sales and marketing

It’s almost impossible to avoid the headlines about AI these days, and it seems like there’s a new advancement to jump on each week. 

And while companies of various sizes are getting on board, larger companies are 100% more likely than smaller ones to deploy AI, according to IBM research. 

But small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) stand to grow the most when using AI properly.

In this blog, we’ll talk about some barriers to entry and how to overcome them, the benefits SMBs can expect out of AI, the unique cost-saving advantage of AI, and how to implement AI into your own organization.

What Keeps SMBs From Using AI?

While AI is all over the press, it’s not necessarily immediately accessible to every business—especially smaller ones.

That’s because 31% of non-users say they don’t think AI would help their business, and about 30% say they just don’t know how to use it, according to Forbes.

But there’s more to it. Smaller businesses need a lot more resources—including time, budget, and manpower—to adopt AI. In contrast, larger businesses are reaping the benefits right away because they lack the same barriers that often keep smaller businesses from pursuing it.

Interestingly, however, SMBs are the ideal demographic for AI for the exact reasons they are wary of adopting it. Proper AI integration can free up limited time by automating repetitive tasks, so workers can focus on higher value projects.

The proof is there: 91% of SMBs that have implemented AI have seen an increase in their success.

So, what do SMBs stand to gain out of a proper AI implementation? Let’s find out.

Related: Why is There a Lack of Understanding of AI in Marketing?

What’s In It For SMBs?

One of the more foundational benefits AI can offer is in customer and market research. SMBs are often strapped for resources, and the kind of extensive research they need often requires a dedicated individual or team. 

But generative AI can help SMBs quickly analyze huge volumes of customer data and deliver insights from that data, including what those customers are saying about their products. And the feedback goes both ways, with some AI tools offering the ability to engage with customers around the clock, offering excellent support on demand.

A second time-saving benefit of AI is its ability to automate mundane, time-intensive tasks. Things like sending invoices, creating marketing lists, monitoring social media, and sending customer emails are just a few things AI can take off the plates of SMB marketers.

By automating more, marketers can stand to gain 16 hours (or two full work days) of added productivity. That’s major.

But there’s one more huge benefit that SMBs will really want to tune their ears to, and we’ll cover that next.

Related: How to Choose the Right AI Tools and Solutions

The Cost-Saving Advantage of AI 

It’s no secret rising costs and the current economic climate are weighing heavily on all businesses, but SMBs are especially vulnerable. According to McKinsey research, 37% of SMBs say inflation is their biggest challenge, with 1 out of every 5 SMB owners saying they expect to see their growth slow down.

While that might sound bleak, AI can provide a light at the end of the tunnel for smaller businesses wanting to do more than just stay afloat. It can be a budget buffer during trying times.

Here’s how. By automating manual labor, AI can give back added days—not hours—of productivity, as we’ve already mentioned. But that also means fewer resources are wasted, and energy and materials are used properly. 

Those benefits also translate to an increased marketing ROI. SMBs can see their ROI improve as a result of more leads, better insights about their customers, automated tasks, content generation, and other AI functions.

But it’s not just a numbers game. Customer loyalty goes a long way in contributing to an SMB’s overall fiscal growth, and AI can perform all kinds of customer service jobs. Chatbots can support customers at all hours of the day; AI tools can personalize customer engagement actions; and social listening tools can monitor for mentions of your brand, so you can pivot on a dime.

These benefits are still just the tip of the AI iceberg. So, how do you get started?

Related: How AI Can Transform Customer Engagement

Need a Push? Start Here

Even with all the benefits of AI, getting started can still seem daunting. You might be thinking, “There are so many tools out there. How can I evaluate what’s right for me? And how can I make sure I’m using my budget on the right thing?”

Here’s a great place to start. Check out The Role of AI in Marketing: Smart Strategies for Maximum Impact for comprehensive help with knowing what’s available, how to incorporate AI into your existing marketing approach, and how AI forms the foundation of a robust marketing strategy.


Need guidance knowing how to best use AI to enhance your marketing approach?

Check out The Role of AI in Marketing for practical advice and insights from real-world peers.
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