Traditionally, scaling a business meant expanding the human workforce.
And it doesn’t anymore!
Thank the technology gods!!!
The pandemic debunked many myths about business growth, including this one: To grow you need to hire people. We’ve learned (in the mainstream) that remote work and lean teams are remarkably effective. And we’ve fully understood the phrase ‘working smarter not harder’.
What happens when you add some recessionary facts to the equation? Whether budgets truly are tighter or not, companies are certainly employing caution in spending.
And wait, I have more!
What about the fact that top-tier talent was out of reach to begin with for many small business founders.
So, where does that leave us?
It leaves us stuck in a maze of endless tasks that we have to take on ourselves.
That’s fine for a limited time. But ongoing absorption of ‘tasks’ and ‘tactics’ leaves you with little room for strategic, high-value actions that only we (as subject matter experts, and deeply talented craftspeople) can execute.
That is not a good equation.
Where small business can look for answers to the “no time; no money” hamster wheel
There is a LOT OF HOPE in the form of artificial intelligence. AI presents immense potential to amplify small team productivity. However, it boggles my mind that while 55% of marketers are using AI, only 29% of SMBs are currently leveraging AI tools. (Stats from Salesforce Enterprise Tech Trends and Deloitte) Where there is much theoretical content out there, real AI adoption is limited because there is a lack of practical knowledge that can help small teams execute.
We really need to fix that!
Because AI-powered marketing is the edge that can help small teams break through budget and bandwidth limitations to get to real revenue and sustainable growth.
Unpopular opinion: Let’s stop pretending AI isn’t already taking jobs
People often claim AI won’t replace jobs. And that is perhaps true for roles requiring creativity and critical thinking. While AI may not replace entire roles, it is transforming elements of many marketing jobs.
As a podcast host, AI absolutely won’t replace my function of hosting shows and engaging guest as well as listeners. However, I no longer hire assistants to write show descriptions or recording notes, because AI tools can now handle these tasks quite easily without a lot of my time being used to oversee the workflow.
Are you uncomfortable with that?
Does a faint echo of this thought ring in your head(?): “Oh my gosh, what happens in the future? What will marketing assistants do? How will they learn the ropes and grow into tomorrow’s CMOs?”
You are not alone if that crossed your mind.
And here’s my answer to you:
Junior marketing assistants will no longer do those low-value tasks. Just like junior marketing assistants are no longer fetching your coffee or typing your letters today (like they did on the show Mad Men).
Because there’s tools to do that now.
You can get UberEats to deliver you the coffee, and you dictate into a phone that will pick up a transcript and send it to you.
So think much, MUCH higher!
This evolution parallels shifts we’ve seen throughout history.
Rather than resist this change, what if we as small business owners use our agility and instinctive draw towards innovation to embrace AI? Handing tedious, repetitive responsibilities to AI will give you the time to focus on high-value strategic work!
Of course, this transition requires learning new skills. Starting with understanding your own systems and workflows. This in itself proves too much for many solopreneurs, creators, and small teams.
So here are three steps any small marketing team can take to start implementing AI:
1) Educate yourself on the basics of AI and its marketing applications.
Make AI literacy non-negotiable through continual learning. Seek out sources that give you more than just theory for the use of AI. Remember, delegation is not new in business. Leaders through the generations have assigned repetitive or specialized tasks to team members, and more recently, software. AI simply represents the next stage in intelligent delegation.
When you let AI become a smart part of your days, you create space for your most rewarding, meaningful work. This is when you’ll find energy to family time, purpose-driven projects, or tackling a complex challenge that has been staring you in the face.
This ethos aligns with the concept of operating in your “zone of genius” from thought leader Gay Hendricks, in his book “The Big Leap’. Your zone of genius is where you make your greatest impact and experience your deepest fulfillment. AI can help you increase freedom to spend more time in your zone of genius.
2) Start small – identify one repetitive task to delegate to AI.
Let visible benefits motivate you to expand AI gradually. Know that implementing basic automation is much simpler than you think (caveat: when you have the right people supporting you). Begin with small steps like scheduling social media posts or analyzing campaign data. Once you can the benefits firsthand, you’ll feel confident enough to expand AI capabilities over time, both on your own, and with partners.
The barrier often comes down to education.
Refer to the point above!
Learn the AI basics, assess your needs, and research the most applicable tools for your workflows.
3) Join a community to get frameworks and peer support for real-world AI implementation.
While self-education is invaluable, the collective wisdom of fellow small business leaders and marketers will accelerate your progress.
Peer groups open valuable avenues that go far beyond JUST sparking new ideas! You’ll have the ability to troubleshoot issues, and benchmark implementations in a brain trust Tried-and-tested AI marketing frameworks along with moral support during the adoption journey is what makes for a great community.
Implementing AI requires some investment of time and effort upfront. But the long-term payoff makes it well worth it. Forward-thinking teams who embrace AI now will operate years ahead of the curve.
If you’re ready to operationalize AI in your small business marketing, I invite you to join my coveted Marketing Power Circle. Join an intimate group of founder-led brands as they mastermind together to harness the power of AI, buy back their time, and spend their days driving growth and revenue vs driving themselves crazy with operations admin.
I designed this one-of-a-kind high-value, low-obligation mastermind for you if you want to embrace AI to solve for low bandwidth and budgets, access CMO level marketing strategy without the 6 figure price tag, and grow your business in a safe and inclusive environment.