tools. You’ll still need governance. So you’re jumping in. So how did this product sort of get to market? And what role did marketing play that helped you get it there?

Chris Willis: I definitely was part of the bell-ringing process. We have a great R&D organization sitting over in Berlin, Germany. And one of the things as a company that we’ve given to the team was the ability to spend 20%, of your time on a passion project. And we found some people that had a passion. And we got the initial build of this outside of our regular product cycle. And that was what led us to move really quickly. So several really smart product people and engineers, putting everything into this package of functionality, and then turning it into the thing that we deliver. So stage one was to get a demo of something working stage. Two was to build that whole thing out and start making it work. And now we’re accepting applications into the beta program. As we speak, we get new applications every day, it’s exciting to see the companies coming in wanting to experience this. The interesting thing about it is the first step of that is implementing part of our product that does that governance, our collection tool that allows you to identify the content that you want to train with. And then training on that content so that you can have one or many versions of the model based on what you’re creating, who you’re creating it for, and what the content you want to pull for. And then you’re using that content, not just to build models and write, but to pull back responses and automatically improve existing content. So I can make the content that I have today better than the content that we’ve already built.

Drew Neisser: With the companies that are current customers, I’m imagining who wants to use the beta, is this going to be an upgrade, just an enhancement, a new feature set that they have to pay more for?

Chris Willis: Early days.

Drew Neisser: Okay, but I’m imagining that the key target initially is existing customers?

Chris Willis: It’s definitely one channel, but we’re seeing it from all directions right now.

Drew Neisser: Can you get new customers because they see the governance problem already because they’re using it? So this is the interesting part. If you’re not using this, if you’re not using generative AI you don’t know the problem that you’re describing, right?

Chris Willis: I would argue yes. Trying to get somebody to understand The purpose of enterprise content governance is like marketing medicine. explain to you that you’re sick. And then I need to show you that there is a cure to being sick, generative AI made it clear to you that there is an issue, and that you need to address that it came out, this is fantastic. I want to play with this, tell me how to write a document, and go write this document for me. And then the email came from IT. And it said, By the way, do not use the company name, do not use it on a company computer, do not share any company information, and do not create company content with it. How do I use it then? I need a governance model. I need some way to govern this content. And to create a risk-free environment. I gotta go talk to those guys. They’ve been talking about governance for five years. Oh, this makes sense now.

Drew Neisser: This is so interesting, this conference that I was at yesterday, we all felt like we were at the beginning of something really important. And I think what’s so interesting about what you just said is, AI is going to create a lot of great things. But it’s also going to create a lot of problems and a lot of opportunities. And so as a marketer to think about, particularly if you’re in the software world, you need to be thinking about how is AI going to impact your business. And how do we use it to make our product better or address new problems? And then I’m just going to throw out a complete counterpoint that I think is going to make a difference. People are going to start to say human-made next to their comment, their copy versus it’s no filter on Instagram, but hashtag human-made is going to be a thing. Just saying just for the record, I wanted to be on air having said hashtag human-made. Okay, speaking of that, now we’re gonna move on to Andrew Bennett, CMO of Smartsheet. Hello, Andrew.

Andrew Bennett: Hey, Drew, how are you doing?

Drew Neisser: I’m doing great. So where are you?

Andrew Bennett: I’m enjoying an unseasonably warm May in Seattle. It’s been beautiful, although I am mourning the recent playoff loss of the Kraken a couple of days ago, but it was a great run.

Drew Neisser: Well, we’ve had similar issues here in New York so we can be empathetic to that. So do you have a sort of first or memorable introduction to AI in your world?

Andrew Bennett: I certainly do. From a Gen AI standpoint, we also have used AI in our product for years in a variety of ways. But I would say my “aha moment”, with generative AI came I think like a lot of people in the few weeks after ChatGPT launched, I had done sort of the standard playing around with the tool. I think my first prompt was something like write a poem to the Smartsheet leadership team in the voice of Shakespeare, wishing them a good weekend. It was interesting. A few days later, my head of demand gen sent me some output where he had gone many steps further. The prompt was something like, “Create a four-email outreach sequence explaining the benefits of moving to the Smartsheet advanced plan, incorporating the value points on the following webpage.” And I was blown away. Again, it wasn’t perfect. But not only was the content dead on but it was formatted like an email merge fields inserted in the right places. That was certainly the eye-opener for me about the specific impact that Gen AI is going to have.

