Ep. 13: The Future of Marketing is AI + Humans with Peter Metzinger

Peter Metzinger Knows Marketing

PETER METZINGER is the Owner & Managing Director of Business Campaigning, a strategic consultancy specializing in «impossible missions» in branding, marketing, and communications. He’s also the co-founder of evAI Intelligence, helping companies develop tailor-made Artificial Intelligence solutions. Peter’s trademarked business campaigning® model was used at the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Open Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In today’s episode, Peter shares with us his unusual take on the future of marketing: partnering with the customers as the experts in identifying what they want + using AI and technology to customize and enhance their experiences.

A Fun Fact About Peter Metzinger

I couldn’t resist sharing: Peter has always been a pioneer in using digital tools. In 1987 – this is seven years before launch of the World Wide Web —  police were tapping the phone lines of an anti-nuclear network Peter had founded. So what did Peter do? He set up a computer network across many different cities and he wrote an encryption software to be able to continue coordinating campaign activities without the police being able to find out what they were up to.

In This Episode

In this episode of Level Up Your Leadership with Mr. Mission Impossible himself, Peter and I talk about:

  • How AI and technology will change marketing and communications in the future
  • Why you can’t find the right solution without considering the human element
  • Why it’s important to speak with your audience (and not to your audience)
  • Is AI already using psychology to convince me to buy things I don’t need?
  • Why you, the sales or marketing expert, aren’t really the expert at all.
  • How customers will get even more used to customization… and what lines that might cross on privacy
  • How to solve impossible missions

To learn more about Peter, check out his website, connect with him on LinkedIn , or purchase a copy of his book, business campaigning (available in German only).


If you’re a marketer OR a consumer (or a human!), you’re going to want to hear about the future of marketing. Tune in to this episode of Level Up Your Leadership wherever you love to listen to podcasts.  

OR you can read the full transcript below. Enjoy!

Lisa


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Ep. 13: The Future of Marketing is AI + Humans with Peter Metzinger

00:00:00 – 00:05:14

That’s Peter Metzinger speaking, co-founder of evAI intelligence and owner and Managing Director of business campaigning. In today’s episode, Peter and I talked about some really interesting things. Peter is just this fantastic guru of marketing and how marketing is for the people, of the people, by the people. And he is an interesting twist the way he does marketing because he’s spent his entire life being a pioneer using digital tools. And he’s now in this artificial intelligence, AI bandwagon. He’s got this separate company working on artificial intelligence, and he really knows what the future of marketing is going to look like.

Instead of telling you about how great he is and all the stuff we talk about, which you can listen to yourself, I wanted to share this fun fact about Peter that didn’t come out in the interview, but is just so cool I wanted to share it with you.

So, I mentioned Peter, he’s sort of always been a pioneer in digital tools, way back in 1987. So, you have to imagine this is seven years before the launch of the worldwideweb. Police were tapping into the phone lines of an anti-nuclear network Peter had founded. So what did Peter do? He set up a computer network across many different cities and he actually wrote an encryption software to be able to continue coordinating campaign activities without the police being able to find out what they were up to.

What I love about Peter is, he says that business campaigning is a company, a strategic consultancy, they specialize in impossible missions. And I like to call Peter Mr. mission impossible himself because he seems to be able to make everything happen. So enjoy this episode learning from Peter Metzinger.

Welcome back to another episode of Level Up Your Leadership, the podcast exploring how 21st century leaders acquire the skills they need to thrive in the ever-changing digital workplace. I’m your host, Lisa Christen, and I’m here today with Peter Metzinger, co-founder of evAI intelligence and owner and managing director of business campaigning. Welcome, Peter!

Hello wherever listening.

So Peter and I are having a bit of a funny moment here. I have to admit this to all of you listening. We recorded this entire podcast… except we didn’t record it. So we are currently on take two of this podcast. And we’re going to see does this lead to the same place we went to last time or did more questions open up. Let’s see. But Peter, I do have the same first question to start with which is that you say that business campaigning is a strategic consultancy that specializes in impossible missions. What does that mean? What is an impossible mission?

