V Michael Santoro Of Brand Velocity.io: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Don’t jump on the bandwagon and think that not doing so will leave you behind. Take the time to explore and test different scenarios to see what works. For example, we immediately used AI to generate article content as a test. Although it read well, it was too generic no matter how we revised the AI prompts. However, we found it to be a good research tool that saved us time.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing V. Michael Santoro.

V. Michael Santoro is a seasoned SEO expert with over 18 years of experience in business development and digital marketing consulting. He founded Brand Velocity.io to help entrepreneurs build their brands online to achieve authority and trust with Google and potential customers. He previously co-founded Vaetas, LLC which developed an interactive video platform that was awarded a U.S. patent in 2017 for its real-time call-to-action video technology.

As an award-winning published author, he has been recognized for his expertise in the industry and was featured in top-tier publications including Forbes, INC., American Express, Yahoo Finance, and several others. In 2023, he also published the award-winning book, “Rite of Passage: Transitioning from Wantrepreneur to Successful Entrepreneur.

Additionally, in 2023 he was listed in Who’s Who for his noteworthy achievements that have proved to be of significant value to society.

2004, I became interested in working online. I had a multimedia background, and the Internet seemed the next logical step. I build my first website and began learning about SEO. I built it to help a friend who created a child safety product. I ranked on Page 1 organically and earned enough to pay for my daughter’s university education.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Back in 2004, I became interested in working online. I had a multimedia background, and the Internet seemed the next logical step. I build my first website and began learning about SEO. I built it to help a friend who created a child safety product. I ranked on Page 1 organically and earned enough to pay for my daughter’s university education. 

I then started an SEO company for local businesses with a business partner. We decided to evolve into a Software as a Service (SaaS) company, received a patent in 2017 and successfully exited in 2020. Since then, I have been a digital marketing consultant. I primarily work with entrepreneurs. With the difficulty getting through the online noise, I developed the Brand Velocity Program to help entrepreneurs and small businesses build their brands online. The goal is to establish authority and trust with Google and potential customers.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

One of the biggest challenges today is getting through the online noise to reach potential customers. It also takes building authority and trust online to increase conversions. Many serious entrepreneurs find it confusing when trying to determine the best approach to achieve online success. The Brand Velocity.io approach is to help entrepreneurs build topical authority for their niche. Building topical authority signals Google that you are an established brand. Google rewards established brands with good search engine rankings. Additionally, topical authority communicates trust to potential customers. Our approach is to provide a customized branded network and content marketing training that aligns with Google’s E-E-A-T and Helpful Content Guidelines. 

The Brand Velocity Program also includes how to write a nonfiction niche-specific book for increased credibility. I tested the approach starting with a brand-new domain and website. I then used the process with clients. Both experienced increased rankings and conversions. 

In 2024, your LinkedIn profile is your resume. Your online content distributed across the Internet is your portfolio and dominating Google Page 1 for your personal brand is your business card. The Brand Velocity.io Program is designed to help entrepreneurs achieve these goals.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each? 

  1. Having the grit to continue in difficult times. An example is when we were going to beta launch our new SaaS video system. A week before launch, Google announced that their platform that we used to develop our user interface was being upgraded to a new version that used different code. They also said that the previous version could not be updated to the new version. That meant that our product was obsolete and would have to be totally rewritten from scratch. It would have been easy to quit. Instead, we moved forward to design a new user interface on the upgraded platform. It added six months of development time when we were low on money. Having the grit was necessary to move it forward. Was it worth it? We received a U.S. patent for our accomplishment.
  2. Leadership – Being a confident leader to keep team members motivated. Confident and consistent leadership helps to keep a business moving forward. Having others not fear talking to you about issues is important. I have a policy. It’s okay to make mistakes. It means you’re learning and growing. Repeat the mistake and it means you’re careless and that’ll be a problem. Additionally, I encourage everyone to proactively report the issues and provide solutions for discussion. Once the best approach is determined, they are responsible for implementation. This approach reduces fear and helps to build staff into problem solvers and leaders.
  3. Being authentic and consistent regardless of potential outcome. This helped me to build a solid brand and respect with clients, vendors, and business associates. My philosophy is “Say what you do and do what you say.” I also worked on my proactive follow up skills. I try to focus on clarity. Miscommunication is the cause of most issues. By following these traits, I don’t sell, I allow people to buy from me because of the trust authenticity communicates.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line? 

