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Can’t Afford Artificial Intelligence for Your Small Business? Think Again.

The market for Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions has grown 54% year over year in 2020 to a $22.6 Billion market size in the United States alone. No longer considered futuristic, AI is here to stay.

AI is applicable to almost every business function.

Online retailers are using augmented reality combined with AI to create virtual showrooms with 360-degree views to provide buyers enhanced shopping experiences for everything from cars to clothes, to furniture. Hiring? Human Resources departments use AI-assisted filters to detect keywords in resumes. Want to improve your online customer support? There’s a chatbot for that. Shipping and supply chain management is often managed by AI software. The email newsletter you’ve been doing every month? That’s AI too. And so is the ability to better target social media ads enabling lower pay-per-click budgets using auto-generated posts.  

Artificial Intelligence software can also level the playing field for small businesses by increasing productivity and enhancing the ability to smaller businesses to compete with the big leaders in their industries.

But it can come at a big expense. Many of these software products are so costly that only 35% of businesses have invested $1 million or less. Yikes!

So, what’s a small business to do if their budgets are far lower? Look at these plug-and-play (aka out-of-the-box) AI solutions created with smaller budgets in mind:

  1. Google launched AI Hub, now in Beta testing and they say its ‘customer-friendly’ pricing will make it a perfect fit for small businesses.
  2. Salesforce.com the world’s #1 CRM platform has plans starting at just $25 per month.
  3. Bold360 is a relatively new entrant that boasts the ability to cost-effectively enhance your customer’s journey at each step. To get pricing, you must either sign up for a demo or contact their sales team.
  4. Zendesk’s customer support software starts at $19 per month as does their newer sales support software offering.
  5. Lately’s social media marketing software Social Animal Edition is $200 per month and promises to learn your brand voice and automatically create social posts from either new or existing content. They offer a variety of add-ons for podcast and video generators.
  6. Watson, IBM’s most famous machine-learning AI tool, is free open-source software. I’ve worked with my university students who have learned how to use Watson as a web-scraping tool to find and gather social media comments to listen for brand sentiments.

If you’re ready to enlist Artificial Intelligence for your small business, there are thousands of options so, how can you choose the AI that’s right for you?

  • Start small and scale as needed
  • Consider your budget
  • Understand the training and learning time you’ll need to invest
  • What training and ongoing support does the company offer?
  • Will it solve your small business problems?
  • Lastly, will it integrate with the platforms you’re currently using? Because free or affordable can become very expensive if this all needs replacing.

To get started with all the AI world has to offer, visit the Association for the Advance of Artificial Intelligence where you’ll find robust resources and workshops to help you on your journey.

The future is now. I’ll see you here.

Randye Spina

Randye Spina

Randye S Spina is a marketing consultant, author of a small business marketing book, and an award-winning adjunct Professor of Marketing and Communications. She serves on the board of directors of the Arts Alliance of Stratford and is a former board member of the Direct Marketing Association. Randye was the founder and managing director of Affordable Marketing Solutions, a small business marketing consultancy. In a prior life, she was Vice President of Marketing and New Product Development at a financial services company and was the first General Manager of the start-up co-branded credit card division of a global travel company. Website Amazon book link LinkedIn Twitter

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