Actually, that’s something that others say about us to repeat because it explains very well what we are doing. We’re finding solutions where others don’t find and it has to do with the approach we are taking. I studied physics I have a Masters in science in physics, and what I learned there was to ask critical questions, to really understand the system. So, very often when people don’t sell something, what they do is they spend more money advertising. But maybe that’s the completely wrong thing. For example, the World Economic Forum (WEF), in 2002, they gave me a call because they had an issue with their brand, with their image. People were on the streets protesting and they didn’t get the message through that their mission was to improve the state of the world. They tried with PR, they tried with advertising, and they didn’t see any change in public perception. They heard about this specialist for “impossible missions” and they called me. And then we applied the business campaigning model. That’s something that I created in 1998. It’s the mixture of processes and checklists that you fill in, in a certain order, and that guides you through the process to ask the right questions at the right time. And the outcome of the analysis and the strategic thoughts was the Open Forum, which is since 2003 platform were NGOs ^, the public, and the inner circle of the leaders of the World Economic Forum, the closed society come together and discuss have a dialogue. And that opened up the whole discussion and helped them to reclaim the image and to get the message through.

And what was so different about the way that you engaged people? What’s different about the business campaigning process?

I learned in the 1980’s already that the target audience is not somebody you send information to. They are people who help you.

00:05:15 – 00:10:07

So, if you try to sell a product, you send them information and you think, if you send them that information, that will convince them. If you see these people as people who are helping you to achieve your sales goals, you have a totally different approach because you know, if you want somebody to help you, you have to understand that person really well. You need to know how to approach that person, which language, which tonality, at what point of time, through which channel with which message, and it’s a totally different approach. It leads to us having workshops with the target group where the target group develops the strategy, the campaign strategy for themselves. We’ve used that in internal campaigns, named change management projects, and marketing campaigns or PR campaigns, branding. The idea behind it is the experts are the target audience themselves. They know how they receive information, how they process information, what triggers them to which action.

And it’s so interesting what you’re describing because you’re not saying, and you’re a consultant, you’re not saying, I’m the expert I come in and I give the information.  You’re not saying, I go to senior management, I work on a senior management strategy and we roll it out top down. What you’re saying is, we go to the people. We got to the people who are affected and we work with them because they are the people who know the answers.  That’s wild.

I love to say we’re experts in being non-experts and we are professionals but we’re non-professional. Because it you’re professional, it’s about a certain profession. So if you studied marketing or advertising, you will be professional in that area. So but, as the example that I gave, if you don’t sell something because it’s not the wrong message or not the the wrong channels, but it’s maybe the organization behind it, you might even get a lot clients out there, but the internal processes don’t allow to sell more. As a professional, you need to open, you need to find a broad variety of tools, also management tools. Once I even had somebody who called me because her sales figures were going down and she wanted an advertising campaign to turn it around. At the end of the discussions, I recommended trauma therapy. Because I knew what trauma therapy is good for. Turned out, it was a small company, 4 employees, it was a headhunter, so it’s a people business. Trust is very important. She had a car accident with whiplash trauma as a consequence and two weeks later, problems in the company started and the sales figures went down. And I thought, there could be a connection, so I recommended to her first have a look at her trauma, and once that problem is solved, then maybe run an advertising campaign, or maybe not. In the end it wasn’t necessary. She had 3 trauma therapy sessions and the figures went back up again.

Amazing! And this goes to a really important point, which is, you know, campaigning, marketing professionalism jobs in general. There’s such a human element to it. And we have to look at the whole person whether they’re we’re the one selling or whether we’re the ones receiving, there’s a very human element to it.

Authenticity, the human element, these are all things that are very important if you want to find the right solution. You need to understand who that person is and you only find that out through dialogues. That’s also difference between us and, I would say, many communication companies from the last century, I like to say it like that because they are all about sending instead of being the dialogue.

Yeah. And I love that. This is the future of communication. You’re actually very actively involved in the future of communication, because you are the co-founder of an artificial intelligence company, and you’ve really taken campaigning and marketing to that next level by including artificial intelligence. What does marketing or communications what does that look like in the future?

I would say there are two important aspects: 1. We will much better at understanding the audience we’re talking with not to. I know it’s grammatically not really correct but with includes the dialogue. Who is sending information? Exactly,  it’s two directional. I just wanna say, that you’re talking at someone, that’s one to the other. You’re talking with someone, it’s both.  

I’m talking with you now that means I can’t talk with my wife now but AI can do that. A computer has so computing power that a machine can talk to many people at the same time. So what it allow us will be to send individually-tailored, personalized messages to individuals.

