The age of AI is here. Three in four small business owners report that they are interested in using it in their business. Yet, 46% say they have a beginner’s level of understanding of what it can do for them, according to a poll of 480 businesses across the U.S. by Constant Contact. This leaves quite a few with much room to learn, improve and understand exactly how they can leverage AI for their business needs, to ultimately make more money as they do less work.
Some businesses, on the other hand, have already seen increased profits as their productivity rises with AI tools. Brooklyn, New York-based Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire, has been using a maid of honor speech writing tool that helps anyone with writer’s block write a speech in minutes. “We created the tool using AI and trained it with over 200 real maid of honor speeches that I wrote for clients. The tool replicated my writing style and writes speeches with a human and conversational tone. Plus, the experience mimics how I work with clients,” she says, adding that it chats with her clients to pull out stories, details and memories. It even alerts clients when they’ve shared something too inappropriate or in bad taste to be included in the speech.
“Before having this AI tool, I’d spend 4-5 hours writing a maid of honor speech for a client, and because of this, I could only take on two clients a week. Now with the tool, the amount of people I can help write maid of honor speeches is endless. Since launching in July, we’ve increased our bottom line for this service by 50%,” she says.
At scale, Glantz’s concept presents the opportunity for larger businesses to save millions of dollars optimizing AI. Here’s what experts recommend trying if you are ready to dive into the future and use AI to make money.
How to use AI to make money? Find an expert
As with anything brand new and evolving, it’s hard to point out the experts at first. But the concept of an AI consultant, which goes by various new names, might be just what your business needs to outsource the job of determining where and how AI would be most helpful to you.
Rob Marsh is a direct response copywriter and founder of the Copywriter Club. He has been teaching people in his industry how to optimize AI for increased revenue. “Just like you might hire an expert to set up your email system or manage content for your content management system for your website, there’s a huge opportunity for people to be able to do this… how to connect all this stuff together.” He has someone on his team already serving in this role.
He recommends starting with a single project rather than jumping to hiring someone to “take them into the AI age.” This serves as a safety net, as most AI consultants are new to the game as well.
“[Ask] for a proposal of two to three things we should do differently, and tools that we should be using, and let’s explore that,” he recommends.
Move from panic to play
“We are all deer in the headlights, even people who are talking about it… yes, they are experts, but they’ve only been experts in this for a couple of years, and most of the time a couple of months,” Marsh says. He says we’ve just been handed a “massive box of Legos,” and have an opportunity to start putting the bricks together to see how it works. He encourages business owners that nobody is really behind at this point. “Just play around with them. Have some fun, see what they do… if you like them, keep using them.”
Soo-Jin Yang is the CEO and founder of illumino, a technology-enabled eyelash extension brand in Las Vegas. She says her company has been “testing the waters and generating ideas to get us started” using AI. They’ve tried plannthat.com to come up with social media post ideas using a mood board that they tweak as needed. This saves time, and ultimately money, in decreased brainstorming tasks.
They also use ChatGPT to edit blogs, captions and other copy, though they aren’t looking to replace all of their copy needs with AI. “It cannot replace the creativity and touch of a real human,” Yang says. Finally, they’ve implemented AI to help “clean up” photos and make them more engaging without the extra time, creating backgrounds for product images, she explains.
Do an internal audit to look for ‘low-hanging fruit’
Many businesses have already automated processes from invoicing to data entry, but David Taylor, co-founder and CPO of Promptmaster, does 30-minute AI strategy calls with clients to craft a “personalized strategy for achieving radical cost savings in the era of artificial intelligence.” The tech entrepreneur built a SaaS company that used machine learning to predict viral trends, designed and shipped more than 30 software products in the last 12 years, and co-founded the world’s largest web3 Metaverse.
Now at Promptmaster, Taylor reports seeing an “uptick” in requests from C-suite leaders on how to leverage AI. “There is a weird mix of caution and opportunism. Only a few companies have realized that AI can bring radical productivity gains to businesses,” he says. His recommendation if you want to be one of them? Look for “low-hanging fruit” in your processes.
“Take a good look at how your employees are actually doing their jobs. What tasks take a lot of effort to generate text, images or audio? What tasks revolve around editing or refining generated content? This content can be anything from presentations, internal memos, customer support conversations, marketing collateral,” he says. “Those are your low-hanging fruits to unlock productivity for your teams and redirect 30-40% of their time toward more value-generating activity.”
He recommends having at least one marketing manager adept at using AI tools, and ensuring customer support agents can use ChatGPT well. He adds that social media managers should be masters of tools like HeyGen or ElevenLabs.
“Find the tasks that are ripe for automation,” he adds. He uses an AI scoring formula with clients to estimate potential cost savings per task for companies. “Operational costs can be cut in half… if that happens at departments that are profit centers, revenues go up immediately and significantly.”
Try out these AI tools
If you hear a tool mentioned multiple times in your network, check it out to see what the buzz is about, and if it would help your business, Marsh recommends. He also likes There’s An AI for That to help identify which tool you need for a specific task.
Jeff Pedowitz, president and CEO of The Pedowitz Group in Alpharetta, Georgia, is also the author of AI Revenue Architect: Building Your Time Machine For Exponential Sales Growth. He has a list of must-try tools that could benefit leaders in most industries:
ChatGPT: continue using this or consider upgrading to the paid version
CoPilot: If you are using Outlook to send email because you’re a solopreneur, look into CoPilot
CRM or marketing automation: “If you are on Salesforce, just wait for Sales GPT to be released. Same thing if you’re on HubSpot or using Marquetto. All of these tools will have AI capability by the end of the year, so just kind of hold the line.”
Marsh adds that with more than 200 new tools hitting the market weekly, there’s no way to keep up with them all. Instead, simply prioritize the ones you keep hearing about again and again.
Work through an organized strategy plan
In Pedowitz’ book, he recommends companies follow a specific strategy to implement AI with intention throughout business practices:
Automate your key sales and marketing processes today
Clean up your data so you can feed the machine
Personalization at scale—getting AI integrated into your core systems
Opening up new revenue streams to exponentially expand your business
Cleaning up data is, in particular, something you can start with now. This involves ensuring that all the data you plan on inputting into AI is relevant to your business, and doesn’t include confidential information that might be compromised in the process.
“We don’t really know how the black box behind the bots is actually working. If it needs to be protected, such as HIPAA or banking information, don’t use that for AI,” Marsh says. “But, most of these tools have already swallowed the entire web… if you are concerned about privacy, don’t put that stuff you are concerned about into any AI.”
Finally, as with any new technology or societal advancement, Pedowitz says to consider the ethics. “If you are going to be using open platforms like ChatGPT that’s using public training data, you really have to have some guidelines in place for your team, and you need to treat it like you would any other confidential information for your clients.” He says that you can produce quite a bit quickly, but you still have to double-check it. “It’s not always accurate and has some built-in biases to it,” he warns.
With these tips, some concrete strategies and potentially a bit of hired help, your business can move to the front of the pack, leading the way into increased revenue through AI best practices.
Photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock.com
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