If you were offered a magic lamp, genie waiting within to grant you three wishes, you’d be pretty excited, right? So many possibilities – private island in the Caribbean, check! However, as we’ve seen time and time again in novels and on the silver screen, people in this scenario are often poorly prepared to make their wishes. In fact, they frequently end up having to use their final wish to fix things they messed up with their first two. We quickly realize that, though powerful, the genie is no panacea for our problems.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is very similar in this regard. It’s incredibly powerful, but it is a tool that requires foresight and strategy to use effectively. Like working with a genie, you need to know what to wish for. Let’s say you could snap your fingers and suddenly deploy an AI platform that appended thousands of new, insightful datapoints to your prospect list in an instant – do you know how you would take action on this information? Have you laid the groundwork to make sure these new insights you gain are valuable to your organization?
Know What Are You Trying to Solve
Knowing the exact challenge you need to solve from the beginning will make your adoption of marketing AI much smoother, but it takes some forethought. Are you struggling to fill the top of your funnel with new prospects? Are you drowning in leads but don’t know which ones to prioritize or how to score them? Are your customers churning and you want to figure out which traits these customers have in common, so your success team can be more proactive? A lot of people are drawn to the promise of AI and think they can incorporate it into their strategy like some magic bullet. It rarely works this way. But if you first start with a crystal-clear view of the problem and then start asking how AI might help, you’re much better positioned for success.
Take Inventory of Your Resources
While sales and marketing departments would love to try out a dozen new strategies that leverage AI, it’s necessary to know your constraints. These often correspond to personnel, money, and time. For instance, net new account discovery might be incredibly appealing if you have a large sales staff ready to do outbound prospecting. However, if you’re already short-staffed, then you might want to focus your efforts on dialing in predictive lead scoring so that your sales team is only spending time on prospects that have a higher propensity to turn into customer. Records with lower ranks can be nurtured by marketing until they are truly ripe for sales.
Ensure Organizational Buy-In
Like the adoption curve for any technology, there are early birds and those who get on board much later. Those on the tail end often feel skeptical about all the hype around AI or they are simply comfortable with the status quo and averse to change. And change can be difficult. A sales rep is going to be upset with a sudden decline in leads until they understand the benefits using AI to create of a highly prioritized, hyper-targeted list.
These mental hurdles need to be overcome early to make the most of any technology solution. To sway the skeptics, it’s important to explain that AI is not viewed as, or intended to be, a cure-all. It is, however, an incredibly effective tool for teasing actionable insights out of vast sets of customer data. Likewise, those who are resistant to change are often persuaded when it can be proven that the new technology will make their work easier and make them more efficient and effective at their jobs. It’s important to take the notion of AI out of the realm of sci-fi and into that of the tangible, with concrete examples and easy to understand use-case scenarios.
It’s Worth the Work
Many marketing professionals are drawn to AI for its allure as a cutting-edge technology – I’m the same way with gear and gadgets. But often I get caught up in how cool a piece of gear is without thinking about exactly how, or how much, I’d actually use it (my closet is a graveyard of super fun, but unused widgets). Luckily, I don’t have to have to prove the ROI of my vast array of gizmos to anyone else. However, as marketing professionals, we do have to prove the usefulness and ROI of technologies to our bosses and the board. When considering an AI for marketing solution remember to properly map out your challenge and strategy, take thoughtful inventory of your resources, and get your organization sold on the real-world benefits of AI – I assure you it will be worth the work.