AI + Emotional Intelligence with Nick Usborne (Part 2)

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Wow! So many people loved Part 1 of my conversation about AI with Nick Usborne! I got comments like:

"This is pretty mind blowing in the best possible way. Although I’m not a copywriter, I’m seriously thinking about taking Nick’s Futureproof Copywriting course just to better understand how to use AI to create emotionally-rich and compelling copy. Writing AI prompts is an art form in and of itself!" (BTW: get 10% off with promo code "BENUN64")

I totally agree -- communicating with AI is like learning a brand new language (and I love learning languages, so this is going to be fun!)

Nick Usborne, an early adopter and renowned copywriter, has been using Artificial Intelligence for years. That's exactly why I invited him to join me on the Marketing Mentor Podcast to share his idea, which I think is kinda brilliant.

If you haven't already, listen to (or read the transcript of) Episode #488 where we talked about how to use AI to make your content marketing painless. 

Then, listen to Part 2 here (and below) where we focused on how (or whether) to use AI for marketing, especially targeted outreach (one of the tools in the Simplest Marketing Plan for 2024) and when to rely on EI instead to build relationships with actual human beings – you know…your clients and prospects.

It’s a fascinating conversation, especially if you’re not quite on the cutting edge of technology. 

Be sure to check out Nick's excellent course, Futureproof Copywriting, to teach you how to increase your value by leveraging both artificial intelligence AND emotional intelligence. (Get 10% off with promo code "BENUN64")

For a baby step, Nick suggested developing your voice so that you can train AI to use your voice so you won’t sound like samesies – all the other creative professionals out there.

That will be the only way to stand out in a future replete with AI – at least that’s what Nick thinks today, at the end of 2023. Time will tell – of course. 

And if you like what you hear, we’d love it if you write a review, subscribe here and sign up for Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor.

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Read the complete transcript of #489 with Nick Usborne

ilise benun

Hi, there. This is ilise benun, your Marketing Mentor. And this is the podcast for you if, and only if, you are ready to leave the feast or famine syndrome behind, and I mean for good.

In today's episode, I continued the conversation about artificial intelligence, AI, and emotional intelligence, EI, with Nick Usborne. We had to talk fast and publish soon before AI improves again and makes our conversation obsolete, so I'm glad you're listening now, and I hope the ideas are still helpful and relevant.

We focused on how or whether to use AI for marketing, especially targeted outreach—one of the tools in the Simplest Marketing Plan. And when to rely on EI—again, emotional intelligence—instead, to build relationships with actual human beings: your clients and prospects. It's a fascinating conversation, especially if you're not on the cutting edge of technology. So listen and learn. All right. Nick, welcome back to the podcast.

Nick Usborne

Thank you for inviting me back.

ilise benun

You're welcome. And it was really just the other day that we had Part One of this conversation, although we did do two episodes way back when, that neither of us remember, but I will link to them. And everything has changed since then.

And one of the things we were talking about in our Part One conversation is AI, artificial intelligence, and EI, emotional intelligence. So if you want to know about how those two things connect, listen to Part One.

We're going to pick up where we left off because what I had basically asked you was: how can we use AI to do our marketing?

We're going through each of the Simplest Marketing Plan tools and we didn't totally cover at all, actually, content marketing. But we made a dent in content marketing. And today I wanted to focus on outreach. But before we do that, please introduce yourself.

Nick Usborne

Okay. Right. My name is Nick Usborne. I've been a copywriter forever. Well, not forever, since 1979, which feels like forever. I've been a writer, I've been a coach, and I'm a coach. I've been running ... most of those years have been working as a freelancer. I prefer freelancing, so I've been running a freelance business.

I am, kind of the kind of person who ... I get bored always doing the same thing. So when something new and exciting rears its head, like the web or AI, I tend to leap in with both feet with my eyes closed, which has worked out reasonably well for me.

But yeah, I'm definitely someone to lean into new technology, new things happening. So that's why I find myself right deep down the rabbit hole of AI right now.

ilise benun

Yeah, it's awesome because I'm definitely not one of those people. I'm not an early adopter. I drag my feet and wait until I absolutely must focus on it, and then I dip my toes in kind of slowly. So when we ran into each other at the AWAI bootcamp recently, I thought: All right, here's an opportunity to pick your brain, basically, and help pass along some of what you are doing and what you've learned so far to my listeners—who are all basically creative professionals, ideally self-employed or eventually self-employed.