Drew Neisser: Just the formatting ability, which is again, that’s the next part of discovery when you get into these tools is that you can tell it format this I can email that’s going to go out with that, not just write an email, but format it so that I can drop this and you can tell the system that you want to drop it into and it will organize it. So talk about your Smartsheet and where AI was.

Andrew Bennett: So Smartsheet is the platform for work management. All kinds of businesses use us for a ton of different uses from Roche managing COVID testing capacity early in the pandemic to the McLaren Formula One team using us to manage digital assets over a race weekend, all the way down to really simple SMB use cases like plumbers who manage their schedules in Smartsheet. Right huge range of use cases. And we’ve always really thought about using AI in a way that augments the work that people are doing, as opposed to asking them to fundamentally change the way they work to use this new set of tools. And so some of our usage of AI over the years hasn’t even been noticeable. But it’s things like when you go to your home tab in Smartsheet, you see a list of work that we think you might want to work on. And that’s all been driven by an AI model, right? So you’re looking at different dashboards and reports based on an AI model. And it just works. Another example if I think of the McLaren use, which over the course of a race weekend was really, really active on social media. They come away from a weekend with literally terabytes of video and imagery and they manage that all in our digital asset management platform. They have a ton of sponsors. And there are I think 48 logos on that race car, and it’s very common that a sponsor says, “Hey, I want to see imagery from the past weekend that shows my logo.” You can’t do that in a workable way with humans. We have an AI model that recognizes logos in imagery, and in a fully automated way allows them to say, show me all the instances of dark trace from the race last weekend, right? So we’ve really tried to be thoughtful about incorporating AI in a way that sort of fits into existing workflows. And so now with the new large language models and Gen AI, there are a bunch of new possibilities. Yeah, maybe there is a chat assistant inside Smartsheet. But again, we’re trying to be more thoughtful about how are people actually doing their work. And how do we use AI to do things like connect a new user with a template in some sample data that’s more relevant to the problem that they’re trying to solve? Or there are ways that these new models can much more intelligently tag imagery, right, I gave the example of specific logos, but being able to, in a fully automated way, generate text descriptions of a wide range of content, one challenge in a lot of tools today that allow for more complex uses, is there a formulas involved? Right? So in Smartsheet, you can do a lot of work, just configuring things, for some of the more complex uses, you’re using formulas. And it turns out these large language models are really good at helping with formulas. I don’t know if you’ve ever asked for help with an Excel formula. Even the relatively untrained default ChatGPT model is really good at that stuff. So things like giving people help with a formula, those kinds of use cases are what we’re really focused on.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. And I was just thinking about it, because it’s funny, I was doing something on Canva. And I didn’t know how Canva described a particular brochure thing. And so I went on to ChatGPT and said, What does Canva do for a single folded thing? And the answer was, of course, bifold boom, done. And that was two seconds. Whereas if I had tried to go to whatever their helpline, I couldn’t find it because you don’t know the vocabulary, you just can’t do it. And I’m so I’m imagining there’s going to be this interesting thing where people who know ChatGPT may be going to ChatGPT and just already saying, hey, I need this formula to use in Smartsheet. So suddenly, I’m now also thinking, Well, what if they have that wrong? And so part of this thing, and Chris sort of brought up the AI poisoning is you need to do the opposite. I feel like marketers now need to be thinking about how to make sure the right formulas are in there.

Andrew Bennett: Just like the risks of AI written content, right? I think we all know today that no, you can’t just have the AI write blog posts for you. And all of a sudden, you’re gonna rank for the terms that you’re asking it to write about. It’s got to be curated. It’s got to be unique. It’s got to be human-checked for errors. And absolutely the same is true of formulas in a work management platform or templates that you’re serving up with sample data.

Drew Neisser: There’s going to be this moment, but suddenly, I really think that anybody’s using a ChatGPT is everybody’s helpdesk, the notion that you could have their API sitting on top of yours as a different way of providing customer service kind of makes sense.