In the area of digital marketing, over 75 percent of marketers are now using AI for content generation. Using AI tools has become the new standard. However, pressing the easy button to create content is causing a flood of general content to get posted online. This makes it difficult to get through the noise to organically reach potential customers. 

At first clients felt they deserved a major discount because of AI. They perceived it as pressing the easy button. There was some initial perceived magic when they entered a simple prompt into ChatGPT and received an immediate well-written reply. It required us to educate them on how producing authoritative excellent SEO-optimized content was required to succeed online. Google can penalize “thin content” and eventually this general AI content may be viewed as spam. Google’s E-E-A-T and Helpful Content guidelines are important to follow for content creation. 

We use AI tools for content research and to draft an article’s foundation. It’s important to check for plagiarism as well. We then work with the client to add value by including their expertise or experience and recommendations to help address the focus keyword’s search intent. By incorporating AI, we have become more content editors rather than content writers. We work with clients to help them build topical authority so Google views them as an established brand. This results in good search engine rankings. It also communicates trust to potential customers. So, AI is helping our bottom line by helping us to produce more content efficiently in the same amount of time.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

Many marketers use the ChatGPT paid version, Google’s Gemini, and Claude 2.0. There are other programs such as Perplexity that can help with marketing and content research. Additionally, the AI technology that has also had a significant impact on content marketing are SaaS platforms that are used for content creation. For example, Neuronwriter, Seowriting.ai and others. 

They provide a user interface that interfaces with ChatGPT for example and produces prompts behind the scenes based on user input. They then produce the article. They also offer SEO research features including searching the top 10 Google results to retrieve topical keywords used in the ranking content. Additionally, they provide competitive information about the ranking sites. 

The initial article content can then be edited using additional topical keywords to improve the SEO score based on the current ranking pages. These platforms continue to evolve and the more robust platforms, such as Content at Scale are expensive and are used by agencies. Currently, we keep testing the tools and using Google’s Gemini directly is producing good results.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

When the ChatGPT Playground was initially released, I “played” with it to test whether it was either valuable or just a new hyped-up toy. I follow major SEO and digital marketing publications and saw ChatGPT was going viral. That followed a development frenzy to develop ChatGPT plugins and SaaS content creation tools. Also seeing ChatGPT competitors launch, including Claude and Google’s Gemini confirmed AI was the next disruptive technology. 

It was obvious that AI would have a profound impact on digital marketing. However, having years of SEO experience working to rank on Google Page 1, I know that things would not end well pressing the AI easy button. Helping clients establish their brands online requires that they build authority and trust by including their expertise. AI is a great research tool and initial time saver. It’s also great to help with writer’s block. It’s important to remember that it’s a helpful tool and not a replacement for human-generated input to truly help people searching for answers to their problems.

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

We’re focused on continually exploring the correct way to integrate AI as a tool into our digital marketing solution. Our goal is to help clients build an established brand that receives increased authority and trust with Google and potential customers. With this goal, we focus on keeping up with Google’s evolution and what changes are required to help our clients. We also evaluate how to avoid Google penalties and the best way to incorporate AI without pressing the easy button. 

The most important skill is being able to interview and work with clients as subject matter experts to include their expertise and experience into the AI-generated SEO-optimized content. Or train their staff to do so. Additionally, developing exceptional content editing skills to revise and complete a finished article or video script is essential. Lastly, keeping up with the AI technology and testing results before incorporating it as part of the solution is important. 

Digital marketing is evolving from the Wild West into a professional environment that is continuously changing. Being able to quickly adapt with the help of using AI correctly is a major goal and requirement.

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

People enjoy living in their comfort zone and have difficulty with change. Knowing how to learn quickly and actionably apply new skills is a challenge. This can be overwhelming. It can feel like being a professional student. The pressure for immediate gratification can hinder learning AI tools at a deeper level and aligning this knowledge with evolving content requirements. It can feel like a moving target. 

However, the biggest challenge is the workforce wanting the AI-centric tools to do their job for them. Then they fear being replaced by AI. The human element and connection are critical for success and the workforce needs to understand their role. This includes learning higher-level analytical and critical thinking skills. This will be a job requirement as AI evolves. 