And as you know, that's a different mindset, right, to be self-employed versus to have that employee mindset.

Nick Usborne


ilise benun

So as I said, we talked a little bit about content marketing, but today I wanted to talk about outreach— which is basically reaching out to prospects—because what I teach in the Simplest Marketing Plan and program is that this is actually what works. Reaching out ... handpicking your ideal clients and reaching out to them is very effective. But it's effective when you do your homework and tailor and customize your messages to them—which tends to be time intensive and labor intensive, and people get a little lazy about it.

So my first question is: how can, or can AI help with this part of the process? And then we can talk about other parts of the process.

Nick Usborne

It's a tricky one. I mean, I agree with you that it's absolutely the best way. I tell people, "Hey, it's just the math. If you reach out in a smart way to a lot of your core prospects, sooner or later someone is going to say, “Yes,” and then someone else will say, “Yes.” 

Most people say, “No” because the timing is not right. So AI, it's a tricky partner in this space. A while ago I was following a discussion on Upwork—so one of these places where freelancers, they sign themselves up and get to pitch for client business.

And there was a lot of upset clients because they were saying that they were putting jobs up on the board and they were inviting people to submit proposals. And the proposals were coming in and the proposals were almost all identical because the freelancers had used tool like ChatGPT to look at the briefing and they'd said, "Hey, based on this briefing, please write a proposal." And then they sent it off to the company and the company was looking at it saying, "This is insane. I'm not going to choose any of these people because this just feels lazy. It just doesn't feel like there's a real person here at all.”

So you've got to be very mindful of that, of whatever you're doing with AI, that it doesn't make you look the same.

So I've written about this. I call it kind of “the sameness trap” and it can happen with companies using AI for marketing too much because same tool, same language ... all of a sudden companies start looking the same.

And it can definitely be a problem with freelancers. And as freelancers, I think are, in a sense, our greatest, and in some ways only strength, is being ourselves. All right. Which brings us over a little bit to emotional intelligence. So it's messy at the moment trying to use AI for that purpose.

So what I say to people, and the rule I follow, I mean, I use AI extensively, but I never ever use it with client-facing communications. If I'm writing an email, if I'm writing a proposal, if I'm running anything, I sit down and I do it, because it needs to be me. I need to differentiate myself. If I use AI, I'll sound the same as other people and as soon as I sound the same, I'm dead in the water. Right? That said, you can certainly use AI.

So what I might do, let's say I'm in the general aviation business, a specialty. I'm writing in that area. What I might do is I might go to LinkedIn and I might copy and paste 50 profiles from these companies or leaders within these companies. So I'll copy and paste 50 of them and I'll put them in a document and I'll upload them into ... I'll basically paste them into GPT-4 and say, "Hey, this is, from a training point of view, as a record, this is what these companies talk about in their profiles.” And that is almost like a training set.

Then what I do, the company that I'm interested in writing a proposal to, I'll separately get hold of their profile. I'll say, "Okay, ChatGPT, you've got the 50. Now look at this one and tell me if there's any differentiating factors here. Is this profile different or interesting or unusual in any way based on what you've seen in the other 50?"

So I'd use it like that because that can be golden. If I find something about a company or about an individual in the company that’s a little bit different, a little bit unusual, it gives me an opportunity to start a conversation in an unexpected way.

ilise benun

But why wouldn't I just look at someone's profile and find that myself?

Nick Usborne

Maybe you can. But ChatGPT is insanely good at two things:

One is pattern recognition. It notices similarities and differences.

But the other thing, like the 50 that I cut and paste into this document that I uploaded, it's almost impossible for us to hold 50 profiles in our heads at the same time and find commonalities and find differences. We can't do it. Not 50 in our brains. But GPT, that is just easy peasy. All right?

So I'm always looking to use GPT for things that I can't do. If I want to write a short email, I can do that. I don't need ChatGPT to do that. I might ask it out of interest, but I'm still going to do it myself because I'm good or better than ChatGPT at writing emails.