Andrew Bennett: It does, but how can we meet people where they are and actually provide unique value? You can go to ChatGPT today, and ask questions about Smartsheet. And it does a damn good job. So us just surfacing that same window inside the app. Yeah, whatever you got AI now. But it’s not actually that helpful relative to what’s already out there. We have things like a really active online community of Smartsheet users who are helping each other out. And there’s an incredibly rich amount of data there, and these LLM models do a really good job pulling up the nuggets. So we’re thinking about things like for more specific, maybe somewhat more structured content, like a community site? How do we do a better job surfacing that in the app in a way that you’re not going to get when you just go to ChatGPT?

Drew Neisser: I think I shared with everyone in the CMO Huddles community, we created this virtual B2B CMO, we took all this data from the conversations of CMO Huddles over the last two years, and uploaded that and it sits above chat GPT, but the likelihood is the answer that you are going to get is going to be informed by it. So similarly, there’s going to be all sorts of integrations. I did want to make sure because I may have missed it. But what is the latest in terms of how people can use AI in your tool?

Andrew Bennett: The latest is some stuff that’s announced and some stuff that isn’t announced yet.

Andrew Bennett: So some further refinements to the AI models that have been in place like a lot of the image recognition work, a lot of the engines for suggesting content that is relevant to you inside Smartsheet, and then a lot of work in process on things like a better way to get help with Smartsheet better ways to get help with formulas. And we think of this as sort of inherent in the product so we do not anticipate an AI module, right? There are already different modules in Smartsheet, you can manage your work, you can manage your people, you can manage your assets, each of those have some AI today, and we’ll have more AI in the future. We also have more advanced tiers for things like bigger enterprises that are focused on security, compliance, and control. And so there may be some AI functionality that exists only in those higher tiers. But it is definitely not a separate set of skews.

Drew Neisser: Well, and it makes sense because all it does is the same promise only better. So you’re not creating something that is different at the moment. It’s fluoride, and it’s soon, it’s gonna be fluoride.

Andrew Bennett: Our platform has always been about enabling people to be a lot more productive. Some ways are really simple. Some of them do have to do with things like workflow and automation. And so you’re allowing people not to be replaced by the robots, but to accomplish so much more, because you’re making them that much more productive. And so you can build an automation rule and now you have AI that just makes all that work so much more scalable and so much more productive.

Drew Neisser> Augmentation. Okay, so it’s time for me to talk about CMO Huddles, launched in 2020. CMO Huddles is an exclusive community of over 100 highly effective B2B CMOs, who share care and dare each other to greatness. Once CMO described Huddles as a cross between an executive workshop and a therapy session, and given how hard things are getting out there who doesn’t need a little reassurance that they’re not alone? Everything about CMO Huddles is designed to be a force multiplier, helping you to make faster, better, and more informed decisions. Since no CMO can outs work this crazy job CMO Huddles is here to help you outsmart it. So Chris, Adriana, Andrew—Chris, let’s start with you because you’re a veteran hustler. And I’m just curious from you, if there is a moment whether you can recall whether it was a recap that inspired some action that helped you move your business forward.

Chris Willis: I think one of the nice things is that Huddles goes beyond the actual meetings. And I was setting out a year and a half ago to start building a new category for our technology. I was able to form a breakout group out of the Huddles, take it offline into the real world, and work together to get best practices from a bunch of different CMOs that I would otherwise not know. That’s a huge value. Having that network that you’ve created is really important to the way that I go about business. I don’t know if you see me in Slack, but I’m in a lot of contact with the people who are in the group on a regular basis.

Drew Neisser: And you are definitely on that giving and getting value spectrum and Andrian. Andrew, you’re both relatively new to Huddles. So I’m just wondering if you’ve had an aha moment thus far, or Huddles is able to bring some value or insight to your world.

Andrew Bennett: I am brand spanking new. This is actually my first CMO Huddles event. And so I would say already have gotten some great insights from Andrea and from Chris, and also to the point of the value in establishing really strong peer relationships. Adriana and I are both in Seattle. And we’ve already agreed that we’re going to get together. So there you go.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that. Okay. And Adriana, anything to add?

