Marketing for small businesses can be informed by Artificial Intelligence, even if the technology isn’t being used by the business. Last week I read the above article. Ostensibly the article is talking about how a global brand has implemented a technology tool that has resulted in astronomic growth in the sales funnel.
A Business Owner could rightfully look at the article and see nothing of application to their organisation. As with the buzz surrounding Startups and innovation, Artificial Intelligence has the propensity to re-enforce the feeling of exclusion for business owners with mature operations from the current conversation.
However, if we peel back the article there are lessons to be learned. To start with, let’s frame Artificial Intelligence as merely automating the discovery of value or insight from inputs. Achieving the outcome more consistently and with greater speed in comparison to what a human can accomplish given the same inputs, a huge over simplification I know. If we then look at the article on the basis of trying to see where the value was being unlocked we see that Albert, the AI from Adgorithm, undertook a two-step process. This process was carried out through data evaluation and fast testing when Albert was in charge, but any business can achieve results in the absence of such a tool.
Understand who your High-Value customers are.
The first piece of this puzzle is defining what is high-value in a customer for your business. For some, this will be the customers who purchase the most from a revenue perspective. However, I would recommend focusing on discovering which customers are the most profitable for your organisation, a process that should not be undertaken from a pure gross margin perspective. Such a perspective ignores hidden overhead, such as the Cost of Acquisition. For example, a customer with the highest gross profit could consistently require a week of effort in putting the sales proposal together. Whilst a customer with a slightly lower gross profit may take a 2-hour meeting to get across the line, making them more profitable on the whole (See here for more on this concept).
Ensuring you take a holistic view of ‘High Value’ is critical to ensuring the efforts in the next step are not spent on attracting the wrong type of customer. Once you have a definition of high-value for your business you want to identify a list of current and past customers who fit this mold.
Find out what works best for attracting these High-Value Customers.
I’ve said before that one of the biggest advantages an SME has is generally proximity and intimacy with the customer. once you have identified who your High-Value Customers are, talk to them:
- Find out what attracted them to your business in the first place.
- Find out where they hang out with other people like them
- Understand what websites they visit, papers they read, and subjects excite them.
- If they are a past customer, find out why they left.
Then use this information to target your marketing to what resonates with the high-value customer and ensure that you are placing adverts in locations you know this customer profile will see. If your current high-value customers all do business early in the morning then sponsor business breakfasts, not cocktail evenings.
Doing this will help you get some of the value that Harley-Davidson achieved through AI. It may be over a longer time period and it may require a bit more time from you and your team but the results are not unachievable if you take the lesson of where the value is being unlocked.
So next time you’re about to gloss over the latest article on Artificial Intelligence, think first, What are they automating? Why are do they see value in it? Is there value in it for my business? Can I achieve this value right now?