Is ChatGPT a Threat to Freelance Writers?

By now, you’ve probably heard of ChatGPT.  ChatGPT is an eerily prescient artificial intelligence program that writes natural-language responses based on prompts typed in by a human user. Rumblings were heard in the marketing world about ChatGPT as far back as November, but few marketers took it seriously until it burst on the scene through demonstrations in December. By January, it was on the agenda for the world leader’s forum in Davos, Switzerland, and now the conversation around ChatGPT has escalated to a fevered pitch. 

Here are our thoughts on ChatGPT and its future in marketing.

Will ChatGPT Replace Human Writers?

Not any time soon. 

I admit it; I tested it. I gave it the same prompts as a client gave me to write articles for their newsletter, and while ChatGPT did write serviceable, grammatically correct text, the text itself was lackluster. It lacked personality. In fact, it read like a cobbled-together version of the top search engine results for that particular topic - and that’s because it did indeed pull phrases from top results, revise them a bit, and present it as fresh copy.

ChatGPT Cannot Reflect Brand Tone and Voice

The biggest limitation of ChatGPT today for marketing is its lack of brand tone and voice.

A fellow CMO and I sat down together on a zoom and tested ChatGPT. We tried to have it write sales copy for his company’s flagship software product. ChatGPT produced descriptions of the software, but it could not inject the quirky, specific language used by his target audience. He markets the software to a specific type of engineer, and the AI program did not have the wherewithal to change language, tone, and voice to reflect the language and vocabulary preferences of the target audience.

The other drawback was the complete lack of brand voice in the final document. Brand voice refers to the specific language used in marketing communications that enhances a company’s overall branding. What you’re reading here, on the Seven Oaks Consulting blog, reflects our tone and voice: authentic, expert, and warm. ChatGPT writes grammatically correct copy, but it lacks the nuances of expression of human-written content, and hence cannot encapsulate the brand tone and voice of any business (yet).

What Can Marketers Do with ChatGPT?

We’ve successfully used ChatGPT to write quick definitions of simple terms for glossaries and to write “prompts” for longer articles and blog posts.

For example, I asked it the question, “What is content marketing?” and this is its response: 

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and sharing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 


The result is grammatically correct – and 97% plagiarized from The Content Marketing Institute.

This is how ChatGPT's response scored in Grammarly's plagiarism checker.

We can certainly use AI for starting information, but trusting it to write original, unique, and correct copy is foolhardy. 

It’s a smart machine. It can produce results from scouring the web, and it can display the results according to its algorithm, programmed with the rules of correct English grammar, but it cannot “think” through what the audience wishes to know, nor can it create engaging, original text like a good copywriter can create.

What Is the Future of ChatGPT for Marketing?

Microsoft hopes to disrupt the search market by rolling out ChatGPT as an alternative to Google Search. A subscription-based model is the most likely revenue source, but will users be willing to pay for ad-free ChatGPT results to avoid the ubiquitous phalanx of ads in Google search? 

For marketers, I believe ChatGPT has a place within your content marketing team.

  • Use ChatGPT as I did, above, to find the best definition. Run the definition through your favorite plagiarism-detection software (we used Grammarly) to find the source, and then cite the source of hyperlink to it. It’s faster than reading through multiple web pages.
  • Create prompts by using a question generator such as “Answer the Public” and then use these in ChatGPT to build out a starter prompt for your content writing team. Such prompts are useful to help writers conceptualize a topic. They can then add their own unique spin or research to the topic to build the appropriate content piece.

Despite the hoopla and jitters among many writers we know, ChatGPT is nowhere near ready to take over our work. There’s still work aplenty for skilled writers, copywriters, and editors. Only we can infuse words with brand voice, tone and style; only we can creatively spin a tale that engages and inspires readers to take action. Machines may, someday, be able to do this, but that day has not yet arrived. 

The Cost of Poor Business Writing

Poor business writing is an often overlooked problem. Most business leaders will agree that effective communication is a key driver of success. But budget constraints can be a stumbling block in improving communications within the organization. 

