- AI tools can help with everyday marketing tasks like brainstorming and copywriting.
- ChatGPT isn’t always accurate, but it offers small-business owners a good, free starting point.
- Some have used the tool to support influencer marketing and save time on user research.
- This article is part of “Marketing for Small Business,” a series exploring the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs to earn new customers and grow their business.
When Candice Smith started experimenting with ChatGPT for marketing her public-relations agency, French Press PR, she found that common ways other people were using the tool didn’t resonate with her.
“I used it initially for research, and then I was really disenchanted with it because it was making up the answers,” she said, adding that she also played with using it for copywriting but didn’t like the tone of the AI-generated content.
After much experimentation, Smith found a use for ChatGPT in her marketing toolbox: She throws campaign ideas back and forth with it, the way she might brainstorm with a teammate.
Marina Guastavino described ChatGPT as the “perfect copilot” for launching her company, Directo, a web extension to help travelers book hotel accommodations. She said ChatGPT helped her cut her launch timeline to about a month and see new possibilities for marketing.
“Sometimes it comes up with some crazy ideas, but that’s good because it opens up your mind,” Guastavino said.
Christal Alert, the founder of Tonal Cosmetics, said she uses ChatGPT to get marketing expertise she can’t necessarily afford as a small brand. She described using AI tools as extensions of her team.
Here are three ways these small-business owners have experimented with AI to support their marketing strategies.
Source influencers and support outreach
Alert, who works with 30 to 40 influencers a month for her beauty brand, said she was spending one or two hours a day looking for and reaching out to new influencers.
To make that easier, she shared information about the company’s target customers and user personas with ChatGPT and asked it to create a list of influencers who aligned with the brand’s personality and ethos. She also uses AI to draft emails and direct messages she sends to influencers.
“While this process incorporates human oversight to ensure a personal touch, it significantly streamlines the influencer outreach journey, saving us precious time that would have otherwise been spent scouring for influencers,” she said, adding that she spends half as much time doing outreach as she used to.
In October, Alert used ChatGPT to help her conceptualize and organize an influencer event, so she didn’t need to pay for an event planner.
Cut time spent on user research
Guastavino wanted to get her product to market quickly. To help with user research, she asked ChatGPT for ideas about the types of users she might target.
“We say our extension is useful for frequent travelers, but who is a frequent traveler, and why do people travel frequently?” Guastavino said. “It came up with a couple of different types of people, like business travelers, people that travel for a living like influencers or bloggers, digital nomads.”
She said the program gave her generic answers at first, but when she asked it for more-specific or unexpected ideas, it came up with user types she hadn’t thought of.
As she asked questions about travelers’ motivations and behaviors, she got a better sense of their problems and how she might position her product to resonate with different types of travelers.
“I made different marketing messages for each of them, and I was able to target them a little bit more,” she said, adding that she thinks this approach helped her gain more than 25,000 users within six months of launching.
Create a launch campaign
When Smith had an idea for a lead-magnet quiz to market a relaunch of her PR accelerator program, she felt overwhelmed figuring out exactly how to distribute it.
“I’m so used to making connections with people and having word of mouth be the way that I promote my services, I was very unsure about how to promote this quiz,” Smith said.
She gave ChatGPT context about what she was creating and who it was for, and the tool outlined a launch plan she could follow, including creating a prelaunch landing page and developing a drip email campaign. It even offered ideas for blog posts to promote the quiz.
Smith said she likes to approach working through ideas with ChatGPT as if she’s chatting with a colleague.
“Give it as much background as possible, give it context of what you’re expecting from it, maybe even tell it what you don’t want to get, and play with that,” she said, adding that the tool isn’t a replacement for creativity but a thought partner.
“I’m using this to start myself off,” Smith said. “I’m saving myself many, many hours of work, because I have something to react to rather than creating from scratch.”