AI For Sales Meets AI For Marketing With Valeri Potchekailov
Content creation is so easy to do now that people just start pumping out content without any thought. Yes, it's content but if it’s marketed poorly and rushed, it's poor quality content. It's always going to be quality over quantity. That is the motto of this episode’s star of the show. Meet Valeri Potchekailov, the the co-founder of Story Chief, an AI tool that helps centralize your business to release quality content. Chad Burmeister teams up with Valeri to make us realize that right now, AI is mainly acting as a support to the marketing process. Humans still got to do the majority of the branding. It is when they work together, they can really accomplish top-notch content.
Listen to the podcast here:
AI For Sales Meets AI For Marketing With Valeri Potchekailov
I have aspecial guest, Valeri fromBrussels, Belgium. He is the CEO and Founder of StoryChief.io. He was at abranding agency for ten years. We are going to dive into a little bit about AIand a lot about the importance of personal branding. Valeri, welcome to theshow.
Thanks for having me. I’m very happy to behere.
I like thepersonal branding that you are doing around NASA. You help companies take theirbrands to the moon and beyond?
That is what we do in StoryChief. That is our goal. That is our mission.
It’s the mission. If you get it off by 1°, youmiss the moon. It's important to be accurate with the stories. To get startedbefore we understand what you are working on is to think back to when you were younger,you were maybe six years old. You have a passion when you were younger. Thefilters of the world aren't yet put on you. Your parents don't influence it.Where did you go to school? What was the thing that got you up in the morningthat was like, “I love what?”
I'm in Brussels in Belgium. We are in GhentCity near the university where a lot of big startup scenes are happening. I wasborn in Russia. My parents moved to Belgium when I was about thirteen yearsold. I grew up on the streets outside. There were no phones. There were nocomputers. There were some Nintendo that we were playing. It was super unique.If someone has a PC to play games on, we would go to their place and hang out.I spent a lot of time outside, making stuff out of woods, camping a lot, makingfires. I grew up in nature. That is what it was all about in the morning, wewent out, in the evening late, we came back home dirty. Unfortunately, my kidscan't live the same way. They are already stuck to their iPads. I did what Ilove to do. I was always a bit creative. I was always creating stuff. I wasalways curious. This is super important.
I also tried to make my kids very curiousabout how things work like breaking down stuff and then assembling them.Understanding how complex things work. For me, it was always an interest. I wasalways sketching. I was always drawing. I was making drawings of things thatinterest me. My uncle was a super creative drawing and sketching guy. The wayhe learned things was always visual. I took that over. My parents brought me toart school. From a young age, I already liked visiting art schools. I lovemath. I love logic but I also love creativity. When I got my first computer, Istarted building things there and gaming a lot, strategy games and building mygame maps and stuff. I was always curious about creating things.
Design is not always about making something pretty. It's also about making something complex yeteasy to understand.
My son went tocollege at a place called the School of Mines which is an engineering school.He is mathematically friendly, analytical but curious and entrepreneurial. Hesees what I do for a living. He's much more grounded and Math. I was good atMath too but he is off the charts good at it. It’s that combo of being curiousand entrepreneurial. He made $4,000 in his summer job. He put half of it intoTesla, a third into silver and a fourth into something else. It's up to$12,000. From $4,000 to $12,000 in no time at all. How does that tie if youthink about what you are doing for your customers and when you wake up in themorning? I have always found that if you are doing what you love, you areliving a frictionless life. A lot of people are grinding the gears every day.They are like, “I don't like this job and they call it a job.” It's like, “Icall this a passion what I do.” How do you tie that thin blue line from whatyou did as a kid to what you are doing now?
What I was intrigued about all the time is howdo I make something complex very easy to understand or to work. This is how Iapproach all the problems that I have. It can be a personal problem. It can bework-related problems. I tried to distill and try to understand things fromdifferent perspectives. Try to make it easy to understand, easy to explain tome and then solve these problems bit by bit like breaking up the big probleminto all different small chunks and solving them one by one to reach the maingoal. I apply this methodology to everything I do.
Give us anexample of maybe a customer that you work with or something that you areengaged in.
When I was studying in Belgium, first, Istudied Economics at the university for three years. It was too theoretical. Ifound it a bit boring. I always wanted to be in the creative space and advertising.One time I was sitting there learning a thick book about accountancy. It wasboring. It was like, “What am I doing with my life? I don't want to be in thefinancial space watching a computer. I want to create things.” I startedgoogling stuff. I saw an ad that people were looking for a creative director atsome agency. I was like, “This is what I want to do.” Suddenly, it struck me. Iwas always drawing. I continued to do art school on the weekends. This hasstruck me. I was like, “This is my passion. This is what I want to do.” Iclosed the book.
