November 8, 2023

How Generative AI Can Augment Your Annual Marketing Planning Process

By Mushter Moin
Head of Growth Innovation
Connect with me on LinkedIn

Last week, I had the honor of participating in the 2023 Gramercy Institute Forum panel on artificial intelligence in financial marketing. As a panelist, I engaged in thought-provoking discussions around the current and future implications of AI for financial services institutions’ marketing strategies and operations. This blog post represents some key takeaways and perspectives coming out of the forum.

While financial services institutions are starting to apply generative AI for tactical uses like chatbots and content creation, most are just scratching the surface of AI's true transformative potential for marketing. Rather than narrowly focusing on front-end applications and low hanging fruit operational efficiencies, forward-thinking marketing leaders should explore how generative AI can meaningfully augment strategic planning. This includes tightening the alignment between high-level strategies and tactical activation across the entire value chain of full funnel growth marketing operations. AI has the capability to enhance many facets of planning, not just provide incremental improvements in execution. Marketing teams that fail to think more expansively about generative AI risk missing the tremendous value it can unlock when applied to strategy, ideation, and cross-functional alignment.

The annual marketing planning process is a critical yet often cumbersome undertaking for many B2B organizations. As Forrester research highlights, marketing leaders face challenges gathering the right inputs across sales, product, and other groups and synthesizing insights into actionable plans. This frequently results in misalignment between corporate priorities and marketing execution. However, new advances in generative AI present an opportunity to make planning more productive and aligned.

Generative AI can rapidly analyze lengthy strategy documents, financial reports, customer research, and past plans to surface key themes, trends, and insights. This gives planners a helpful starting point for determining business objectives and marketing priorities. Additionally, by testing different goal and budget allocation combinations based on past performance data, the AI can provide projections on potential outcomes. This enables organizations to stress test plans before finalizing them.

One significant way generative AI can enhance planning is through a more collaborative and integrated approach. Rather than annual plans being developed by insular teams in a siloed process, AI algorithms can deliver customized recommendations for strategic priorities and resource allocation tailored to each marketing team’s unique situation. Instead of static PowerPoint decks, teams can have interactive engagement with Generative AI to refine strategies. Just think of just leveraging one capability of Generative AI to augment the planning process: Reasoning. Here are a few examples of how generative AI's reasoning capabilities (just one of many capabilities) could be applied to the annual marketing planning process:

· Goal Setting: The AI could take last year's goals and results, analyze performance trends, and provide reasoned suggestions for goal setting in next year's plan. It can point out areas of improvement or propose bolder goals based on its assessment.

· Budget Allocation: Given proposed initiatives for the next year and historical spending and performance data, the AI can logically reason about optimal budget allocation across channels, campaigns, etc. to maximize ROI.

· Campaign Strategy: When presented with audience and marketing objective data, the AI can suggest comprehensive cross-channel campaigns, logically thinking through optimal combinations of tactics.

· Performance Simulation: The AI can be given hypothetical strategies and then assess their projected performance through cause-effect reasoning, providing expected KPIs for proposed plans.

· Contingency Planning: When major assumptions behind a proposed plan are provided, the AI can foresee risks and suggest contingency plans or mitigation actions using counterfactual reasoning.

· New Idea Generation: By analyzing past strategies, competitive activity, and market trends, the AI can deductively reason to come up with creative new campaign ideas and opportunities.

· Explainability: At each step, the AI can explain the logical rationale behind its strategic recommendations, giving planners confidence.

By leveraging these AI reasoning capabilities, marketing leaders can thoroughly stress test and optimize plans as well as discover opportunities and angles they may have otherwise missed.

After plans are finalized, AI tools can create execution roadmaps translating strategies into coherent activities across channels. As campaigns launch, Generative-AI can be leveraged for performance tuning and recommend optimizations. This closed-loop integration can create a virtuous cycle where execution insights feed back into strategy refinement.

Ongoing governance is another area where AI shows promise. By continually feeding marketing data, generative algorithms can identify opportunities or issues and prompt mid-year plan adjustments as needed. This facilitates agility.

While generative AI cannot wholly replace human strategic planning, it can streamline tedious tasks and provide insights to enhance alignment. Generative AI should be viewed as a collaborator, augmenting teams throughout the annual planning cycle. With the right human guidance, AI-assisted planning can become a source of competitive advantage.

As the potential for generative AI to transform marketing planning becomes clearer, I'm excited to be exploring these possibilities first-hand. At TrueVoice, we are developing customized generative AI solutions specifically designed for marketing, sales, and revenue teams within highly regulated industries such as financial services. By leveraging large language models with added privacy policies, data protections, and model layers, our solution provides a safe space for financial services firms to adopt generative AI to drive growth strategy.

Our generative AI solution is tailored to enterprise go-to-market models, aiming to deliver strategic insights unattainable through generic solutions. It's designed to deeply understand organizational and industry nuances in order to unlock growth. I look forward to seeing how this technology can enhance alignment, efficiency, and growth for our clients. The future looks bright for generative AI to collaborate with marketers to achieve the impossible. Our clients are already experiencing enhanced alignment, efficiency, and growth thanks to this technology. With generative AI collaborating with marketers, we are achieving what once seemed impossible. I look forward to continuing this conversation and hearing your thoughts.