The Way of the Marketer (in Chaos)

A Path through the complexities of the
AI Revolution

Flint McGlaughlin

Are you captured in the time-perception construct of “eventually”? Are you in danger of “missing” the next wave?

Timing makes Genius look foolish. The “what” tends to reveal itself before the “when.” The tech-prophets of Science have both promised and warned the world of AI, Machine Learning, and all the other imperfect terms: ANI, AGI, ASI. We tend to accept much of the “what” while deferring (vital) action against the “when.” We shelter ourselves in the leeward side of the dangerous time-warping lethargy of “EVENTUALLY.”


Yet when a promise is true, it is (in general) just true. But not this time. Enter the new Epoch, where “just true,” becomes “so true,” and so true becomes “too true” – at warp speed. The “has been,” the “is being,” and the “will be” are so compressed as to be indistinguishable, so that you cannot keep up with the pace of the pace of change.

So then, what shall we do? How shall we trade? How (even) shall we live?

The answer is expanding exponentially beyond the scope of our cognitive containers. One may flounder amidst the nearly infinite possibilities. Indeed, it is possible to drown in a sea of the Unprioritized Unknown. We need a Path.

Good news. There is a path to the Path. And it moves not through the future-gate of ultimate possibility, but in the present-gate of personal possibility. Next is now. And next is enough. And enough, in this cycle, is best understood through the lens of essentialism. This essentialism, first of all, is a discipline. It is a discipline that give us permission to say “NO.” We say “NO” so we can say “YES.”

But to what and to whom do we proffer this “yes”?

We must give this “yes” to a new dynamic, the dynamic that exists in the “sub-structure” of our familiar institutions and their patterns. This is especially true for the craft of marketing. The word itself, so misunderstood, so maligned, represents a deep elemental force, a force that shapes the human project.  

Its “powers” enable one to craft the signal sets that stimulate conclusions, and thus decisions, and thus behavior. It can be used FOR us; It can be used AGAINST us. And this twinning of danger and promise leads to five essential observations:

  1. There are no (longer) masters only “the mastering. The path to expertise must be reconceived. The core cycle of research-application-integration (learn it; try it; keep it) must be compressed into dense, tight iterations. Thus, research and training must merge into tight three-week cycles.
  2. Waiting is losing; change is the new stasis. The radical adoption of imperfect process is essential to the integration of working process. You cannot guess your way in; you must live your way in… So, if you haven’t started experimenting and adopting the new way(s), you are already behind the ever-steepening curve. To let criticism of the current state hold you back is to let yourself be trapped by a flawed human-in-time-perception-construct. Start NOW.
  3. We is the new Me. You are competing against a network and so you must compete with a network. Community enables the ultimate human advantage. We need to form strategic research-and-learn communities that work together across cycles of productive research-application-integration. Your real danger lies not with your competitors. Your real danger lies with calcification, with hesitation, and with isolation.
  4. Technology changes the “how,” but not the “why.” It changes the working context; it does not change the fundamental psychology. The essence of our marketing craft, the structured appeal to human nature has not changed in millennia and it likely will not change in another. It is ever more important to concentrate your energies on developing an effective value proposition.
  5. Research tends to be blunt instrument. We need a razor-sharp point at the tip of our experimental spear. Otherwise, we waste cycles learning the important but not the essential. How do we achieve this edge? By focusing all of our research energies on the marketing funnel. More particularly, on changing a measurable result in the real world.

Then what is our next step?

Leaders tend to imitate accepted patterns within their business culture. We mimic the external but overlook the internal values and principles that resulted in a particular contextual application. While this approach may work sometimes, it lacks the depth necessary to reimagine the new way forward. Which leads to the question, again, what shall we do? We may best begin by emphasizing what we should not do:

  1. The next step is not to launch a new product. Indeed, at this explosive rate of change, the typical product development cycles are problematic. Your value proposition will be irrelevant before your prototype is pushed out of beta.
  2. The next step is not (just) to launch a new business or even pivot another. Business cycles, in most industries, will be wildly compressed. It will be hard to stay relevant. In times of turmoil, we need to transcend the (typical) zero-sum game.
  3. The next step is certainly not to go back to college. The university system cannot even begin to overcome its (sadly broken) legacy model. Such institutions are better at the “tedious-long” than they are “imminent-now.” And while their research can generate a valuable finding, their leadership rarely knows how to leverage it.

