Sign Your Name

Terence Trent D'Arby and White Bread

Welcome to The Beat by Rockstar CMO. I’m Ian Truscott, a CMO, trusted advisor, strategy consultant and Chief Bottle Washer at Rockstar CMO. In this newsletter, I’d like to share a mix of what’s caught my eye from our community, our podcast and our street knowledge blog.


I suspect you don’t remember the 1987 track “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D'Arby (who is now Sananda Maitreya), my pick for this week’s subject line. I saw him in concert in my youth, and while it’s not exactly an upbeat track that will get your marketing mojo working, it did come to mind when I was listening to Ann Handley telling a story on Jay Acunzo’s new podcast, How Stories Happen.

Like many of you (I suspect), I subscribe to Ann Handley’s wonderful newsletter Total Annarchy. The story she tells Jay on his podcast comes from a recent issue, and is about being gifted a book (coincidentally by Harry Morton, who’s been a guest here on the podcast). Ann Handley is, of course, the author of “Everybody Writes”, and in the wonderful way Ann tells these stories, she connects receiving this gift with the craft of writing.

The story is best told by her, so I’ll try my best not to spoil it, but to summarise, the gift turned out to be incredibly personal, and she felt very connected to the author through it.

The story then explores how we connect our writing and work to our audience, the way this gifted book created a thread for her directly to an author that had inspired her as a child.

And, in our AI-generated synthesised content age, that human-to-human connection is all we have to differentiate.

As Ann says in her newsletter:

In an age of writing robots — an age where machines are going to only get better and faster at creating content at scale—the question I've been obsessed with lately is this: How do we sign our work?

Coincidentally, I was chatting with my chum Robert Rose the other day before recording his segment for the Rockstar CMO podcast, and we got chatting about generative AI. He mentioned a new tool someone in his network had shared with him, an example of a blogger using it, and he shared a link to a marketing blog that was the result.

I’m willing to admit that maybe because we knew it was synthesised content, our AI spidey senses were on alert, but as we discussed, it reeked of the machine. The advice in the articles was generic and lacked any personality.

Did this make it bad content?

It kinda didn’t.

The content and topics covered were perfectly fine.

The marketing advice (the blog's subject) was all a bit first base, but some folks need that. It was just white bread, fine.

This isn’t another commentary on generative AI because people write ordinary, generic content all of the time, especially in B2B marketing.

And if we hadn’t known this blog was AI-generated, we may even have breezed past it, not thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is AI generated”, but “Oh god, this author has created more of this crap”.

Because, as Ann would say, it was unsigned.

Regardless of who or what wrote it, it had no personality.

So, we need to signal that our work is ours.

And, not just the stuff we do as individuals, but signalling that our B2B marketing is from us and not our competitor. Or the machine.

So sign your name.

Enjoy your week!



Ian Truscott | Chief Bottle Washer Rockstar CMO

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