A study by Grammarly revealed that poor communication costs U.S. companies an estimated $1.2 trillion in annual losses, or about $12,506 per employee each year. Workers spend more than 20 hours a week on business writing, so the ability to get their point across clearly and succinctly has become an essential skill.

What Is Effective Business Writing?

Good business writing follows correct sentence structure, grammar rules, and punctuation. A haphazardly written piece riddled with errors lacks professionalism and risks sending the wrong message.  

Isn’t it infuriating to wade through rambling business emails? How about long winding reports that don’t connect the dots? Meandering sentences are a surefire way to lose your audience. Keep your messaging focused on one main idea instead of several competing ones.

A good rule of thumb is to write the way you speak. Use active voice to make your written communication more precise and direct. The passive voice sounds stiff and makes sentences wordier. Make you written materials easy to read. Aim for a readability score that meets the average reader's needs.

Do away with filler words. For example, instead of ‘due to the fact that,’ say ‘because.’ Make every word count. Ditch unnecessary jargon unless you are writing a technical document. Big fancy words impress no one. Consider the purpose of your content and what you want your audience to gain from it. It will determine the appropriate style and tone.

Poor Business Writing Hurts Your Business

Here are a few examples of how substandard writing can impact your organization:

  • Low productivity and disengaged teams 
  • Poor customer retention and tarnished reputation 
  • Marketing campaigns that don’t convert to sales 

Low Productivity and Disengaged Teams 

As more companies shift to remote and hybrid work environments, teams rely more on collaborative software tools. Writing with clarity and brevity is more important than ever. The Holmes Report shows that companies with effective communication enjoy as much as 47% higher returns, more engaged employees, and lower attrition rates. 

Workers are overwhelmed by the volume of information they digest daily. Leaders who can’t express themselves effectively won’t get desired outcomes. It results in confusion, wasted resources, and productivity loss.

Writing is a core skill not just for higher-ups but is essential for most white-collar employees. If business writing skills are lacking, team members will struggle to decode information. It can cause delays, increased costs, and lost opportunities.  

Take the case of FedEx. The company wanted to assess how well employees understood their ground operations manuals. After hiring a consultant, they discovered that readability was low. On average, it took five minutes to find the correct information, and errors were spotted 50% of the time. Revamping their collaterals increased productivity and resulted in a savings of $400,000 in the first year. 

Poor Customer Retention and Tarnished Reputation 

High customer retention rates are a boon for businesses and are crucial for sustained revenue. Acquiring a new client costs more than keeping an existing one. According to Forbes, the probability of selling to new clients is only between 5% to 20% compared to 60% to 70% for current customers. 

Loyalty rides on excellent after-sales support. Customer service agents who lack business writing training will negatively affect your brand. Problems arise when technical personnel hired for their knowledge take on customer-facing roles. They might have the expertise, but without business writing skills, they will struggle to communicate effectively, leading to a poor customer experience. 

Marketing Campaigns that Don’t Convert to Sales  

It only takes a few seconds for visitors to scan your website or collaterals and immediately form an impression about your brand. A typo or grammatical error can instantly kill your credibility.

Place your audience front and center, and the rest will follow. Aim for clarity and truth when building a company website, creating blogs, or sending out newsletters. False claims and misinformation can erode trust and even lead to lawsuits.

It’s tempting to hire content farms or depend on article spinners as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The new Google updates can quickly recognize auto-generated or unhelpful content. Your website will be penalized, and your page ranking will suffer. 

Develop a Culture of Clarity in Writing Communication

It is not always easy to measure the negative impact of poor business writing. But imagine the time saved from wading through fuzzy and confusing text or spending fewer marketing dollars on campaigns that deliver better ROI. 

It’s time to cut through the noise and champion a culture of clarity. Invest in training and tools that can improve business writing. The productivity gains will be well worth it. Vague, incomplete, and stuffy communication is frustrating and will cost your business big time.

Seven Oaks Consulting is a unique content marketing agency that can help. We have a team of talented writers that produce quality SEO articles. The more content you have, the more internal links you can build! Visit our website to discover how our services can bring your business to the next level.