I applied for that job position. They kickedme out. They said, “Go away.” I said, “I need to study for this.” I went to myparents and said, “Sorry, I will not study Economics anymore. I want to switchto Digital Branding.” I switched schools and then I found my passion. This iswhat I want to do. I graduated from that. When I was studying, we had to createan app for government organizations. The government came to the school andsaid, “You have a lot of creative students. We need to create a CRM system forvery simple things. We don't want to spend money.” I was put on the project. Igot a map with all the instructions on how to use the tool they already built.They built some tooling access or Excel-like semi-automated. It was complex tounderstand. It was thick. The instructions were all in Comic Sans written andin this font for designers among us. I was like, “How can I make it simple?” Idistilled this book into two pages. I started to analyze everything and look athow it works.
I saw that people needed to click twenty timesand that could be replaced with one strategic positioning of a button somewhereelse. This is how I found my pattern, “This is cool. I love to do that.” Designfor me was not only making something pretty but also making something complexeasy to understand. This is what I thought I wanted to build my career around.During school times, I started my first branding agency for my first companytogether with one of my old schoolmates who was studying Engineering. We landedthe project for the university. By the time we graduated, we had a huge officewith fifteen people. A lot of cool projects for big brands. I plan to go ahead.
What I loveabout your story is that you started in Russia and played in the streets withkids. I assume you didn't have a lot as a kid, the hand-me-downs. I find that alot of families who are that close to digging out of where they came fromreminding them at their core that, “Life is different. It's still okay. I cando it.” It makes you appreciate it when you do have an office with fifteenpeople. It makes you want to work hard so that your family doesn't have toexperience that. The further you go the cycle becomes harder for the next levelof your family. My dad was a doctor and he had a tough time growing up. I hadit pretty easy growing up, big-screen television, lived in a nice gatedcommunity but I still appreciate it because he was there. How do you keep thatlevel of passion alive in your kids’ kids and their kids? That is a hard thingto work on.
I have two small kids. I try to spend as muchtime as possible with them together. Get them outside, we go to the mountains,we go to the sea a lot, we go to nature outside. It's important in getting themmore social, getting them to understand everything, getting them to solvenatural puzzles instead of on the TV screen or a computer. I want to try tokeep them as much as possible outside of the screens. It doesn't work. It worksbut it could be better. Giving a lot of attention and love is the key. It's easy to give an iPad to kids and say, “Go, I’m busy.” This is something we try to avoid.
Think about the balance between your family and being personal, in business marketing andpersonal branding as AI starts to enter the workforce. It's slowly making itsway up. It started with, “Alexa, send me some chocolates.” That is a verypowerful AI. You call in to make an appointment, you are talking to a robot andyou don't know it. Someone is calling you to raise money for a local charity,you are interacting with the robot on the phone and you don't know it. Over thenext few years, society has completely shifted into heavy use of AI. What areyou seeing in artificial intelligence out there in your business or you? How doyou balance the need for people to be human? Is it because AI replaces the needfor humans? Does AI augment what humans do? What are you seeing out there?
There are a lot of things that are happeningthat are very interesting. AI is at the stage when it's complimentary and canmake life easier for a lot of people. It definitely cannot replace things thatwe do particularly in our niche, space but it can make our life way easier.What we do with StoryChief is we have had this agency for a few years. After afew years, we decided that the agency business is not scalable at all becauseit scales with your revenue.
It's super risky when you start scaling theagency. We started our SaaS business in the content marketing space which iscalled StoryChief. What we do and the reason why we started StoryChief is thatwe saw a lot of tasks that people were doing in marketing teams were tediousand repetitive. Why would you spend your valuable time on all the repetitivetasks? We thought and we automated a lot of things within our tool, meaning wecan save around five hours per campaign that people are doing and we convert thesefive hours into five minutes and it's a huge time saver.
StoryChief streamlines your content marketingprocess, it connects all your channels, your website, social media channels,newsletters, your employees and so on. It lets you collaborate on content inone central place, distribute content everywhere and measure everything by allthe different API connections and conversations that come together internallyas it centralizes stuff. It creates structures, processes and makesdistribution easy. It saves tons of time but also creates value by telling you,“How do I improve my content so it gets seen more?” It's not real AI. It's justdata.
