Amid this year’s AI boom, image and text generators have received the majority of the attention. That’s mainly because they produce something that we long thought to be the domain of human imagination: art and writing. They are also some of the most accessible and easy-to-use AI tools available. If you’re on a tight budget and handling a lot of your marketing on your own, or if you want to save time on mundane writing tasks like emails, these tools can increase productivity and save you a lot of time, money, and effort. Here are some tips for making work easier and growing your business with the help of AI and a few affordable apps to get started with.
What follows mainly pertains to the practicalities of AI rather than ethical or legal considerations. For that, see “Webinar and Ebook on the Legal and Ethical Uses of AI in Business Available to VDB Community,” also in this month’s newsletter.
AI-generated images can look incredibly impressive at first glance, especially the more whimsical, intricate creations, but upon closer inspection, you will begin to see inconsistencies and things that just don’t make sense: extra limbs in images of groups of people, extra fingers and fingers that don’t work the way fingers are supposed to, clothing and accessories that wouldn’t sit right on a human body, and fabric that doesn’t crease and flow in quite the right way.
If you keep it simple and work at refining your prompts, you can create usable images. But to get the most out of AI image generation, work in conjunction with an artist or designer to tweak the images to smooth out those inconsistencies—or have an artist create original artwork based on the AI output. AI is a great way to quickly generate concepts for an artist to work from. Handing an artist an AI-generated concept would make their work a lot easier and faster, with less back-and-forth revision. It would also give both of you a clearer picture of what you want.
AI writing tools are also not without their issues. No matter how much work you put into wringing a specific style out of a text generator, they rarely get the voice quite right. And the more specialized or specific the knowledge you are asking it to generate, the more prone it is to getting it wrong. On top of that, if your prompt includes incorrect information, the text generator’s input will repeat and even fancifully expand on those falsehoods. This is because its output is based on an aggregate of all of the data it was trained on. Large language models don’t actually “know” anything; they use statistics to “guess” the next word in a string of words with remarkable accuracy. But that’s not to say these tools aren’t useful. As with image generators, you just have to be very specific about what you want and work at refining your prompts.
AI can be great for checking your spelling and grammar and helping you organize your writing. If you’re a retailer in need of content for social media or your website’s blog, the best practice is always to combine the knowledge and experience of the jeweler with the craft and nuance of a writer, but for articles on well-established topics that don’t require the most up-to-date information or a refined brand voice (i.e. “How to clean your pearls”), or for documents that are not customer-facing such as emails and reports, AI writing tools can be a lifesaver for those who are not writing specialists or who dread such tasks.
One of the best uses of AI writing tools is brainstorming. The hardest part of writing is just coming up with ideas. Often, you have to come up with 10 bad, boring, bland, or overdone ideas for a blog post or marketing email before you come up with something good. In seconds, AI can generate dozens of topics that can spark your creativity.
AI writing tools are more than just chatbots and text generators. If you’re interested in checking out what AI image and text tools can do for you, here are some affordable AI programs to experiment with. Some of these have some pretty interesting features that you’ll probably find an immediate use for.
As you employ these tools, think of them like self-driving cars. If you decide to take a nap in the back seat and let the car drive itself, it’s likely you’ll wake up to the sound of horns blaring and glass breaking. Self-driving cars aren’t entirely autonomous; they still need a human supervisor. These tools are here to assist you, not the other way around. They won’t replace deep subject matter expertise, your own unique experiences that bring your business to life in the eyes of consumers, or the ability to craft a pithy turn of phrase that will land just right with a particular audience, but they can make the more tedious parts of work a lot easier. Just remember to keep one hand on the wheel.