The next step is to form a new kind of research-and-learn community, a community where each of us contributes in two ways: (1) we serve our customers and (2) we serve each other. But beware of the rhetoric; do not mistake a crowd for a community. Businesses tend to “pirate” this word to describe any group of people from which they want “get something.”

This new kind of research-and-learn community is emerging here at MECLABS, an organization founded more than twenty years ago to pioneer experimentation in the psychology of conversion.  Our Lab built the first digital conversion testing program and it launched the first industry certification program, “The Fundamentals of Online Testing”.

MECLABS worked in research partnerships with startups and with major brands like The New York Times, Verizon Wireless, and The Royal Bank of Canada to develop (now widely used) optimization heuristics,  such as the Conversion Index: C = 4m + 3v – 2(i-f) – 2a.

In the fall of 2022, we invited a group of marketers and entrepreneurs to form a (new kind of) research cohort. Our focus was to combine our discoveries in conversion psychology with breakthroughs in AI Technology. Some said we were too early. There were many skeptics.

But within weeks, ChatGPT launched and the great “AI Revolution” engulfed us all. Soon we discovered that the only way navigate the chaos was to work more closely together.  And so we began to organize…

So how is this new research-and-learn community organized?
(The Mission and the Five Values)

A community is bound together by its mission and values. This new community’s (think organism not organization) mission can be shaped with seventeen words:

To become a vital research community of conversion-focused, supra-capable Marketer-Philosophers fully committed to the Summum Bonum

The means of accomplishing the mission must be disciplined by the values that define the way to accomplish the mission. And these values need to be held in careful balance. An imbalance is sometimes called by physicians a “disease.” Such imbalance can produce terminal illness for a community.

It is often the lust for scale, the pursuit of growth at any cost, that damages a promising community. Leaders beware. Growth is not the goal; health is the goal. Healthy organisms naturally grow. Our first task is to foster the conditions for growth; our second task is to prune the obstacles to growth. And these five values are essential to these two tasks:

Consider this chart. Its purpose is to visualize the power of these values in action. And to connect these actions with your work (amidst the complexities of the AI revolution). These values produce internal rewards; they produce external rewards. And more, these external rewards can be measured.  

Core ValueEssential ActionInternal RewardExternal RewardKey Metrics
(authentic) ConnectionJoin a cohortA feeling of belongingThe growth of your business as you grow with othersRevenue Growth
(personal) GrowthCommit to the growth sprints (MEC100-300)An empowering sense of achievementThe power to win a ‘yes’ when it truly mattersConversion Rates
(genuine) ServiceRealign your energies with a Customer-First Objective A new level of meaningful workA new level of trust -based customer loyaltyAverage Customer Value
(generous) GratitudeBegin your daily practiceA deep sense of well-beingIncreases in the quantity and quality outputs from your teamCustomer Satisfaction Scores
(heart-felt) SharingInvite others to participateA powerful affirmation of your pathUnexpected opportunities to expand your impactRevenue Growth Conversion Rates Average Customer Value Customer satisfaction Scores

So how is the community organized? At depth, it is organized FOR its mission, WITH its values. Everything else, the resulting structure, is built upon this bedrock. You cannot work backwards from your product. You must work upwards from this bedrock. Conviction first. Strategy second.

Nevertheless, upon this bedrock one can scribe a pathway. This is a pathway from the outside, to the inside, and on through to the Mission. People don’t need to be coerced; they need to be invited. And they need a clear way to “live their way in” to deeper commitment.