But stuff that I can't do, like finding common elements or themes within a very large document of 50 different profiles, I can't do that. But ChatGPT, it's simple.

ilise benun

I was going to say, so part of the outreach homework process and the way that I advise people to come up with the thing they're going to point to that says, "Here's our connection, basically," ... it could be something different from the other 50. But it could also be something that I know about myself that I see on this person's profile and we have a connection; we have something in common. So is that a variation on this theme that we're talking about?

Nick Usborne

It can be. It can be. I can also put up my profile and say, "Hey, do you see any common elements?"

But again, it's so tricky because now we're getting into ...

You must get the same. I'll get messages from people on LinkedIn saying to me, who want to connect with me, "Oh, I see you like such-and-such a sports team."

And it's like, "Nice try. But I've already had 50 of those this morning."

Finding this common thing, it's very tricky. It's very tricky.

So yes, it's listening, first. I want to see if I can listen to the prospect through their profile. Through other materials I get ... I won't just get to their LinkedIn profile. I'll try and find other information about that company. I'll sign up for their newsletters. I'll find them on the web. I'll do whatever I can to listen to the company. I've lost track, lost track of what I was going to say. I'm sorry.

ilise benun

That's all right. That happens. Maybe ask the AI what you were about to say.

Nick Usborne

I know. I'm getting there because I can. I'm on my phone now. I can just talk to it, which I do because I'm a terrible typist anyway, so I just talk to it half the time on my phone now.

But I am conflicted in terms of ... So this is the AI plus EI. So artificial intelligence is a huge productivity boost and it does some things way better than my brain is capable of. But I know that the way into ... I don't think AI is going to land me a new gig or a dream client. I think the emotional intelligence does. So, I'm going to do the research with AI. I can get to ChatGPT and say, "Hey, go to their website. Go here, go there. Learn about this company for me."

And then I can say, "Well, give me a way in; give me some suggestions." And most of them probably are not great, and a lot of them won't be terribly original. So I'll then say, "Okay. Now give me some non-obvious suggestions." Which is usually more-

ilise benun

That's your magic word, “non-obvious.

Nick Usborne
to get the more interesting stuff. But still, if I'm reaching out to you, I can't do this like, it's not like Lego bricks. It's not like a jigsaw puzzle. I can do the research bit with AI, and it can speed up that area, or it can give me some insights I might not have otherwise seen.

But when I’m actually going to reach out to you, I need to, in my mind and in my heart, have a sense of who you are. I need to listen. I have to switch from AI into EI, into emotional intelligence.

I have to be aware of my emotions and what I'm feeling as I write to you. Using that research, I've got to get a sense of who you are and what you love and the fact that you've got a puppy. And I've got a puppy too. I may not use that because it can be a little weird. But I think, in terms of getting clients, I don't think I've got clients because of awards. I've got all these copywriting awards. I don't think-

ilise benun

That's not why they hire you, you're saying?

Nick Usborne

No. I don't think that's why they hire me. I think they hire me because they think: I like this guy. Yes, he's got the background. Yes, I've seen the resume. Yes, he's been around the block. Okay, I get it. He can write. But am I going to hire him?

And a lot of that, I think, is down to ... and contradict me if you think I'm wrong, but I think a lot of that is down to: Do I like this person?

ilise benun

No, I totally agree with you, like, who is this person?

But I was actually saying this to someone the other day, that the right approach, the right mindset for marketing is not: I hope they like me, I hope they want me, I hope they're willing to pay me.

It's: Who is this person? What are they going to be like to work with? Can we collaborate together and get something done that's a win-win for both parties?

Nick Usborne

Right. Hey, it's really interesting because you say, “Are they going to like me?” Which sounds to me like a defensive posture. 

ilise benun

And that's how most people approach it.

Nick Usborne

There's anxiety there. I try to switch that around. And again, so we're now getting back into the emotional intelligence thing ... is rather than ask the question, ”Is ilise going to like me?” I want to ask a different question, which is, "How can I make ilise feel better?”

I want to make it about you. I don't want to make it about me: Is she going to like me—she doesn't like me. I don't want to be in that, because that's a defensive posture. I don't want that.

I want to find some emotional touchpoint where I can make ilise feel really good about our working relationship, the work that we do together about ... I want her, when she gets an email from me, to think: Cool, I wonder what Nick's come up with this time?