Automation and analyzing your data and givingyou tips on how to improve that is not AI. It's more of data analysis but itsaves and automates a lot of things. You as a human, need to create something,you need to create your content, the strategy and stuff. What is interestingabout AI is that it will help you create. We automate tasks but AI starts tohelp create. This is something interesting and new because you can go a stepfurther.
Time is important. Whywould you spend your valuable time doing repetitive tasks?
We are in the content marketing space. We areusers, marketing teams, marketing managers, copywriters, social media managers.They create. We launched an article about this. We tested out 5 to 10 differentAI NLP tools. A tool that markets itself like, “Click on a button and we willcreate content for you that will score.” We started testing it. There is a blogwhere you can find the article. It’s well-written and in-depth content. Thefinal thought is that it helps. It helps with the suggestion of topics. Ithelps to create high-level, not in-depth but a bit fantasy content.
Once thatGoogle algorithm finds that, it will serve up appropriately and get into thealgorithm. A human, it would be very hard to say, “You got to have these twentywords. This sentence needs to be here. The headline needs to be less thantwenty characters.” Whatever all those algorithms are, it changes constantly.You can program the AI to be on top of some of that stuff.
This is what we already do within our tool.What I'm talking about is saying, this is what we also build behind the scenesat StoryChief, “I'm a company. I have five people. I just started. I have agreat density. It's already selling but I want to increase my presence. I don'thave any writers. I don't know what's right about it. I don't know how to doit. I don't know where to be present.” It's going to suggest your topics. Imagineyou have a small business and you say, “I need content. I don't know how to doit. I don't know where to post. I don't know anything.” It will analyze whatyou do. You click on a button and it will suggest topics that you can pick.
It will outline the drafts more or less of thecontent, the channels, how it will look like. Maybe you need to put a video inthere. Maybe you need to create a podcast on it. It will generate your draft butstill you will need to put your manual work into the bits to make it human.This is where it comes to a certain dangerous area. There is much content outthere already. People are blasting content since HubSpot came out or whatever.People are blasting content and the majority of the content is bad. It'scontent to get traffic with poor quality. Our mission here is to make surepeople create quality content, increase their thought leadership and make surethey get trust. How do you do that? AI has a long way to go to get to thatlevel as far as we think.
I did apodcast with a guy named Timmy. Timmy worked at Disney for 10 or 12 years,maybe more. He was Peter Pan at Disney parks. He's a kid’s book author. He'shelping entrepreneurs write kids’ books. Most entrepreneurs in a room of 100people, you go, “Who wants to write a kid’s book?” There may be 1 or 2 but ifyou say, “What if you could articulate your passion via a kid's book to helpmake sure that your kids and their kids are educated in the passion that youhave for life, religion, whatever it is?” His main concept is quality andthought leadership. Those are like the two. The way he defines quality is howhe told the story to his little brother. He was seventeen and his brother wasfour. It caused him to write the storybook in a way that the four-year-oldwould understand.
Even Einsteinsaid, “If you want to tell a story, you've got to be able to articulate it to asix-year-old.” When you're talking about, “Could you teach AI to explain astory in a way a six-year-old could understand?” The answer, in the long run,is going to be yes. In the short run, to your point humans can process fourmillion transactions per second. You can teach an AI. Maybe it won't get to fourmillion anytime soon but it will be interesting to see where all that goes overthe years. There is a danger zone. To me, that danger zone is the ethical sideof all of this conversation.
That's what I was going to say like, “Willpeople read content that is written by a machine? How legit would that be?Would you trust that company?” A lot of questions. Imagine all the people thatare creating good quality content. They are against this stuff because theythink this will lose the human touch. There will be more content, more badcontent. Maybe good but there is a long way to go there. How do you trust a companythat has much content and is all machine-generated? The reason why we arerecording this session is to be authentic. We talk about our families. We talkabout our life. If this content would be produced by machines, would you watchit?
It’s a very goodpoint. There is a site that I discovered that produces faces of people.
I know this guy personally.
For $2.99 youcan buy it and then it might be sold to multiple people for $8.99. You buy itand they expire that face. Talking about those gives me the heebie-jeebies.Expiring face?
Google search Tom Cruise deep fake. It’s a guyfrom Belgium who did that. He looks a bit like him. The guy is also fromBrussels.
