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The MarTech Laboratory at Ulster University recently delivered a landmark event at the new Marketing Intelligence Lab (MIL) on the Coleraine Campus, titled ‘Working Strategically with AI in Digital Marketing: A SOSTAC® Approach’. 

The event was held on 21 March and provided an opportunity for delegates to expand their understanding and application of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in digital marketing, guided by the expertise of Marketing and Business author PR Smith, through an interactive, hands-on workshops.

The experience brought together PR Smith along with Ulster University staff, Dr. John Bustard (Senior Lecturer in Digital Transformation) and Professor Geoff Simmons (Professor of Marketing and Consumer Insight), to explore the future of marketing in the age of AI with the event’s attendees who included digital marketers, strategists and business owners.

Guests attending were treated to a day of insightful learning and networking, as they deepened their knowledge and gained valuable insights and skills that would support them in harnessing the power of AI to innovate and improve their marketing efforts.

The event commenced with a networking session that provided a platform for professionals to share ideas and forge connections through the MarTech Laboratory’s #6SCommunity, which is Student led, Specialist supported, working with Startups, Social enterprises, Sustainability and Social good, focused partners.

Author PR Smith led an insightful keynote on the evolution of digital marketing strategy, introducing participants to the transformative potential of the SOSTAC® planning model in today’s AI-driven landscape.

Delegates then attended a series of workshops hosted by Ulster University academics.

Dr Bustard led participants in implementing AI with a more strategic framing, offering attendees a rare opportunity to gain practical experience learning to craft perfect prompts and access a range of AI tools applying theoretical principles to increase the quality and consistency of outputs.

Professor Simmons led a workshop introducing the new Marketing Intelligence Lab (MIL) in Coleraine and shared the ‘data driven approaches’ delivering value in an AI world, skilfully sharing insights from his knowledge of data available through his partnership with DunnHumby and its Tesco Clubcard insights.

Both these sessions covered strategies for optimising marketing campaigns, personalising customer experiences and leveraging data analytics, directly applying AI's power to real-world marketing challenges.

Reflecting on the event, Dr. John Bustard said:

“The enthusiasm and engagement we saw today underscores the critical role of Ulster University as a key enabler in exploring how AI will shape the future of digital marketing and business more generally."

Author PR Smith stated:

“I’m honoured to be working with Dr John Bustard and Ulster University’s MarTech Laboratory – from helping local businesses to African start-ups in using AI & my SOSTAC® Planning framework to grow their businesses has been illuminating.”

This project is part of the MarTech Laboratory’s ‘Engaging Tomorrow's Talent Through Transformative Marketing Technologies’ and is funded by the University’s Internal ISPF Funding Opportunities Networking Call.

The event has set a new standard for the integration of strategic thinking leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) in digital marketing and was highlighted for impact by MLA Peter McReynolds in Parliament Buildings.

Speaking from an event in Stormont, Peter McReynolds MLA commented:

"I’m proud to promote this community, from government buildings, that is boosting growth in our economy via AI and marketing and bringing those same skills to Africa to help boost their development too.” 

The overwhelming positive feedback from attendees attests to the event's success in demystifying AI for marketers and providing actionable strategies for practitioners to enhance their digital marketing efforts through AI. The workshops were lauded for their ‘hands-on’ approach, equipping participants with the tools to implement AI at a more effective level through deeper understanding of theory and practice and framing through better questions.

Following on from the event, Dr John Bustard was invited to host a talk by the International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism (IFITT), to its diaspora which represents members from 89 countries across 6 continents, focusing on the power of AI in strategic digital marketing. The MarTech Laboratory also hosted a series of free, hands-on workshops, that were specifically designed to harness the potential of generative AI for strategic applications in travel and tourism.