Tomorrow.io was arguably the first company to hire an AI-focused content role and it demonstrates how companies are embracing the technology.
It’s only been a few months since ChatGPT introduced generative AI and its content creation abilities to the world. Now, the first generative-AI content jobs are here.
To prepare for this story, I spent a few minutes googling “AI marketing jobs” and “AI content jobs.” I discovered a small handful of full-time roles like “Generative AI Growth Marketing Specialist” and “AI Content Specialist.” There are an even greater number of part-time and contractor-based roles in the same vein on sites like Upwork.
But that’s not all. If you explore enough traditional content-based marketing job openings, you’ll start to see companies seeking professionals who can write “feature articles that tells [sic] the client brand's story using AI,” and with qualifications like, “expertise in generative AI marketing and its applications in driving growth.”
Jasper recently surveyed 500 professionals across a wide variety of departments and role levels and found that well over half of those currently using generative AI will increase their budgets this year. They also listed creative writing and “brainstorming and idea generation” as two of the three primary use cases for generative AI (and the third being email marketing.) Based on this, my bet is that we’ll see many more job titles, role responsibilities and qualifications that openly incorporate generative AI this year.
However, there is something to be said for being first.
In late January, Dan Slagen, CMO at predictive weather intelligence company Tomorrow.io, put out a call on LinkedIn to share that his team was looking for an “AI Marketing Specialist” because “the future of marketing is knowing how to use AI to 1+1=3 everything.” I could be wrong but that specific role seemed to be the first ever generative AI-driven content position. Then in mid-March, after fielding dozens and dozens of diverse applications, the position was filled.
The official job post said this specialist will use generative AI to “create, manage, and distribute content across various marketing channels (website, social media, email campaigns.)” I spoke to Slagen and Tomorrow.io’s VP of Product Cole Swain about what went into their decision to be so intentional about hiring for an AI-minded marketing pro so early in the gen AI lifecycle. They said not only are they hoping that this new hire can capitalize on the efficiency of generative AI to be more productive and experimental in their role, but they hope this person can help set the foundation for gen AI’s eventual proliferation across the entire company.
Generative AI in both businesses and the public consciousness is spreading quickly but still in its relative infancy. So seeking a professional to leverage the technology is novel because using it was not an overnight switch for most people right away.
“It's a really hard behavioral change for anyone to get into because we're all so used to working without it for so long,” said Slagen.
Old habits die hard but Slagen said ChatGPT got him very interested in adapting to generative AI when he realized how capable it was in saving users time. But even still, the goal wasn’t initially to hire a gen AI expert. Slagen’s team needed more content marketing help, but the current economic climate has made it difficult for some companies to justify hiring new employees without a clear return on investment. So the team needed to bring someone in that could have an significant impact right away — and a role that incorporated AI’s time-saving capabilities was the answer.
“We didn't really sit down and say, ‘Let's do an AI marketing role,’” said Slagen. “The team spoke about the persona that we wanted to bring in and said, ‘Well, what if we find someone who is really passionate about the AI space, who has a 1+1=3 mindset?’ Then we started to get a lot more excited about the role before going full bore and saying, ‘Let's just call it an AI marketing role.’”
Once Slagen’s team decided that an AI-focused marketer was what they needed, it was time to inform executive leadership. Generative AI is still a contentious topic for some, so I asked the leader whether there was any red tape his team had to cut through to get this unique role listed.
“We had so many debates about the role within the marketing team that by the time we got to our people and culture team, they saw that we already thought through a lot of the potential issues or risks,” said Slagen. “One example was that it can look like a role that is exclusionary towards non-tech people, or older generations, which is one of the reasons we didn’t say that you need to have five years of AI background or something like that.”
He said there was no leniency toward essentially any other qualifiers outside of traditional marketing experience and a passion for the AI space based on the news of the last six to 12 months. All this helped convince other hiring stakeholders at Tomorrow.io that this was a viable move.
However, they weren’t looking for someone to just be a prompt machine that copies and pastes from a gen AI tool all day. In fact, one of the pillars of success in the role, according to the job description, was “knowing when to push Al further, knowing when to back off and be more human, but overall embracing the fact that thinking Al first before doing anything is the best way to 10x impact.”
With the right combination of AI-driven productivity and human-focused creativity, Slagen said generative AI can empower a single contributor to act like a whole team but not in a way that reduces the need to hire, which his team is clearly doing.
"It lets the true experts focus more in the areas where they want to have depth but didn't have the time before.”
“I'm not going to fire my designer just because there's design-based AI out there,” Slagen said. “But now I can have my designer focus on the areas where I need her most and use AI on areas that were sort of a waste of her time. And she'd be the first to say ‘Great, I would love to spend more time being really thoughtful and creative on this because I didn't have that ability in the past.’ It lets the true experts focus more in the areas where they want to have depth but didn't have the time before.”
Samyutha Reddy, Jasper’s head of enterprise marketing, reinforced this idea in a recent Hubspot interview. She said, “I've never met a content creator who has said, 'Wait. I really want to spend more time doing all the rote tasks of reading everything I need to know on the internet about a given topic.' AI will give marketers more time to be creative, form an opinion, and incorporate more data sources into their perspectives."
As more businesses embrace generative AI’s place in their teams — and companies like Microsoft, Google, Notion and others bake the technology into their products — the speed of business innovation can increase and gaps between market competitors can widen. It will happen slowly at first but if businesses are laggards in embracing the technology, it could mean their market position slips in the long run.
Slagen said he started his career doing Google AdWords and paid ads on a number of disparate systems. Then when automated platforms popped up to replace them, the purists shunned them “because it doesn't do X perfectly,” he said, and some fell behind.
“It didn't work out for those people because that wasn't the right mindset,” Slagen continued. “And I don't want to be on the wrong side of the AI world. I don't want us learning how to use it through reading about what other companies did, especially on the marketing team. We need to be on the forefront of our own advancement and not through reading case studies of other companies doing it because by then it's too late for us.”
“Even in examples where X isn’t perfect, there’s a probability that it will work better within the next six months because of the pace of change that we're seeing,” added Tomorrow.io’s VP of Product Cole Swain. “So if we're not adjusting ourselves to be able to adapt to AI because of barriers like that, there will always be a perpetual X around us just learning the technology.”
And it’s here that Slagen and Swain hope that their new AI marketing specialist can pave the way for the rest of the company to see past those barriers and embrace generative AI.
"This role was also about creating systems and building a culture around the adoption of AI principles for the marketing team and the whole business.”
“Most applications of AI are in the marketing domain,” said Swain. “So if the business is going to take AI seriously and apply it to the endless ways it can be useful across all of our different buckets of work, marketing is the place where it can be the most polished. It’s possible to show the business that this is a real thing. So this role was also about creating systems and building a culture around the adoption of AI principles for the marketing team and the whole business.”
The two leaders are excited for their new AI specialist to have an outsized output in both their individual marketing contributions and in laying the groundwork for the entire company to benefit from the technology. And with these two goals in mind, it’s no wonder why they put out the call for an AI content specialist so soon.
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