00:10:07 – 00:15:02

Not only the message might be different, but maybe also the point of time because I know that one person is easier to reach at let’s say one o’clock, and the other person at two fifteen. Something we’ve been using ready two years ago when we started using AI in campaigns in social media, we got this analysis done by the neural network telling us which Twitter influencer was best to be in dialogue with at what time because it was the time when his followers were active. Of course you can also do that by yourself do that kind of analysis, but the huge amount of Twitter files out there to analyze would have gone beyond our capacity. And AI and that’s the other aspect, AI will allow us to do things we are not capable to do today because of the lack of man power, lack of man and computing power.

 I have to say, there’s a little bit about this AI stuff that scares me. And I know I do a lot of work with AI, but I also am a little bit concerned when I talked about marketing and communications and AI because I’m nervous that they’re gonna know the best of human psychology and they’re gonna know exactly how to persuade me into buying something that I do not need and have a lot of stuff in my closet that I do not need. So do you see that that’s going to be happening with AI?

That is already happening today with AI. It’s requires only five hundred to six hundred words that you publish somewhere and then your network can produce a very precise psychological profile of you, telling me exactly how to sell you what and how to influence you, what are the key words to avoid, and the key messages to deliver. That’s happening today, we’re actually using this in PR, like before I contact journalists I don’t know. I found out what kind of person it is so I know exactly how to talk to that person. And the same in sales but the other thing you mentioned that you will be convinced to buy things that don’t want to buy that’s the mission of advertising ever! It’s always been the mission. It might become more sophisticated, but it can also be used for something else. And that is to protect you from messages that you don’t want, that are irrelevant for you. If an AI understands your personality and knows what you want and what you don’t want, that AI can actually block messages for you. So it depends very much on how we use it. And knives can be used to cut bread and to kill someone. So ethics is a very important topic. At every AI conference that I’m at, ethics is a central topic. And I read just before on LinkedIn that the European Union has today, published some ethical standards something that everybody who works seriously in the AI work will work on. Because if we get it right with the ethics, AI will have a future and we’ll have a better future with AI. If we get it wrong, we will not be able to use its potential, and we’re screwed.

Or worse. I can really see some – I hear about some game over scenarios, as I also attend some of these AI conferences. But this really brings us back to the human element and why, sort of, bringing your humanity forward is so important in this age of digitalization. Can you tell us more about the business campaigning model, I mean, you don’t have to go through the whole thing, but what are the elements that are included in there?

Well, I’m a physicist, and when I worked for Greenpeace I was the last three years was campaigns director of Greenpeace Switzerland. And I had to reorganize my department. And I realized that it doesn’t matter if I want to stop a nuclear power plant’s operating license or change the culture of my department, I used the same strategies and I used the same approach. And I realized it’s all about changing people’s knowledge, attitudes, or behavior, or maybe all together.  And when physicists discover something like this, they love to develop theories, to make predictions. If I do A then the outcome is B. So I had this idea of creating a model that’s what I did in 1998. I created a model that helps to train, to educate campaigners, or change makers, whatever you want to call them. And, at the same time, helps you to plan, execute, evaluate campaigns or change processes, whatever you want to call it, in the end, it’s doing something that brings a change. And independently from the topic and the goal that is involved it describes, like a cookbook, it tells you if you use salt and these vegetables now will treat them like that. And the outcome is a dish, and it’s the right dish for the right person.

00:15:00 – 00:20:05

We love on our website, we have a mix up and vegetables, because that’s what do you call it.

Like a smoothie or something of that sort.

That’s it, like a smoothie. The right smoothie for the right person in the end.

Yeah. Exactly. So how do we get our hands on a copy of this, or how do we know because it sounds like it’s just a very easy plug and play, and something that a lot of us would be interested in – how to run change management or how to run better campaigns, business campaigns, marketing campaigns.

For the German speakers, it’s all published in my book. titled Business Campaigning, published by Springer, Heidelberg, but it’s not in this order. It explains the model but it’s not like a cookbook. I’m currently working on something like working title How to do Business Campaigning. I have all these checklists already ready so somebody could order that already but I’m working on explanations, with which somebody can work without me being there, without me explaining something. So really like a cookbook. And hopefully it will be available in few weeks. Maybe by the time you publish this podcast, I don’t know when it’s going to be available already. But you find out if you go to businesscampaigning.com, you’ll see it there.

