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I’ve been writing about marketing tools for over a decade, and some of my earliest published articles were about the new breed of social media monitoring tools. Looking at those pieces today, two insights struck me:
Instead of creating a list of hundreds of AI marketing tools that may (or may not) be around in a few months, I hope to arm you with the foundational knowledge to select AI tools strategically well into the future. I’ll start with what hasn’t changed and provide an overview of what I consider a strategic approach to AI tool selection. 
Once the basics are out of the way, I’ll provide my thoughts on how these new AI tools are total disrupters and explain the large language model (LLM) and app ecosystem. Finally, I’ll conclude with a guide to the most popular and powerful AI models available today, along with my short list of AI marketing tools worth paying for.
I recommend answering the following questions before investing in any AI tools: 
Thoughtfully answering these questions will set you and your team up for success when selecting the best approach to your AI toolset. For a more in-depth approach to building an AI strategy, check out my article, “Decoding generative AI: How to build a basic genAI strategy for your marketing organization.”
Back in the good old days, dozens of social media listening tools sprung up in hopes of helping marketers tackle the challenge of social media marketing. The market was relatively stable for years, and one of the tools I wrote about in 2013 is still around today.
However, many of the best third-party tools were eventually acquired by companies like Adobe and Salesforce, which were eager to build a “one and done” martech stack for their clients. The sad reality was that most of those new tools didn’t survive. 
Today, instead of dozens of third-party AI tools or apps, there are thousands, with more cropping up daily. I predict many of these won’t be around long, but there is one thing most have in common: the underlying LLM that powers their capabilities. 
For this reason, I advise marketers to interface directly with these powerful models and cut out the middleman. I repeatedly get much better results when I go directly to ChatGPT (one of the most popular and powerful LLMs available) with a thoughtful prompt instead of paying for a third-party tool. 
The one exception would be proprietary AI tools that output visuals and text specifically for marketing purposes. These third-party tools comprise the core of my AI tool shortlist. While they are immensely helpful, their lifespan is likely limited as their capabilities will eventually be integrated (or acquired) into tools we already use. 
If I had to choose only one AI tool, it would be OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It houses one of the best conversational AI models, one of the best image generators (DALL-E 3) and a ground-breaking video generation tool called SORA. A close second would be Microsoft’s Copilot which is built using OpenAI’s technology. 
However, the AI landscape is shifting rapidly, and other LLMs are hot on the heels of OpenAI and ChatGPT. Below, I outline the major LLMs on the market, their primary uses and the pricing information available. 
Once you establish a direct relationship with your preferred LLM, it may be time to consider which specialty apps might be worth the investment. This depends on the task you want the AI machine to complete. (See the “Strategic approach” section above.) But I do have a few questions to answer when considering any third-party AI tool:
After months of evaluating many of the third-party AI tools available and spending countless dollars on monthly subscriptions, here’s the list of tools that I’m still paying for:
While not on my list, I want to mention a few tools I would use if my current role required them. 
Eventually, all our standard marketing tools will house AI capabilities. I firmly believe all businesses need to leverage AI for their purposes and to enhance their offerings to customers and employees. If they stand on the sidelines too long, they will eventually become completely irrelevant. 
The same can be said for us merry marketers, we’re only as good as our tools. Trying to work without the help of AI is like trying to build a house without power tools. You might get there, but it’ll take you a lot longer and the result will be questionable. 
While we rely on our tools, it’s up to us to use them wisely. AI is simply a knowledge machine, and there’s an enormous difference between knowledge and wisdom. As humans, we bring the wisdom.
This is the 7th article in a series about how generative AI is changing marketing.
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