I don't want: Ah, no. Is this going to be one of Nick's feeling unhappy emails, seeking reassurance emails?

Which I've been guilty of. I haven't heard from a client for ages. You write this email and when you look back you think, eh, it's a little bit whiny. I don't want to do the whiny thing. I always want to be ...

And like I say, this is the heart and soul of emotional intelligence, is to be aware of your own emotions, to control your own emotions. Don't write that begging email just because you're feeling insecure. Don't do that. Be aware; be mindful of your emotions.

But also lean into the emotions of the person you're writing to. Always make it about them. And there's no easy way. I've seen so many, kind of, templates for this.

ilise benun

Right. There's no template for this.

Nick Usborne

I don't think there is. This is a human relationship thing. It's a personal relationship thing. And you really have to treat it that way, like you are meeting someone for the first time in a coffee shop, in a bar, in the park or whatever, and you feel your way into it. You feel your way forward.

ilise benun

I agree with that. However, if someone is not a good writer like you are, you said, "Well, I can do the writing of these messages, so I'm not going to ask AI to do it for me." But a lot of people feel like they're not necessarily good writers, or even if they're a good copywriter, they don't necessarily have the objectivity or the finesse to write about themselves and write these marketing messages.

And so in the Simplest Marketing Plan, I actually have templates that I advise people to adapt for themselves. And lately one of my clients told me that he was putting that into the ChatGPT to make it better.

And then I was offended. I'm not easily offended. But then I was offended, because it's already very good. This is what works. And AI is not going to make it better. All right, I got a little chip on my shoulder. I know that about this.

But I really feel like that's where you have to bring the EI. That's where you have to bring your heart and soul and do the homework. And imagine, you said, "Feel what the other person is feeling." And I can channel the listener saying, "Well, how am I supposed to know what the other person feels?"

Well, you use your imagination and you are empathetic, right? This is, again, where EI comes in.

Nick Usborne

You don't go on a first date and ask the other person to marry you at the end of the first date. This is step one. And step one in the communication is an opportunity to listen. You're going to write an email. They're going to write back. You're going to listen very carefully. You're going to read between the lines.

Is this a complete brush-off or is it like half brush-off? And you're going to go back and forth. So it's like any relationship that you build.

But to your point about people who are not comfortable writing or don't think they're great writers, ChatGPT is a fantastic writing tool.

I'll often do a draft, or I'm writing a blog post right now. And in fact, the topic was suggested to me by ChatGPT when I asked for it to look at in-between, like for the non-obvious, and it came up with a few ideas.

I said, "Okay, number three, give me an outline," which it did. And I said, "Fill in a bit of a description under the heading," and it did. What I'm doing is I'm using the idea. I've changed some of the headings. I'm completely going to write it, but it gave me that starting point.

The other thing is that writing, say emails, ChatGPT is really, really good at it because it's got access to a gazillion marketing emails out there as part of its training set. It's read more emails than you and I have in our entire careers. And it accesses them and it knows the good ones and the bad ones. So you can actually get ChatGPT to write a really, really good email. It's got a beginning, a middle and an end, a call to action.

And then you can say, "Hey." You start revising it saying, "Look, I'd like you to start off more, where it's feeling a little bit too casual, too familiar, let's make this a little bit more professional. Dial back the kind of conversational chattiness a little bit.” And it will.

And you say, "Okay. I want to start with something that this person had in their profile. So can we open with a mention of ..." And it will. So you can just go back and forth.

And in terms of grammar, it's way better than me. In terms of spelling, it's way better than me. And people say, "Oh yes, but it doesn't have ... I don’t know ... It can't do what a human can do."

And that's true, but it can do a lot more than you think it can do.

ilise benun

But you also said before, Nick, not to use it for client-facing messaging. So I hear a contradiction there.

Nick Usborne

Well, I'm using it as my buddy, it’s my assistant. So I'm saying, "Look, give me a first draft. Here's the brief. Here's what I want to achieve. Give me a first draft."

And then I might go back and forth with ChatGPT until it gets to be a stronger draft. And then I use that as  my ... I never send just that. I always go back to it myself and say, "Okay. It started with this, I don't know, story or metaphor or analogy. I can think of a better one. I can think of one that's personal. I can think of one that I think will resonate better with the reader here."

