How will AI Change the Landscape of the Promo Industry?

MerchBot technology is a quantum leap, merging merch and technology together.

AI, or artificial intelligence, is the new gamechanger. Technology moves across the spectrum at an incredible pace, making it difficult to keep up. I was recently approached by, Ron Friedman, president of MerchBot, a long-time friend, a creative, and tech expert who shared his vision on how AI will be a “positive” disruptor in the promo industry. To give you a better insight to how AI will affect our industry, I have devoted this article to a questions and answer session with Ron, to answer the hard questions and dispel the myths behind this emerging AI MerchBot Technology. Be prepared, this MerchBot technology is a quantum leap, merging merch and technology together in what can be described as limitless for our industry. Below is a recap of that interview.

CQ: Ron, what is AI exactly?

RF: Artificial Intelligence, commonly known as AI, is a branch of computer science that aims to create machines capable of intelligent behavior. It’s not just about executing predefined tasks; it’s about learning from data, adapting to new situations, and even predicting future outcomes. Think of it as a highly advanced form of pattern recognition that can be applied to anything from natural language processing to complex data analysis. It’s a transformative technology that’s reshaping industries and the way we interact with the world.

CQ: What role do you see AI playing in the promo industry?

RF: In the promotional industry, AI has the potential to be a game-changer. It can make merchandise not just a physical item but an interactive experience. Imagine a promotional T-shirt that can interact with the wearer, providing them with personalized information or offers. Or consider a branded smart device that learns user preferences over time, making the brand more ingrained in the user’s daily life. AI can add layers of engagement and personalization that were previously unimaginable, turning ordinary merchandise into powerful brand ambassadors.

CQ: What percentage of the business public are using, say, Chat GPT?

RF: It’s challenging to pinpoint an exact percentage, but it’s safe to say that adoption is on the rise. Actually, a rise faster than we have EVER seen compared to most other unicorn startups. For example, the research points out that ChatGPT has around 100 million users just 2.5 months after its launch. To understand how impressive those numbers are, it took Facebook 4.5 years, WhatsApp 3.5 years, Instagram 2.5 years, and Google almost a year to reach 100 million users. Businesses across sectors are beginning to understand the value of AI and its most used format, AI powered chatbots for customer service, sales, and even internal operations. For Brand Merch one key area of use are trained chat bots, we call them MerchBots, that act as brand ambassadors that are available 24/7 and activated from any logo brand merch. As technology becomes more accessible and its applications more diverse, we can expect to see a significant uptick in usage across the business landscape.

CQ: Do you see end-user clients resisting this technology, and will they require training?

RF: Resistance to new technology is a natural human response, especially when it comes to something as complex and potentially disruptive as AI. However, the beauty of well-designed AI solutions is their user-friendliness. Most end-users should be able to interact with AI-enhanced products without requiring specialized training. The goal is to make the technology as intuitive as possible, so it enhances the user experience rather than complicating it. In terms of our industry, MerchBots require no training. It is using the same skill set as the most popular app for everyone. The Messaging App. It is that simple. Launch an on brand chatbot from brand merch. Chat with the brand ambassador and get informed and act.

CQ: How can a MerchBot help a company, distributor, or supplier, with their clients?

RF: A MerchBot can serve multiple roles, acting as a customer service representative, a product recommender, and even a data analyst. Imagine a scenario where a customer has a query about a product; the MerchBot can instantly provide detailed information, suggest related products, and even offer discounts or promotions. All of this happens in real-time, creating a highly personalized and engaging customer experience. Additionally, the data collected through these interactions can provide invaluable insights into customer behavior and preferences, helping companies fine-tune their marketing strategies.

CQ: What are you hearing from folks you’re speaking with about concerns regarding AI?

