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Agency not afraid to ask AI some questions

Marty Fisher’s openness to new technology has helped his business maintain a competitive edge

5-minute read

Marty Fisher from the Show and Tell Agency

Marty Fisher, Co-CEO, The Show and Tell Agency 

Early in his career, Marty Fisher learned to pay attention to emerging technology. “When I started working in the 1990s, the Internet was still in its infancy. No one knew where it was headed, but everyone was talking about it—there was a buzz.”

As companies started to see the value of putting their information online, Fisher built his first website. Clients came knocking and he soon had enough demand to launch a digital agency, Sherpa Marketing. Over the years, Fisher grew the business by keeping an eye on technology’s role in marketing and evolving with it.

“I always listen for that same buzz and encourage my team to experiment,” he says. “When mobile devices appeared, we jumped into developing apps. When social media took off, we expanded our marketing approach. And now it’s AI.”

He adds that looking ahead and adopting innovations have given his business a competitive edge. “We’re often among the first to acquire new digital expertise, which has opened doors to new clients and opportunities.”

It was this expertise that led to Sherpa’s merger with McKim Communications Group (MCG) in 2021. MCG’s president, Peter George, wanted to increase the company’s digital marketing capabilities. Fisher felt that Sherpa could equally benefit from MCG’s strategic and branding strengths as Canada’s first marketing agency.

They rebranded as The Show and Tell Agency in 2023, with Fisher and George as co-CEOs. The Winnipeg-based company now has 55 employees, a second office in Ontario, and a wider customer base for its digital marketing, advertising, communications and public relations services.

AI tools have allowed us to do some things more efficiently and cost-effectively. Having more time to focus on the important stuff helps us deliver better projects, which benefits our clients and business.

What AI means to the agency’s efficiency and competitiveness

After ChatGPT was launched in 2022, Fisher and the digital team started experimenting with ways the tool might help deliver services. They have since discovered several ways it can contribute to projects:

  • Brainstorming ideas and starting documents
    Fisher says that generative AI is a good starting point when writers need to draft a text and feel stuck. “With a good prompt, the tool can generate a decent first draft that you then edit and refine.”

    AI is also good for brainstorming ideas. Fisher says it can act as a kickstart for product names, tag lines, ad copy and editorial content so writers can get to the meat of the work quicker.
  • Creating images
    Fisher’s team also uses AI to create new images from scratch. “We prompt the tool with a precise description. For example, ‘A photorealistic young woman wearing flannel and leaning on a pickup truck with a wheat field in the background.’” The AI generates a new image that the agency’s graphic designers can then modify and present as a mock-up during a pitch. Once approved, the agency can use the generated image to provide direction to a professional photographer for copyrightable original photographs.
  • Optimizing social media content
    AI tools can help achieve the “stickiness” desired in social media content. For example, one AI platform will suggest edits to increase a video’s likelihood of going viral. There are also AI tools that provide multiple ad variations to help advertisers test different messaging.
  • Writing programming code
    The agency’s software developers use AI to generate code snippets. “Instead of writing all the code from scratch, they take existing bits of code and plug them in for specific purposes,” Fisher says. This has helped them with their website and app development.

Fisher says AI has contributed to the agency’s success in the current economy. “Traditional agencies are seen as slow and expensive, which is not ideal for businesses trying to cut costs. AI tools have allowed us to do some things more efficiently and cost-effectively. Having more time to focus on the important stuff helps us deliver better projects, which benefits our clients and business.”

We always tell our clients when we’re presenting something we created with the help of AI. The response has been positive, especially since they see the cost savings.

Marty Fisher from the Show and Tell agency

Focusing on the business instead of running it

Fisher has used AI tools to help him with administrative tasks. “One of the first things we did was ask it to draft a policy for our team outlining the dos and don’ts of using AI,” he says. “Privacy was a primary concern, so we wanted to ensure everyone was using it responsibly.”

Impressed, Fisher saw other opportunities. The agency needed an employee manual for its expanding team. “We had a daunting list of policies to create, but ChatGPT generated excellent first drafts that we adjusted according to our needs.” Since then, he has used it to help draft various HR documents, such as job descriptions and procedures.

The agency also uses an AI tool to take meeting minutes and facilitate follow-ups. “Afterwards, it generates a list of required actions and even drafts emails to inform the team. Anyone who has spent time compiling meeting follow-ups knows what a timesaver this can be.”

Marty Fisher’s list of important things to note about AI

Despite all its efficiency gains and cost savings, AI must be used responsibly. Fisher offers the following tips based on his experience as an active user.

  • Keep privacy top-of-mind Many
    AI tools, such as ChatGPT, are open-source. “Be careful what information you share because you could be putting proprietary data online,” Fisher says. He advises business owners to invest in the professional version of tools to ensure privacy.
  • Do not misrepresent your work
    Fisher recommends disclosing when you’ve used an AI tool. “We always tell our clients when we’re presenting something we created with the help of AI,” he says. “The response has been positive, especially since they see the cost savings.”
  • Know your subject matter
    AI tools will sometimes use unreliable Internet information to generate content. “I wouldn’t use some of these tools without being a subject-matter expert. AI is helpful, but it doesn’t replace human expertise.”
  • Encourage, don’t force
    “Some employees are very comfortable using the tools they’ve always used,” Fisher says. “We let everyone know they are welcome to try the tools, but it’s voluntary. Then we invite those who do try them to share their experience at a lunch-and-learn.”
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