So I'll go in and I'll switch stuff around and I'll make sure that it has my voice. So particularly the first paragraph and the closing section—I absolutely want that to be as I write, as Nick Usborne writes. Now of course, we're now getting to a point with ChatGPT where I can train it the way I write.

ilise benun

Yeah, explain that. You were telling me about that earlier. Explain that.

Nick Usborne

So I've been building a ... It's called a “custom GPT assistant.” This just came out last week, this ability where I can take GPT and I can create a custom version of it, trained to work the way I want it.

So I basically uploaded thousands of words, hundreds of pages of my own writing and transcripts on the topic of copywriting and AI and EI. Tons of stuff just on copywriting, conversational copywriting, and I've uploaded it, and this becomes this primary source for this version of ChatGPT.

It's a custom version that is for me, and that I then share with my students, share with other writers. It's out there publicly. You can go and use it. So it's a ChatGPT that is focused on copywriting.

So this gives it a level of ... and I can also say as part of ... I've written lots of instructions on how I want it to perform. And one of those instructions is: figure out the voice of the writer.

It's all my writing. I can say, “Figure out the voice of the writer and I want you in your output to write in that same voice.” So that's one of my instructions. I got other instructions, like if someone explicitly asks to train-

ilise benun

Wait. Let me just stop you there because again, I'm just channeling my listeners as I listen to you and they're thinking: Yeah. Well, what if I don't have pages and pages of writing? And even if I do, what if I don't even know what my voice is? How is AI going to find my voice?"

Nick Usborne

Don't worry, if you have some writing, AI knows what you mean. You may not know what you mean, but ChatGPT does. “Find my voice”—it definitely understands that prompt, that request. If you haven't done much writing, then get cracking.

ilise benun

All right. Let me ask you another question because last week you also posted on LinkedIn an avatar of yourself. And I'm wondering if, for example, I am constantly challenging my clients to use audio and video in their outreach. And when I saw that, I thought: Is there a way to use this avatar to create a video that would be part of someone's outreach message?

What do you think about that? And talk about what the avatar thing is.

Nick Usborne

So what the avatar is that ... and it's insane ...

ilise benun

It's insane. Let's just establish that.

Nick Usborne

So basically all I have to do to train a video avatar is I've got a camera up behind my computer here. I get that going and basically I talk to the lens for two minutes. So it's picking up my voice, my movement to my mouth, movement to my head, my eye movement, things like that. And that's all it takes is just two minutes of me talking to the camera, to the lens.

And then it goes through this thing, and now it has a version of me. So now I can just copy and paste some text into it and I will start reading the text ... I won't, but my avatar, the digital video version ...

ilise benun

So you don't even have to record the audio, you just give it some text.

Nick Usborne

If I give it some text, it comes back with ... suddenly I'm speaking in a weird Mid-American accent.

There's two things I can do. I can either record audio on my phone, which I've done, which I did for that demo that you saw. And I just upload the audio and then it converts it into video with this ...

So I've never spoken the words you see on that video. It's my avatar speaking; I just did the audio. But if I go to a company called 11 Labs, I can now get a clone of my voice.

All right. So once that's done, I can copy and paste an article or a post I've written. I can clone it in my voice, upload it to my avatar, and now my avatar is going to speak in my voice and it's going to basically read whatever I give it.

It could be an article, it could be a post, could be a speech, whatever it is. For freelancers, I shared it because I just find it astonishing that I can clone someone with two minutes of video. So we've been talking to each other for two minutes, more than two minutes, now. So if I was recording this, I could clone you, which is kind of creepy.

ilise benun

That is creepy.

Nick Usborne

So I'm not sure whether this is a fantastic tool for freelancers. I think, give it time, give it two or three years, and you'll be able to have 10 of your avatars talking to 10 different prospects at the same time and none of them will be saying exactly the same thing.

That conversation will ... so that is weird. And that's one of the ... people are going to use this for sales. They're going to have their best sales person selling to 25 different companies at the same time.

So there's weird applications for us. It's a curiosity. It's just fascinating and scary to me that we can already do this.