What is the path for entering into this new kind of community?
(The Five Levels)

There is a natural progression, a set of sets, a series of micro-yes gates, that can be visualized as nested concentric circles. People move inward as they experience greater levels of trust.

  1. Uninformed – We FIND
  2. Interested – We WATCH
  3. Involved – We START
  4. Committed – We GROW
  5. Enlisted – We SERVE

But how do we translate these five levels into a clear path? The answer is specific for a particular community. And as the founder of MECLABS, I can only answer from the genuine community that is emerging out of our new research cohorts. Our community has been discovering its way forward. This is the emerging path:

UninformedMeclabs/MarketingSherpa articles/casesFind and SolveWe discover a rich practical solution to an important urgent problem
InterestedLiveClass (audit)Watch and DecideWe discover a powerful new paradigm for transforming our marketing results
InvolvedMEC100: Create and optimize high-converting webpagesLearn and ApplyWe discover a unique approach to interactive live optimization and coaching
CommittedMEC200: ChatGPT and AI — 40 Days to build a MECLABS SuperFunnelResearch and BuildWe discover the power of Community as we research and build a SuperFunnel
MEC300: ChatGPT and AI – 60 days to test and optimize your MECLABS SuperFunnelTest and OptimizeWe discover the impact of empowering our customers to refine the message of our SuperFunnel
MEC Certified (private) CoachingRefine and GrowWe discover how experienced teachers can help us accelerate our personal and business growth
MECLABS Intensives/CyclesEngage and WinWe discover how to accelerate our time to results
EnlistedThe GuildServe and LeadWe discover a new level of meaningful impact as we help our community.

Most importantly all of this “path” is powered by a Research Vanguard that is “pushing” their discoveries and insights into the community at speed, in tight three-week cycles of research-application-integration. This is an imperative for the Community. Research, training, and tools are becoming so tightly connected that it’s almost impossible to distinguish the difference. And so this Vanguard’s initial focus may be directed to three practical areas:

But is this community the right fit for you?

A community is made up of individuals. It’s yes(es) define it’s core; it’s no(s) define it’s perimeter. If it was right for everyone, it would lose the distinctiveness that amplifies its culture. Thus, it is right to ask if this community is a “fit” for you. How can you answer that question? There are perhaps three ways:

  1. Reflect on the Mission and the Five Values. Passion first; reason second. Look deeply inside of yourself for a “draw,” a sense of attraction. Pay attention to the way you feel as you contemplate each word and its meaning.
  2. Review the Five Levels. Live your way in; don’t guess your way in. These levels of commitment form a pathway. Could this be a journey that would enrich yourself and your work? Could the progression of “steps” give you a safe way to explore.
  3. (Most of all) Just get close and watch.  Talk about a community is not the same as talk within a community. Get as close as you can to the core, before committing. In this way, you are not parsing claims; You are experiencing “moments.”

If you would like to explore this new community just come be with us during our next LiveClass. You don’t have to talk or share your webpages, you can just watch. If after watching you’d like to go deeper, you can stay a few minutes after the main session so we can talk together. To find out more, just email me:

What then is the Way of the Marketer in Chaos?

Humanity first; Technology second. When we formed our new community, ChatGPT and the great proliferation of related and resulting tools had not even launched yet. Many of us were drawn together by an intuitive feeling that we were on the edge of another revolution – then, in just weeks the AI explosion began. Now, even as I write these words great waves of change are engulfing us. Yet amidst the confusion, some are seeing a clear way forward.

The Way of the Marketer (in Chaos) is right within the center of a new robust research-and-learn community. We must overcome our hesitation and truly connect with colleagues. We must form a conversion-focused Research Vanguard to navigate incomprehensible change. We must discipline our discoveries with tight three-week cycles of research-application-integration. We must challenge ourselves to reach a new level of supra-capability as we become Marketer-Philosophers. We must hold ourselves accountable to the values that bind us together. And thus…we must focus our energies on achieving the Summum Bonum.