So I’ll put a link for everyone listening. I’ll put a link in the show notes. I’ll put it in the blog posts and we’ll send you over. I’m a huge fan of online courses and what you’re describing is only people who have a lot of money to spend on this campaign could then afford to hire you as a consultant. And what you’re saying is, for the rest of us, there’s now an opportunity where we can almost bring our own Peter home with us who says okay, do this, okay, do this. Are you going in the right order? So I appreciate that. But we need to make sure that it has a picture of your smiling face on it because there’s an energy that you bring as well that might not translate in the book.

When I was working with Greenpeace, our mission was that the world wouldn’t need us anymore. And that’s still the vision and this will be like, a gift to the world, to they can don’t need us. Don’t need me anymore.

I love that. And as you speak about mission. I mean, you are a very purpose driven person. How did you find your purpose? Or how did you find a way to align a purpose with a business?

Well, that’s a long story, actually, it was my grandfather taking me for walks and explaining to me how nature had changed due to chemistry, and you know, chemical pollution and everything. That already gave me a sense of the importance of sustainability. And my very first campaign in 1982 was to protect a pond in our village, or next to our village. And then I joined Greenpeace and I worked for Greenpeace for 13 years, then with this model I started my own business in 1998 and then for a while my business was my purpose. But it was never really enough. The mission of my company since 1999 had been meaningful campaign for meaningful ideas. But like the fight, fighting to save the planet, fighting full sustainability was not at the core. And that has kind of changed. When we were on Kuai in December and January, I don’t know, Kuai has a transformational… it does something with you. And it brought me back to the question of what is really lighting me up? Where do I get my energy from? Where is my motivation and that is actually in driving sustainability in working towards a sustainable economy. And this whole, this is where I’m gonna put more energy.

And what advice would you have for listeners about how they might be able to find purpose or infuse more purpose into the work that they’re doing?

They have to ask themselves yet the question of why. Why am I here? But I know many people ask it and they don’t find an answer and then I would say find a coach.

I didn’t even pay you to say that.

I would not be that coach but I could mentor people. That I know and that I appreciate people who are specialized in that. Go to Kuai, friends of mine organize trips on Kuai, and this actually is why we were there, because they needed marketing support here in Europe. And I said, I need to know that program in that actually is all about finding your purpose. Finding your talents and removing all the blockages that are there that keep you from living your purpose. So, that would be an option.

So one way is to escape that everyday life and go into a reflection mode. And maybe you have some friends or a coach or just some other external folks to speak with and to try to find that.

Meditation can also be something.

What’s one piece of advice that you would share with listeners that you’ve learned either the hard way yourself or you’ve just noticed has worked throughout all of your years of experience in business.

00:20:06 – 00:23:15

That’s one question that has always been at the center, and that’s the why question. Because, very often, you know, you start a campaign, even if it’s only about sales or marketing, very often if I asked the question of why do you want to achieve that goal often enough, totally different solutions come up. Because the real goal behind it is not what was obvious in the beginning. And the same applies to us as human beings. We have ask that question over and over again. And the more machines and robots take over work from us, the more important it becomes to identify what makes us different from them. What makes us different as humanity in why am I here? What value can I add to society? Because jobs will change. Jobs will not be jobs anymore, but we will try to find people who add their personal value to our society. When we don’t need to work anymore, we don’t need an income anymore, and that will happen. Then what are we doing there? And we’ll do things that explore the world, we will create art, we will develop further, and there it will be great. But we have to know why and who we are.

So if I’m hearing you right, there are two things that sort of define you, which is maybe you know, this, maybe you don’t, you’re really curious. Why, why is… I’m interested. And you’re also an explorer, so you’re not just gonna stay within your bubble you’re gonna go out why? what’s that about? what’s that about? Let me hear more about that. Let me go to Kuai and figure that out. There’s a lot of curiosity and questioning and experimenting going on for you. Is that how you live your life?

I’m a physicist. I never worked as a physicist. But yeah, let’s always been a central part of my life. And I can recommend everybody. Stay curious. Really, stay curious! If you want to find out how to, to get your business to the next ten years, stay curious. And be open to new solutions be open to changes in society, and changes of value, and be curious about solutions. Never stop asking those questions.

 And your cookbook will guide us through the process of what kinds of questions to ask, how to, so it’s not just a big lost why, like a big lost, what is my purpose, but rather you’ve given us that formula. So we know exactly what questions to ask in the right order, and so we can get to a meaningful answer.

Thanks for that. Well, thank you very much Peter for your time today. It was really great having you on the podcast.

Thank you and thank you to the audience or the watchers who watch and listen.

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