I don't think, again, I would apply that to ... I think, if it's about getting clients, if it's about marketing, if it's about prospecting, I would be using AI principally as a productivity tool to improve my efficiency in terms of discovery, in terms of sorting out the good prospects from the bad prospects.

Hey, and you can do things like you can go to ... like, let's say something worked out really well for you. And you can go to a profile on LinkedIn of this company where things went really well and you could have a look at the series of emails that you wrote, and you landed the gig, and it's a fantastic gig. You can give that to ChatGPT and say, "Hey, given how well this worked, can you find me similarly good matches among ..."

ChatGPT can't go into the database of LinkedIn itself. You have to copy and paste 50 prospect things. But you can find the success story and then say to ChatGPT, “Can you find some other prospects here that you think will respond as well as this one did?”

And like I say, ChatGPT is insanely good at pattern recognition. So look for patterns. What is it? What was unique about that prospect and the way you interacted with them that led to a positive outcome? Let's see if we can find similar pairings where it might work elsewhere.

So that's the kind of thing I'd experiment with. But in terms of how I finally write ... and I might say, "Hey, based on that, draft me a series of three emails: like an introduction, follow up, follow up."

And it'll do that. But again, like I say, with customer facing, with prospect-, client-facing, I never leave it there. I've got to insert myself because, ultimately, it's our only differentiator is ourself.

Whatever I promise as a freelancer, someone else is promising the same thing. But no one else can be me, for better or for worse. I got weaknesses, I got strengths. Some people love me, some people dislike me. It's the same for everyone.

But that is our only differentiator. And as AI grows—and it will, and it's growing insanely, and companies are going to lean into this because of the productivity benefits—the more the world becomes enthralled with and overwhelmed with AI, the more important it will be for us, as creatives and as freelancers, to double down on being ourselves.

ilise benun

I love that.

Nick Usborne

And also on leaning into the emotional intelligence, because AI is not good at that. It's good at so many things and it can understand the basics. It understands love and stuff like that. Although, it's never loved. All right. It understands loss, but it's never experienced a loss. So this is its weak point, which is why we want to lean in.

So like I said, I never ... I can now, I can actually interact with GPT at a level where I can ask it to write emails and messages. I can give it access now to my Google accounts and I can say, "Hey, write to ilise and say thanks for having me on as a guest." And it can do it.

I'm never going to do that. I don't want to do that, because all of a sudden, I sound like other people.

Clients are going through the same thing—is they're loving the productivity benefits of AI, but they're suddenly realizing that their marketing material now sounds exactly the same as everyone else's because they're all being written by AI. Same tool, same prompts, and all of a sudden there's this sameness.

What I'm really doing is I'm doubling down on the promises that I am not the same. I will not be the same. I promise, I'll never be.

And that's a whole different thing is like, clients ... if you go to places like Upwork,, lots of clients are now saying, "AI, not accepted. If you use AI, do not submit a proposal."

Now, some clients say, "It's fine, just declare it." Other people say, "Don't do it."

It's horribly messy because people are submitting work to clients, clients are running it through. You can run through tools and systems to identify whether a piece of writing has been written by AI or a human.

So clients are doing this now, but it's very unreliable and you get all these false positives. So clients are going back to a writer or a designer or whatever saying, "Hey, you said you wouldn't use AI, but you have." And the writer is like, "Seriously, I did not. I did not, I promise." But they said, "We run it through this system and it says ..." and they're very unreliable. So the whole thing is messy, messy, messy. So just lean into being whatever makes you different.

ilise benun


Nick Usborne

Just lean into yourself. And always, always, even if you're using AI as a tool to draft proposals or draft estimates or draft emails, never leave it there. Always rewrite it, so it's in your voice.

ilise benun

All right. Well, thank you, Nick. I have a feeling one of the things we might talk about later is maybe having you join me for a workshop for my SMP—Simplest Marketing Plan members to actually try to implement some of these things into our marketing. So we'll talk offline about that.

Nick Usborne

All right. Hey, can I just ... talking led me to something else.

ilise benun

Go ahead.

Nick Usborne

And you were saying people ... I've been writing for a very long time, so I have developed a bit of a voice. But if you haven't been out there writing blog posts and social media for decades, you perhaps are not even sure what your voice might be. And that'd be an interesting workshop thing, is work on that, because it's going to be the most important thing, I think, for you going forward, is that, hey, there are some people .... 