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

There are ethical, as well as legal concerns associated with using AI for digital marketing. There is a chance that the content produced by AI contains plagiarized material. It’s important to read the AI-generated content and use a tool, such as Grammarly, to check for plagiarism. https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker

Without proper attribution, this can become a legal issue. Lawsuits will become more common, for example, The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/27/business/media/new-york-times-open-ai-microsoft-lawsuit.html 

Another concern is that the same AI-generated content can be provided to multiple people. According to the US Copyright Office, the output of generative AI systems like ChatGPT is not protected by US copyright law. This is because the work must be an original, creative work of a human author.” So, for example, if someone publishes an AI-generated book, there is no copyright protection. The copyright office is studying the matter further. https://www.copyright.gov/ai/docs/Federal-Register-Document-Artificial-Intelligence-and-Copyright-NOI.pdf 

The best solution is to use AI for research and then write your own original material. It’s also important to provide attribution if included copyrighted material.

v mechael santoro

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

  1. Don’t jump on the bandwagon and think that not doing so will leave you behind. Take the time to explore and test different scenarios to see what works. For example, we immediately used AI to generate article content as a test. Although it read well, it was too generic no matter how we revised the AI prompts. However, we found it to be a good research tool that saved us time. 
  2. For digital marketing, ensure that you understand what Google and potential customers want before producing content. Google wants both conformity and originality. Potential customers want to trust a business before buying. AI alone cannot deliver this level of sophistication without human interaction.
  3. Don’t assume that the AI-generated content is thoroughly addressing search intent. While the content may be factually accurate, it won’t differentiate your client from the competition who is also using AI to generate content for the same keyword phrases. Adding unique expertise or experience to address search intent is essential when customers control the sales process and choose the business to contact.
  4. Transition from publishing content based on keyword phrases in quantity and strive to achieve topical authority in your niche. Achieving topical authority communicates to Google and potential customers that your business is an established brand. The result is good search engine rankings and increased conversions. Topical authority helps content to rank for multiple keyword phrases. Generating a topical map can take hours, however AI can dramatically reduce the amount of required time to produce it. AI can then be used to draft the associated content. However, the content needs to go beyond general information to provide a competitive advantage.
  5. Encourage clients to embrace a strategic thought leadership approach and migrate away from a “me too” solution that embraces AI as a content generation spamming mill. Becoming a though leader in your niche helps you to rise above the noise and can provide a competitive advantage. It helps to understand your customer’s needs more thoroughly and can connect with them on a deeper level. AI-content alone cannot accomplish this. AI is disruptive, however when used as a support tool for research, it’s a time saver.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

The misconception that AI will replace people in the workforce. Currently, AI can do repetitive tasks, content research and drafting well. However, it lacks the human capability for strategic thinking, creativity, and building relationships. It is important to achieve a higher-level skill set in those areas.

Another misconception is that AI can do everything in marketing. While AI does excel at data analysis and automation, it lacks human creativity, empathy, and critical thinking. It’s important that marketers build these skills and apply them to make marketing campaigns more effective. AI should be included as an effective tool that saves time and helps with writer’s block. 

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life? 

A quote that I have come to live by when running my business is, “Help people first, and the money will follow.” When I had started my first business, money was tight, and my sales pipeline was empty. It seemed the harder I pushed; the harder things became. I had received a lead and was excited at the possibility. When I met with the potential client, it became obvious to me that my solution was not a good fit. So, I decided to be honest and informed him of the solution he did need. I even recommended a company that I knew could help him. He thanked me and I left trying not to let the experience get me depressed. Several days later I received an unsolicited call. He told me that the person I helped had referred me. He could not believe what I did to help his friend. He hired me for a long-term contract and referred me to two other large accounts. I realized that giving without expecting anything in return allows you to receive from other unrelated sources.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process? 

What worries me the most is how the constant Google changes and the resulting clutter created by the proliferation of poor AI-generated content will make it harder for my clients to get through the noise. Some days it feels like I need a seatbelt to access the Internet. I deal with it by being an objective observer and not an emotionally panicked participant. We provide a solid digital foundation and ensure that our clients post great content that communicates topical authority. I usually read up on the changes and discover that the broadcasted hysteria doesn’t align with the actual changes if you follow Google’s E-E-A-T and Helpful content guidelines. It’s usually spammy site that get the most impact from the updates. It’s more about modifying and adapting to the changes when necessary.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would be to have businesses view each other as colleagues rather than competitors. There’s enough business for everyone to succeed. Each of us has difference skills and experiences that are synergistic. For example, I belong to entrepreneur groups that have other digital marketers participating. I always try to help them when they have questions that I can answer. It earns respect and communicates authority. They also provide value in return. The model would be, “help people first and the money will follow.”

How can our readers further follow you online?

My website is https://brandvelocity.io



Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.