How small business can improve marketing results with Artificial Intelligence

Insights Up Front

  • Many businesses are frustrated with the lack of ROI, and the time required, for marketing.

  • We recommend a two-step process.

  • Step 1: Follow the StoryBrand approach to get clarity on your message.

  • Step 2: Use AI to automate marketing tasks.  AI can automate the research into good topics to write about, and then write the marketing material for you.  Once that is implemented, AI can track your competitors’ response so that you continue to stand out.  

Frustrated with Marketing Spend?

Have you ever said, or heard one of your colleagues say: “I’m so disappointed.  I spent 1000s of dollars on my marketing campaign and it didn’t make any difference.”

We did.  When we said that to an experienced entrepreneur, his response was, “welcome to the club.”

Are you feeling frustrated by your marketing results?  Are your sales/revenue stagnant?  Are you losing to the competition because your message is unclear?  Do you have a website that does not grow your business?  Do you worry about how much money you are leaving on the table due to bad marketing?

These are questions that keep business owners up at night.

As entrepreneurs, we understand how important it is to get this right.  If people don’t understand the value you provide, it doesn’t matter how good the offering is.

But most business people didn’t get into business because of the joy of marketing.  Marketing is something they must do to connect with customers.  

Marketing is also difficult.  Done poorly, marketing can be an expensive sinkhole. 

To be able to sleep at night, we recommend a two-part plan. Get help clarifying your message in a way that customers will appreciate, and then get help from an AI in leveraging your data. 

You won’t be alone.  One survey by Vistage finds that nearly 30% of small and medium-sized business believe AI will be the technology that has the biggest impact on their operations.  Forbes says that for small business, “AI can even help facilitate natural sales conversations, answer customer service inquiries and track customer behavior data to inform your marketing decision.”

Step 1.  Clarify Your Message.

The StoryBrand Framework is a popular messaging tool designed to improve your business’ marketing strategy by clarifying your message.  By using this framework, you can communicate immediate value, connect with your ideal customers, and grow your business.

The StoryBrand Framework helps businesses simplify their message by using a story-based approach that places customers at the center of the hero’s journey.   Every classic story, from Homer’s Iliad to Star Wars, follows a similar formula. It’s the hero’s journey. 

In his book Building a StoryBrand, best-selling author Donald Miller lays out the 7 parts of the Hero’s journey in the context of a business: 

  1. A Character (your customer)

  1. Has a Problem (they need to solve)
  2. And Meets a Guide (your business)
  3. Who Gives Them a Plan (your solutions)
  4. And Calls Them to Action (to start the buying process)
  5. That Ends in Success
  6. And Helps Them Avoid Failure (what would happen if they don’t buy)

Note that you (or your business) is not the hero.  It is the customer who is the hero, and you are the Guide.  

Why do marketing in the form of a story?  Stories are easier for our brain to remember.  From the point of view of the customer, this story speaks to their needs, motivations, and challenges.  It is interesting to them, because it is about them.  A good story has the power to attract the right people to your website, engage and hold their attention, and persuade them that you are the guide to help solve their problems. 

A business owner can take a course on how to apply the Storybrand approach, or get help from a certified Guide.  We found great value from getting the help of our guide, Moses.

Step 2:  Get Help from AI on Drafting Content

Having clarified  your message, the next step is to go ahead and start communicating that to customers by writing content (e.g. blog articles, web pages).  AI can help in at least 3 different ways.

Pick a Topic

Having figured out your overall message, the next step for most companies is to figure out what they are going to write about.  One way to pick a topic is to go with whatever you care most about, and what will be authentic.  We absolutely support this idea as part of an overall strategy.  Being authentic will help you connect with your readers and customers.  Here is the risk.  If you pick a topic that is too generic, or that is already dominated by some large players, it may be that few people ever read what you write.  (“If a blog falls in a forest” so to speak).  

Here is the test you can try.  Pick a topic, type it into Google, and see what comes up on the first page?  Suppose you pick the topic of cars.  You will most likely see something from Wikipedia, a major automobile company, or someone selling used cars.  The chances are that no matter what you write, it will never get picked by Google ahead of one of those big players.  Trying to be the top ranked blog on that topic is like trying to climb a mountain far greater than Everest.

Now pick a different topic that is more narrow, like car seats, and you’ll have a much easier time ranking.  You can even get into niche topics, like different types of car seats by car model, or by limiting the scope to a certain country.  Ranking for one of these topics is more like climbing a small hill.

There is a tradeoff at work here.  There are far more people typing “cars” into Google than “sports car seats in Canada.”