I always come back to the same example, because Ann Handley's voice is so unmistakable, so Ann Handley of Marketing, not Marketing Experience, of MarketingProfs.

ilise benun


Nick Usborne

And her newsletter, and whenever she speaks, you can almost recognize her writing from a hundred meters because she has a voice that is almost unmistakable.

And that's what we all aspire to. I think it is going to become an incredibly important asset to us because of this sameness trap.

That's what AI is leading us into, is sameness, sameness, sameness. So people are going to love the financial benefits of that sameness, but they'll suddenly realize that: Well, hang on, this is not cool. We sound the same as everyone else.

ilise benun

Okay. And one of the things I asked you last time, which we actually never got to, so we can get to it this time, which is: What is the baby step that people can take to begin moving in the direction that we're talking about? And I hear you basically saying, "Start building your voice so that you can use it with AI.”

Nick Usborne

Right. And also, you want a voice that is very sensitive to EI. You want to be a very emotionally-intelligent writer because, again, that differentiates you.

One of the things a lot of people struggle with is they were taught writing at high school, at university, at business school—and that is a very particular formulaic, academic writing, business writing. This is not a good way to connect with people emotionally. It's very formulative. It's like I said, "Formulaic."

So, if you have a background in professional structured writing like academic writing or business writing, you want to step back from that, I think, and find your personal voice.

And to do that, always imagine. And it's a cliche, but I've said it a thousand times is, “Always imagine you're sitting across the kitchen table from one other person and speak to that person as a living, breathing, feeling, emotional human being. And be a good conversationalist, which means listen. Listen more than you speak. Always be listening, listening, listening. Because that's how you become a more emotionally-intelligent person and you become a more emotionally-intelligent writer is you've always got to see someone as a human being first, even if they are vice president. The vice president for a few hours a day, but for 24 hours a day, they're a person with emotions. All right?

ilise benun

And though that is the topic, actually, of our first two podcasts, was conversational writing, so I will link to those episodes so people can understand more about what you mean when you talk about conversational writing.

Nick Usborne

It's everyday language. Just be yourself. It's, like, show your character.

ilise benun

All right, Nick, we're going to stop here. We're going to put the bookmark here. We might have another conversation, but there's definitely more to talk about. We might do something monthly. Who knows? But in the meantime-

Nick Usborne

It almost needs it.

ilise benun


Nick Usborne

Because the AI thing is moving so fast. But just in case ... I know I keep repeating myself, but use AI for productivity, for research, for preparation, for pattern recognition, all the things we've talked about. But when you're talking, writing, or face to face with a client, always do your voice, yourself.

Learn about emotional intelligence, and what that is and what it means and stuff, because this is your secret weapon is to be yourself and to be an emotionally-mature version of yourself when interacting with prospects.

ilise benun

And the book you have recommended is Daniel Goleman's original one, right, “Emotional Intelligence”?

Nick Usborne


ilise benun

And I know you have a course also on future copywriting, “Futureproof Copywriting.” So tell the people where they can find out more about you and your course.

Nick Usborne

Okay. If you go to Nick Usborne,, actually, you'll see right there on the homepage, on the right-hand side, there's a big thing you can click on all about this course, which is basically AI plus EI. It's about how to combine the two. So basically, it speaks to what we've been talking about. I also have a blog there, so you can see ... go back through the last 10 blog posts that are all on the same topic, so you can see me exploring it from different angles. So yeah, explore the blog posts, find out about the course, and then maybe we'll speak again before too long.

ilise benun

Yes. Thank you, Nick.

Nick Usborne

Thank you.

ilise benun

As I trust you noticed, we did get to the baby step in Part Two of our conversation and Nick suggested developing your voice so that you can train AI to use your voice so that you won't sound like ‘samesies’—all those other creative professionals out there. That will be the only way to stand out in a future replete with AI. At least that's what Nick thinks at the end of 2023. Time will tell, of course.

So if you want to build a thriving business on your own terms, the first step is always to sign up for my Quick Tips at Once you're on the site, you'll find lots more resources, including my Simplest Marketing Plan. So enjoy and I'll see you next time.

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