Adri Gil Miner: I’m glad that you mentioned that ChatGPT to upload, I didn’t realize that but I haven’t been able to come to any of the meetings. So this is also my first one. But I have used the recap, section and one specifically that we looked at my team, you had some recaps around customer marketing that had some tips on questions to interview customers for testimonials. So that was a resource we used. I shared it with my team. Now, Mike, oh, because that took me a little while. So I think it’s great the recaps because our schedules are crazy. So it’s good to have the documentation. So now I’m going to try your ChatGPT and ask ChatGPT about CMO Huddles.

Drew Neisser: Awesome. At any point in time, if you come up with an issue like that, chances are we’ve covered it in the last three years. And we have a whole archive of and we’re more than happy to pull those out. So if you’re a B2B CMO who can share, care, and dare with the best of them, come on down, check out CMO And tell them drew sent you. All right. So the AI noise is deafening, it’s just everywhere. It’s every headline. It’s everything. And the hype cycle is beyond even what we faced with .com companies so how are you hoping to cut through with all this noise and how do you make sure that people actually find out that this bait opportunity exists?

Chris Willis: Sure. You differentiate your message for starters, we’re different. So we’re talking about a governance message that I think most vendors are talking about. Everybody’s got a way to use and defend it from the generative aspect we have that we’re doubling down on creating safe you And we’re doing that through our messaging through PR. We’ve actually been on TV recently, we’re having a lot of luck getting this news out because this is an important aspect of what the enterprise is looking to do. It’s multiple channels of outreach to get this news out to the audience.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I’m thinking about 60 minutes Lesley Stahl report on generative AI at the beginning, and it was mainly about fear. It was like, “Oh, my God, this is terrible. We gotta regulate this tomorrow.” And with every new opportunity, there’s always the fear of that opportunity. So I get it that you focusing on how you manage the risk makes a lot of sense. So Adri, how are you approaching the story that you’re telling about AI?

Adri Gil Miner: By the way, Chris, I think that’s really smart, I think it’s really great to be talking about governance, because that is what we need, right? We are taking the opposite. We are going I would say from the ground up. So our approach has been to focus on customers first, like I said, then on product features, first, get some documentation on success. For example, again at activate, we use showcase,, and Redfin, which are some of our, what we call our design partner customers that have been in the early alpha and testing of that, and really building the community motion around the applicability of AI, going that kind of like word of mouth and activating it that way. Because like I said, like, by the time that we really want to put sort of like, I would say, the high-level campaign and high level more marketing, I want to come with already a troupe of documented success, best practices, and really activating that peer to peer learning. So that’s our approach of how we’re trying to cut through the noise.

Drew Neisser: So we’ve got sort of one is play up into the manage the affairs to make a real and make sure that you have real cases and real things before you do it. And Andrew, how are you making sure that you’re cutting through?

Andrew Bennett: Yeah, I think to build on that last point, really making sure first of all, that we’re informing our product plans, and that what we’re shipping is actually meeting customers where they are and enhancing the ways that they’re working, as opposed to ask him to work in a different way. And then just like we always try to do when we’re marketing well understand your customers and understand value and tell relevant customer stories. Hopefully, when I give my McLaren example of how to manage assets, yes, I can say, we have an AI model that identifies things in imagery. But when I tell the story of coming back from a race weekend with terabytes worth of data and having a sponsor ask you for pictures of their logo on the car, hopefully, that message lands. And so when we think more about meeting customers where they are, show real value, and then do a great job telling customer stories.

Drew Neisser: Is there anything that you’re doing in terms of differently, Chris, you mentioned press, I imagine there’s a moment where the press headlines, great another AI story, but for the moment, it’s a feeding frenzy. So is press more important at this moment?

Chris Willis: I think that there’s a lot of conversation happening. The day that we appeared on the news was the day that the President met with the AI folks to talk about regulation. And that is a huge news story. So the ability to jump onto that story and be additive to that with a governance message is a really interesting opportunity for a company like us. So I think that getting into that news stream, differentiating yourself, and being a go-to resource has been a really valuable approach for us.

Drew Neisser: How about you, Andrew? Andrew, is there something new in your marketing mix as you’re going through or something that you’re emphasizing more that you would have not been able to do if we weren’t in the hype cycle?