The aim is to find a sweet spot: a topic where it is possible to rank on the first page of Google, where there is a sufficient number of people interested in it to be a viable market for your business.

Software tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs have all sorts of tools to help you find that sweetspot.  They’ll tell you how hard it is to rank for a particular search team (on a 0-100 scale) and how many people are searching that term each month, by country.  This approach is called “search engine optimization.”

This is fabulously useful information.  It allows you to combine your authentic voice, with a little bit of data, and actually connect with people who are looking for your content.

Here is the catch.  It takes quite a bit of effort to master these tools.  And learning these tools is not why you got into business.  That is why so many companies, who don’t have the time, patience or interest in becoming a master of “search engine optimization” get help from a marketing agency.  

Now, AI can make this process easier.  Rather than you sorting through all of the data, and trying to find that sweetspot, the AI can suggest the topics to you.  Doing this requires getting the more expensive versions of tools like SEMRush, or some of the tools listed in the next section.

Essentially, you have a choice.  You can grind through the results on your own, or you can let the AI pick the topics for you.  

Write the First Draft of Your Content

With some keywords in mind, you can finally solve your writer’s block problems by asking the AI to write content for you.  

There are simple versions of AI tools like CopyPro.  Working with a series of templates and drop down menus, you specify what kind of that you copywriting you need (e.g., an article or an email) and your purpose (e.g., connect and build rapport, or followup with prospects who didn’t buy) and other criteria like tone and length of message.  Based on that, the AI will generate a template for you to consider.

MarketMuse collects and analyzes your content, prioritizes your best opportunities based on Authority and ROI, and builds industry-leading topic models.  The goal is to be able to write the best content on any topic.

There are also tools like Growthbar.  Its AI can generate content outlines for your blog or website with proper titles, introductions, keywords, word counts, headers, images, and links.  Growthbar is the first SEO tool to use OpenAI GPT-3 and it is a big deal.

Put simply, it’s an AI that is better at creating content that has a language structure than anything that has come before it.

Perhaps even more advanced is Jarvis (which is a nod to Marvel’s Iron Man series) promises to save you hours, by having the AI write clever, original content for you.  It can easily adjust the tone, or translate it to multiple language.

These ideas are not limited to preparing blogs.  With ReSci You can take the same approach and apply it to email campaigns.  Take, for example, welcome emails to new customers.  Instead of marketers spending time trying to map out journeys, most of which were just conjecture, they trained their AI to develop its own approach.  These emails trigger shortly after a user signed up with a business. The emails would send on the days and times that were best suited for any individual user, as opposed to everyone getting the same message on day 3, or 4, or 5 in a traditional welcome series. So now, instead of intensively mapping users in a workflow tool, companies can just put some emails in these stages, and all new signups would be nurtured along, but more intelligently, and at scale.

Ongoing Market Intelligence

Marketing is a dynamic environment, and your competitors are going to respond to what you do, quite possibly using the same tools listed above.

When they act, they are likely to leave a digital footprint, and much of it is traceable with Crayon’s AI.  It allows you to track 100+ data types across hundreds of millions of sources.  It curates this information, to pull the “signal from the noise” and gives actionable insights to product, sales and marketing teams. 

No human or team of humans can possibly keep track of all these types of market intelligence:

  • Conversion Tests & Promotions: Review the latest conversion campaigns and promotions running in your market, even if they’re still in testing mode. 
  • Content & Social Media: Monitor what your competitors are publishing across the web so that you can create differentiated content and get insights into their target audience and keywords. 
  • Positioning & Presence: Catch new website sections added, new design and branding launched, and changes to company profiles on third party sites.
  • News & Events:  See what events they’re sponsoring, what awards they’re winning, and what coverage they’re getting.
  • Product, Pricing & Packaging: Catch any changes to features, pricing, and packaging to drive executive and product strategy. 
  • Support Threads & Reviews: Hear what real users think of your competitors’ products through third party site reviews. 
  • Customers & Partners: See which customer case studies are getting added or removed, and take note of industry or use case focus. 
  • Team & Personnel: Identify competitor strengths and weaknesses from employee reviews, key leadership changes, and office openings.

What’s next?

We know how important it is to be an innovative leader, and how hard it is to get unbiased guidance on artificial intelligence.

We get it.  We act as translators between business people and technical people.  We understand both sides of the conversation, and are able to help you tap into the power and the potential of AI.  

Our advice is independent, and vendor-agnostic.

To learn more, set up a free 30-minute Breakthrough Call.  We guarantee that you’ll come away with insights on how AI can transform you into an industry leader.

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