Should copywriters be worried about ChatGPT?

Right now, the copywriting world is obsessed with ChatGPT.

It’s a chatbot that is pretty good at creating content.

For example, I just asked it, “What’s the most important technique in copywriting?”

It replied:

“One of the most important techniques in copywriting is to focus on the benefits of your product or service, rather than just listing its features. Your readers want to know what’s in it for them, so make sure to highlight the benefits and address their potential pain points or needs. Additionally, it’s important to write in a clear, concise, and compelling manner that grabs the reader’s attention and convinces them to take action. A strong call-to-action can also be effective in motivating readers to make a purchase or take some other desired action.”

That’s not bad.

it’s a bit bland, but you could tart it up, and use it for content.

And ChatGPT is definitely a good tool if you want basic blog posts or product descriptions. Or, at least, a first draft.

But what else can it do?

Will it be able to write sales copy — or sales emails — anytime soon?

Here’s my answer…

The best way to understand AI

For me, the best way to understand AI is through the story of AlphaZero.

AlphaZero is a super-strong chess algorithm that won a match against the strongest chess program in the world.

(In chess, computers are far, far stronger than the top human players.)

How did AlphaZero become so strong?

By playing against itself tens of thousands of times and learning from every game.

But, to do this, one thing has to be true…

But, for this to work, one thing has to be true: the rules of the game have to stay the same.

In those tens of thousands of chess games, the rules were the same, the pieces were the same, the starting position was the same…

So whatever the algorithm learned continued to be true throughout the learning process… and in the games it then played against other computer programs.

That’s why chess is something AI does very well. 

It’s the same reason why AI is good at spotting tumours on X-ray slides. Tumours look like tumours – whether the X-ray was taken today, last week, last month or last year.

Going back to my example…

Earlier, I showed you what ChatGPT said when I asked it, “What’s the most important technique in copywriting?”

The answer it gave is evergreen.

Benefits, not features. Pain points. Clear writing.

These things don’t change.

And that’s what the chatbot is good at: relaying information that doesn’t change.

And that’s fine if you want an evergreen blog post. 

But, it’s why I believe, when it comes to writing sales copy, AI is going to struggle.

Copywriting isn’t about averages

I once heard Rory Sutherland say this about advertising:

“We are not in a science of repetition, or a science of averages. We’re in a science of exceptions.” 

And you can’t train AI on exceptions.

Not only that, but…

Markets Evolve

Whenever you’re in a competitive market, that market evolves.

Claims that were fresh and unique 2 years ago are now old and stale. 

They no longer have the same pulling power.

So, if you were to train AI on past promotions, no matter how successful those promotions were, you’d be training it to replicate ideas that are now obsolete.

So what makes a blockbuster promotion?

Here are the headlines from a few blockbuster promotions…

“The plague of black debt”

“Lies, lies, lies”

“Shameless Two-Faced S.O.B.s!”

“Read this or die”

What do they all have in common?

Well, first, none of them fit any of the typical headline formulas.

Second, they were all built on a big, disruptive idea.

For example, “Read this or die” — written by Jim Rutz — has the deck copy:

“Today you have a 95 percent chance of eventually dying from a disease or condition for which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet.”

That’s a big idea. And it was an idea that was fresh and new in the alternative health market.

It stood out BECAUSE it was different.

So, if you’re a copywriter and your copy is disruptive, breathe easy, ChatGPT isn’t going to cost you your job. 

Steve Gibson

P.S. If you are a copywriter, I’d recommend you play around with ChatGPT as it’s a pretty useful research tool.