Adri Gil Miner: I think this goes actually with Chris, it’s just the other side of the coin is like when there’s something new like people are looking around and there is a lot of interest. So what are the things that people turn to their trusted sources? And those are going to be word of mouth and their peers, which is why I said we’re really emphasizing that community or peer-to-peer, word-of-mouth motion. Or you see it in the news and sort of interest which I think that’s great. Andrew’s approach, I believe is the right one, but to me is like it is an opportunity to really go where people are going and so think of what we do we read news to get information or we talk to our friends. How are you doing? What does this mean? We’re learning from each other. I mean, just this conversation? Sure. I took a ton of notes about things to think about and do with AI in my own like marketing team, not as a provider but as a practitioner. That’s why the other side of the coin, I would still call it kind of like PR and communications overall, but our focus is on word-of-mouth peer-to-peer learning.

Drew Neisser: Got it. And again, that’s complete with your sort of community up let’s get people using it, embracing it. Let’s get the cases let’s make sure We’re that what we’re talking about is not smoke. You’re all marketers to marketers here? Because they’re part of this moment, too. Right? I mean, they’re also thinking, Oh, how are we using AI. And I feel like this moment in time, for companies like yourself, who are marketing to marketers, there’s got to be a huge expectation that you’re also going to be integrating these tools. And you’re going to be making them easier and more intuitive and faster and better. There’s pressure, I imagined to do this to get news out.

Andrew Bennett: PR works when you have some unique perspective that’s really well aligned with what’s kind of happening already in the news cycle. And so you take AcuraLink, they’ve got a really great, unique perspective around things like compliance, and that lands really well when there are conversations happening actively about how do we make sure that AI doesn’t get totally out of control. For me, I think about when do we have some unique perspective, that’s well aligned with some narrative that’s out there. And for now, we’re really focused on building the right value points for our customers, and then it will pounce when we see the right window.

Drew Neisser: And it all makes sense. I mean, Smartsheet has a huge installed base economy is kind of tough. If you can bring these to market for your existing customers, and they feel good about you, then they’re more likely to stay or use you more or expand. So all of that makes sense in terms of the strategy that you two are taking. I’m curious. Now, in terms of how are you and your teams looking at these tools? How far have you gone? Is anybody thinking about creating ads, using these tools? At this point?

Andrew Bennett: Yes, we’re looking at creating ads, we’re looking at using these tools not as sole content creators, but as a way to help us create content in a more efficient way, both with the written word and with imagery, a whole nother realm of what’s really important inside marketing, which is not about Gen AI. But AI more broadly, is the impact that all the AI models are having on how we advertise and how we target and had a really deep conversation with our Google team yesterday about massive changes to how we’re going to run our campaigns based on some of the newer AI technology. So that’s at the very front of mind.

Drew Neisser: Also, were any of you facing any kind of resistance from your writers in particular, I know this came up yesterday at the conferences, some writers are resisting the tools. And I’m just curious if that’s been anything that you’ve seen so far.

Chris Willis: I have not. Okay. Our team in our content organization is relatively small, with high requirements for derivative content from big pieces. And that’s how they’ve begun to use generative AI is to take those masterpieces, the premium content, and build those derivatives, whether that’s email cadences, mini books, or landing pages, where we’ve already done the work. Now, we just did a bunch of things. So it minimizes additional editorial because we’ve already created and gone through editorial, we’re just quickly pumping out the things that need to accompany this bigger piece of content so that we can do a more bigger piece of content.

Adri Gil Miner: Yeah, I agree. And I will say one thing that we’re doing in my team too, and we have done email, and actually, we use it to for Excel formulas and generating some code, you know, like, a lot of our marketers may not have that likeability right away. But it is to showcase it after that whole, like Sunday tech test that I did, we talked about, hey, let’s take this month, and everybody in the team is going to take one task with ChatGPT this month, and just try it out, do something and then let’s have a sharing. So you can also make it fun if there are any reasons and find anything in my team. But definitely, the way that we’re talking about it is like, it’s sort of regardless of this job, it’s really good for your career and career development. So let’s make it a team professional development effort. Let’s go and experiment and try out things and then come and share with one another because then the learning about those tools is augmented, but not just on the individual. But as a team, we become way more proficient and we find more and more applications about it. And also, we’re finding a lot of limitations, to be honest, you know, lead to your point about like things about uniqueness. And we’ve done some experiments with SEO. And again, it has some limitations, because also how the Google algorithm is picking up let’s get generated by or not. So I think like what I’ve seen is it’s not about one or two cases is about really empowering and opening the door and inviting the whole team to let’s learn on this together and figure out it together because it is very early like especially with generative AI, it is early if that’s important to keep in mind as robust as it feels. It is also very early so we’re yet to discover how it’s really going to be applied. How do we govern it? How do we secure it? My biggest concern, frankly, is how do we manage in this experimentation phase. Like, it’s very unclear how all these between copyrights and security is going to be managed particularly with ChatGPT.