RF: The most common concerns usually revolve around data privacy and ethical considerations. People are understandably cautious about how their data is being used and stored. There’s also the issue of algorithmic bias and the need for transparency in how AI models make decisions. These are all valid concerns that the ai industry is actively working to address. Ensuring ethical AI usage and robust data protection measures are crucial for gaining public trust. As this relates to MerchBots for promotional merch, the data is all public. The bots are trained on public marketing data. Of course, we promote for user not to share any private data with the bot. Essentially the AI bots are trained brand ambassadors and the scope of data is limited to just that. Public marketing content.

CQ: What is involved in the training?

RF: Training an AI model is a multi-step process that starts with data collection. This data is then used to “teach” the model to perform specific tasks. The model is fine-tuned through a process of trial and error, adjusting the algorithms based on the accuracy of its outputs. It’s a bit like teaching a dog a new trick, except the dog is a complex machine, and the tricks are data-driven tasks that can range from simple to highly complex. The better the training, the more effective and reliable the AI model becomes. MerchBots offers clients the opportunity to upload PDFs, Word Docs, Text Docs, Website URLs. Really any data that is text based. That data can amount to 22 average size novels of data. That would take someone about 76 Twelve-hour days to comprehend.

CQ: Do these MerchBots require a ton of data?

RF: While it’s true that more data can lead to better outcomes, it’s not always about quantity but quality. Even a small dataset, if it’s well-curated and relevant, can be highly effective for training an AI model. The key is to start with a clear objective in mind and collect data that is directly relevant to that objective. Over time, as the model interacts with users, it can continue to learn and improve, even if the initial dataset wasn’t particularly large. Starting with a website, a few PDFs of curated content is a great place to start.

CQ: What are the disadvantages of implementing AI into one’s business?

RF: The main disadvantages of implementing AI in business are the initial setup costs and the need for ongoing maintenance and updates. AI is a rapidly evolving field, and keeping up with the latest advancements can be both time-consuming and resource intensive. There’s also the ethical dimension to consider, particularly concerning data privacy and algorithmic fairness. Businesses need to be vigilant in ensuring that their AI implementations are both ethical and compliant with relevant regulations. MerchBots is an inexpensive gateway approach.

CQ: Do you feel those who do not embrace AI technology will lose a competitive advantage?

RF: Absolutely. As AI continues to make inroads into various industries, companies that fail to adapt risk falling behind. It’s not just about automating tasks or crunching data; it’s about enhancing customer experiences, gaining deeper insights into market trends, and opening new avenues for innovation. In today’s fast-paced business environment, failing to leverage such a powerful tool could be a critical mistake. The businesses that add the power of AI into their marketing mix, will see a huge bump in not only customer satisfaction, but in sales and profit growth.

CQ: Where do you see AI going in the future?

RF: The future of AI is incredibly promising. As AI technology matures, we can expect to see it becoming more integrated into our daily lives, both personally and professionally. Beyond mere automation, AI has the potential to revolutionize how we diagnose diseases, combat climate change, and even explore outer space. In the business context, AI will enable more personalized customer experiences, more efficient operations, and entirely new business models that we haven’t even conceived of yet.

CQ: How can my readers find more information on MerchBots?

RF: For those who are interested in learning more about how AI can benefit their business, particularly in the promotional industry, feel free to visit our website at You can also reach out to us directly at for more personalized queries. We’re always here to help you navigate the exciting yet sometimes daunting world of AI.

CQ: Thank you, Ron.

For a lengthier, more in-depth conversation, please watch my 30 Minutes to Greatness Podcast on this subject at

My goal was to help bring some clarity and simplicity to the topic of AI, specifically in the promo space. My hope is this snip-it of information has provided you with a more in-depth understanding of the role and potential of AI, and its transformative technology.

Lastly, I was so impressed by what he shared, I invested in the technology for my company, building out a MerchBot utilizing my 40 years of sales, marketing, innovation, creativity experience, and content. Scan the QR code below and ask me related questions so you can see the technology at work first-hand. As always, I would love your feedback and comments.

How will AI Change the Landscape of the Promo Industry – Cliff’s Notes – PDF