If you haven’t seen any discussions about ChatGPT, AI, and how far they can go, then we can only assume you’ve been offline for some time.
Everywhere you turn on the internet and social media sites there’s an AI article promising doom and gloom and another one promising endless possibilities and a rosy future, along with a highly engaged and passionate crowd of fans or foes of AI all busy pointing out at length why they are right.
Everyone is talking about ChatGPT along with AI and its impact on society. Almost everyone has a strong opinion about what it means and about what impact it will have.
There are certainly some issues with software such as ChatGPT, including where the data came from that these programs were trained on and whether any of it was copyrighted material. There’s also the issue of copyright for anything generated with this software and other software like it. Courts across the world are likely to be debating these issues for quite some time. These things must be addressed as this technology becomes more widely adopted and, at some point, the law will catch up with our new reality, with decisions made and regulations introduced.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use AI until everything is settled. But make sure you use it wisely.
Quick tips on using generative AI:
- Ensure you get a real human to read through and proof your AI output for flow, grammar, punctuation, homophones, and all the usual checks you’d do with any content.
- Run your AI content through a plagiarism checker and make sure none of it has been simply picked up wholesale from elsewhere and planted in your content.
- Don’t just use your AI-generated content as is. Add your own voice, your own examples, and stories. Make it unique and make it sound like you and your brand voice.
- Use it for research and as a starting point rather than for writing everything for you. It can be incredibly helpful for generating content quickly, but it does need a human eye to make sure it reads well and is what you wanted.
- Always double-check any facts and statistics that AI throws out. It has been known to simply make things up but still manages to sound extremely convincing if it doesn’t know the answer.
Using generative AI for small businesses will be a huge opportunity for local business owners that embrace this software. Just keep your eyes open for new developments and legal implications and use it with our tips in mind.
What is generative AI?
Let’s start with some definitions.
Artificial intelligence involves using a computer to mimic being human and perform tasks as if the computer was a human being. We’ve all seen this when we’ve used basic chatbots. The chatbot doesn’t have any intelligence of its own. It can only do what it’s been programmed to do by humans and answer the questions it has been taught.
Machine learning takes that a step further and now you have machines being fed huge amounts of data and learning from it without the need for human involvement. With machine learning, you can go a little further and you’re likely to get, among other things, more advanced chatbots that can answer more complex questions, extrapolate from data, and continually learn and improve.
Software such as ChatGPT takes machine learning far further. We’re still not at the point of any real intelligence, but ChatGPT and similar programs have been trained on vast amounts of data, allowing them to “generate” their own text, code, answers, content, art, music, and more. While there are still some problems with them, including inaccuracies and bias, you can give ChatGPT a title for a blog post, for example, and some prompts and expect to see a reasonably high-quality post, that doesn’t necessarily sound like it was written by a computer.
As for that chatbot, you might even be fooled for a while into thinking you’re talking to a human.
How can generative AI help your small business?
Generative AI can help small businesses save time and money, improve creativity, quickly generate ideas, shorten product development cycles, understand their audience better, and a whole host of other benefits, leading to increased success.
The most obvious use for generative AI is to help you create content. With ChatGPT, you can use prompts to generate blog post titles, meta titles and descriptions, headings and subheadings, keywords, marketing tag lines, sales copy, blog posts, ebooks, and more. You need to refine your prompts to guide the software into giving you what you want, and both you and it will get better over time at quickly producing what you want. As we said above, you might not want to use generated content as it is, but it certainly can help you get a head start on your content creation and idea generation.
Here are just some of the other ways you could use generative AI to assist your small business:
1. Personalized Marketing
Everyone is talking about personalization as another marketing “must have.” Of course, it is important to personalize and tailor content to your customers and potential customers. It adds greatly to their customer experience and makes them feel understood and valued.
Luckily, with generative AI, you don’t have to do all that work yourself and you can still benefit from personalization. Small businesses can use generative AI to create personalized marketing content for their customers. Provide customer data to your AI software, guide it with prompts to help it generate exactly what you want, and you can have hundreds of possible tailored messages, emails, or advertisements for individual customers.
Obviously, you’ll need to go through them and pick out the best ones, perhaps also using them to generate ideas of your own, but that list that would have taken you hours will be generated in seconds.
That saves you huge amounts of time over the course of a year, allowing you and your marketing team to focus on managing campaigns, building the business, and looking at the big picture.
Not only that, but those personalized messages can increase engagement and customer loyalty, too.
2. Predictive Analytics
Most small businesses have reams of data on marketing performance, previous sales, what sold the most or least in each month, accounts, spending, lead generation, and far more.
This data is priceless information that you can use yourself to help predict the upcoming year and plan to grow, but you can also use that data with generative AI to find patterns, trends, and highly useful analysis that would take you weeks to pull together.
Generative AI can then provide you with reports and predict future outcomes for your business.
This can help your small business make informed decisions about inventory management, pricing, and customer behavior, among other things, setting you up well for future planning and potentially helping you get ahead of the competition.
3. Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
Since the pandemic, customers have increasingly begun to expect an excellent customer experience when they shop online. They now expect that they can search and get answers to their questions at any time, day or night, and on any platform, including social media.
Of course, it’s not possible for most small businesses to staff their customer service departments around the clock, but you can use chatbots and virtual assistants to provide answers to many questions and to at least let them know you’ve got their message and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible.
That’s a much better customer experience than someone asking a question today and then having to wait forty-eight hours for your customer service department to respond.
Small businesses can use generative AI to create these chatbots and virtual assistants, giving you customer support 24/7.
The big benefit of this for you, as a small business owner, is that it saves time and frees up your people to do other things, while still ensuring that your customers get top quality customer service.
4. Product Development
We’ve talked about how AI can use your business data earlier, but one other way that generative AI can really make a difference is by helping you develop new products.
Generative AI can rapidly analyze your customer preferences and generate ideas for new products that align with those preferences.
AI is likely to come up with ideas and combinations of ideas that you may never have thought of, and those ideas will probably have you coming up with ideas of your own.
You can speed up the whole process of product creation by quickly getting ideas together via AI, and then running through your usual product development process.
This allows you to stay competitive, save yet more time, and still meet the changing needs of your customers.
AI can help small businesses be more efficient, effective, and customer-focused, ultimately leading to increased success.
Take it, use it, run with it even, but keep your humans very much involved in checking its results, smoothing out its content, and keeping an eye on the latest developments.
Surefire Local is already incorporating AI into the technology stack we provide our customers. Get a demo to see how this new technology can benefit your business.
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