Drew Neisser: I’ve been wondering about it because we had a bonus Huddle first with Noah Brier, and then with Nicole Leffer. And what you realize when Nicole was in here was really hands-on, is that the group that was listening to that we’re taking notes furiously, because none of them had gotten to the point where they knew even how to write the prompt that would get there. And this is the part that I’m really wondering about is whether or not every marketer is going to need to have a dedicated AI person who just knows the latest on prompts and how to do it, it’s going to be hard to keep up.

Andrew Bennett: I feel like there are going to be some more technical uses, where you’re probably going to need to have specialists, I think it’s gonna be like, are you able to use a computer? We had some pushback from our writers really early, like maybe January-ish. But today, it’s so clear that it’s like the equivalent of should I use this new thing called a word processor? The answer is yes, of course, your days are going to look different than it did when you were using a typewriter. But there is no choice but to embrace it.

Adri Gil Miner: We don’t know what we don’t know. And that’s the issue that I’m trying to get out here.

Adri Gil Miner: You mentioned building a better board that’s a quotable right there and look with other technologies, we have the concept of COEs or Center of Excellence, I’m with Andrew like, the whole power here is that it’s democratizing and it’s like a tool that everybody can use. And it has a ton of applications. So I think it would be a mistake to try to centralize the prompts and stuff. But on the other side, could organizations have some kind of Center of Excellence, where you have some training, and some best practices that are specific to that company? And to those departments and functions? Yeah, absolutely. Wouldn’t be great to have that sort of high support. Yeah, why not? Try that.

Drew Neisser: Training, training training. Just keep in mind, you’re gonna have to do it every three months. Whereas we used to do it once a year or twice, hey a new tool, learn it, done.

Drew Neisser: I always ask what would Ben Franklin say, and I have a quick story on this. So it’s 1780s. Franklin is in Paris. And the first hot air balloon actually flies over the city. And Franklin’s looking up in wonder, as at this point, an old man, and he hears somebody say, God, this is so stupid. I mean, what good is this? And Franklin’s instantaneous response was, “What good is a baby?” And I love that because this is a baby. And this is something that it’s going to grow up into something phenomenal, whether you’re baking it into your products, or how you’re going to use it.

Drew Neisser: So with that, let’s get to some final words of wisdom. If a company is thinking about adding AI enhancements to their product or service, what’s the number one lesson you’ve learned related to this exercise? And let’s start with Chris.

Chris Willis: Reduce your risk, manage the risk, and include governance in your process.

Drew Neisser: Right, there he is, he gets his sales message into the end. All right, Andrew,

Andrew Bennett: You use these technologies to enhance the way people work. Don’t ask them to fundamentally change the way they work.

Drew Neisser: It’s just so much easier, right? You’re already doing this. It’s just gonna be better. Okay. And Adri?

Adri Gil Miner: Don’t do it alone. Lean on others, learn from others share what you learned.

Drew Neisser: So when you’re talking about in terms of baking your product, is this making sure that you’re part of a community that’s also doing this?

Adri Gil Miner: Yeah, absolutely. I think like marketing and brands, and every profession is one of the most important things that when you’re a marketer, you’re trying to do things. It’s like you’re in a team. And you have to learn to cross-collaborate, and really bring it together. So as a product, like when you’re trying to design your experiences and trying to do it, this is not about you, as an individual alone. You don’t have to do it alone. You can work with others and AI can help you better work with others.

Drew Neisser: There it is. You don’t have to do it alone. All right, the big word here is augmentation, make what you’re doing better. I think that’s really the insight of the whole show. But thank you, Adriana, Chris, Andrew, your great sports.

If you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to hear more conversations like this one, find out if you qualify to join our community of sharing, caring, and daring CMOs at hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits
Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!