We suspect the answer to that question is yes, but we are going to dive in and try to find out. Follow along on our blog as we try out some of the emerging AI tools. Do they help, or are they the latest fad?
First, a quick summary of the current state of small business marketing.
A Typical Small Business Marketing Process
First, you need to know what you are trying to achieve. You must have a laser focus on your audience and what makes you different from all the rest. These are your business and marketing plans. Over time you need to build your profile (brand) and credibility.
To retain customers and get new ones, you need a range of marketing tactics. The positives and negatives of each of these tactics, are discussed on our blog.
- You need to provide information (content).
- You need somewhere to keep that content (website).
- You need to ensure your target audience can find your content (SEO).
- You need a way to distribute content. Including:
- Email marketing.
- Social media.
- Offline tactics – including Word of Mouth.
- You need referrals from existing and past customers.
Most of all you will need a process, as Ad hoc marketing wastes time and money.
For small businesses with a local customer base, local marketing can simplify the process. Google My Business (and Bing Local) remain useful marketing tools to attract those in market for a product or service.
Some tactics will fit with your business, while others are a complete waste of time and effort. Often, you will be busy working day to day in your business with limited time (and money).
This may lead you to subcontract elements (or all) of your marketing to outside agencies. Outsourcing increases costs significantly but delivers expertise you don’t have and gives you back the time to work in your business.
What Are AI-Driven Tools?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new as the technology has been in development since the early 1950s. Rapid progress has been made, only to stall for several years as researchers hit a technological brick wall. As new technologies emerged, development re-started only to stop again at the next technological roadblock.
In the late 2020s, several roadblocks were overcome, which led to the release of ChatGPT in November 2022.
Without getting too technical, ChatGPT is a Large Language Model. It has been trained (machine learning) on vast amounts of text. It can, therefore, understand text (prompts) and provide answers based on those prompts. Think of it like a search engine on steroids. Go and give it a try, it’s free.
From this starting point, many other tools have emerged. Image generators, voice recognition, voice generators, video generators and much, much more.
AI-Driven Tools and Small Business Marketing
How can these AI-driven tools help a small business? Primarily because they speed up and simplify a wide range of marketing tasks. They also allow small businesses to bring creative tasks they once had to subcontract back in-house. Our guide to small business AI tools provides some examples.
Less time spent on marketing equals more time to spend on the business. Less subcontracting reduces marketing costs.
Of course, you still need a plan and a process, but (potentially) the cost of marketing tactics you do use can be reduced.
Each month in 2024, we will take a detailed look at a specific AI-driven tool (or set of tools) that could benefit small businesses and report on our findings. Keep an eye on our Blog as we progress through the year.