The comedian’sgot a bigger smile. I have watched it. One of the technologies that we aredoing with the partner, we didn’t invent this but it's called stitching. If yousee Vidyard videos and Loom, you send out a video and the rep uses it and putsit in their email. It's a 3 to 5 times better replay rate. As a technologistsimilar to you, I'm always looking for what shortcuts one can take. Theshortcut we figured out with this partner is you can video merge differentparts of the video. If you record, “Hi Jim. Hi Valeri. Hi Sally.” You stitchthat together with the rest of the content. You can put in place 3 or 4different things as part of that talk track. We work with companies like ABCand XYZ in this industry. You record 95% of the videos the same for everybody.Those 2 or 3 pieces are variable.
Data analysis is not real AI.
We found it on ProductHunt. We found a cool tool called Synthesia. What it does is generate a few models ofhumans. It looks like a human. You type in the text and the person says it.That is a video. This is very smart, super cool. Sometimes a bit creepy. It'svery well done and super funny with a lot of joke videos internally. Type it inthe browser and the videos are generated. You should talk with these guys forthe podcast.
What is useful about this thing is that theyhave an API meaning that you can connect. For example, we have our help deskfor button tools. We connect through therapy AI to spreadsheets where we haveall the copy and or some note thing and we hit one button, suddenly we have 200videos generated all over the help desk. Imagine someone in our app is going toa settings page and they want to connect to their WordPress website toStoryChief. There are instructions there but suddenly a video pops up. A personis saying, “This is how you do this. Welcome.” The cool thing is these videosare personalized. You can create variables in your spreadsheet saying, “HiValeri.” The person will say, “Hi Valeri, welcome. Thanks for visiting ourroom.”
They may notsay Valeri properly but I bet you could put a pointer in there.
How cool is that? It’s a personalized welcome.
My passionproject is called Livinga Better Story. We had a retreat in Utah. The whole conceptis we have this mindset person who's done 1.3 million graduates from a mindsetcourse. He can come in and defragment your hard drive. Take what yourexperiences were as a kid like what we did in the early part of the call and thenhelp you visualize where you headed in the future then live that new story thatyou tell yourself. You can program yourself to do whatever the heck you want,to go to NASA, go to that moon if you want it to, whatever you want to do.
What I loveabout this, my thing that came out is that I want to build an app. I interviewedthis guy on a Living a Better Story podcast, which is my second podcast. He wasa New York Police Officer Detective that was shot in the chest many years agoand nearly died. When I asked, “What's the one thing that you could do that wasamazing? What would you do?” He said, “I would bring my four children who arevery successful back to church.”
That is a bigdebate between a lot of people because the old school way of an hour a week onSundays is different. The way we consume content. I was flipping that on itshead saying, “We'll bring church or God to people on a one-to-one basis in themedium that they want to consume it in.” When I look at a platform likeSynthesia, you could do those storytime readouts biblically in an interestingway delivered via an app in 2 to 5-minute chunks with pictures probablysomewhere in the back of that. Those are the things that we can do with AI.
You can even create your 3D model of yourselfand let it talk.
You can dothat too. I knew we would have an interesting dialogue. I had no idea it wouldbe this interesting. I now feel compelled to travel to Belgium someday and comevisit.
Ping me when you are here.
You arewelcome anytime in Colorado as well. I love to ski if you are a skier.
I’m a snowboarder but okay.
Valeri, thank you very much for being on the show. Another episode,check out Synthesia and StoryChief.io. If you go to the blog, there are seriously incredible articles postedthere. Valeri thinks in a different universe to most of us as he is representedby the NASA jury. Thank you. We will catch you on the next episode.
About Valeri Potchekailov
* 2009: Started up a company "RWS" while still studying cross-media design at university college in Ghent
* 2009-2012: While being a student-entrepreneur worked on major projects for different companies (Artexis, Mitsubishi, UGent, Fracarita, Financial Media, BIVV, Unilin, ...) and several marketing agencies. Combining online & offline media.
* 2012: Graduated with maximum score for Graphic Design
* 2013: Combined forces with another creatives to form "RWS&Zonen" - a creative house based at Doknoord in Ghent. All-round branding/marketing agency.
* 2016: Co-founded Sugar - Branding & Digital Agency. Independent agency where magic happens. www.sugar.gent and started working on Story Chief project.
* 2017: Launched Story Chief, tech startup. www.storychief.io A brand's hub for article collaboration, publishing, content planning and performance measurement.
* end 2017: Sugar agency becomes Story Chief NV.