So you’ve developed a fantastic new software solution featuring artificial intelligence. Congratulations! Just one thing: Now it’s time to start thinking about actually launching and marketing your AI product.

Marketing an AI product: How to make your prospects care

Ironically, that’s going to take quite a bit of human intelligence.

Even though it’s about the hottest buzzword in business these days, marketing an AI product is downright tough. 

This post is designed to help developers, entrepreneurs and software companies turn their hard work into cold, hard cash. We’ll break down what AI is, common pitfalls of marketing an AI product, and some go-to-market strategies for success.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

At its most basic, artificial intelligence – commonly called “AI,” or “machine intelligence – is a computer’s ability to mimic human cognition. Rather than simply absorbing information, running standard processes and spitting out a result, AI allows the machine to perceive, “think” and “learn.” 

Examples of AI in business include:

  • Robotic process automation, where software “bots” handle human-style tasks at scale with minimal user input. A common example of RPA is credit card fraud detection. Bots can analyze every transaction in real time using numerous criteria and flag those that fail for knowledge worker follow-up.
  • Predictive analytics, where data is mined and mapped to determine the likelihood of something happening. An example here is lead scoring, where the behavior of sales prospects is analyzed against past successes to identify the best opportunities.
  • Customer engagement, like answering common questions via chatbots.

Obviously, all of these are attractive propositions for companies. The goal of AI in business is to reduce human involvement in non-value-add tasks, allowing knowledge workers to focus on core competencies. Improving the rate of data analysis, proactively notifying teams of opportunities and automating customer service are all huge positives.

It’s no surprise, then, that plenty of B2B companies are developing AI-powered applications and software solutions. 

Problem is, it’s not enough to build something. To make money, you need to sell it, too. That’s where making AI products comes in. 

And it’s pretty easy to get this step wrong.

Marketing an AI Product: What Not to Do

The most common misstep in marketing an AI product is counter-intuitive.

The absolute last thing you want to do is lead your message and positioning with the fact that your application is “AI-driven.”

Huh?

Let me explain.

Now, it’s completely OK for artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and the like to support your brand messaging and positioning. In fact, they’ll likely serve as key differentiators. But they absolutely cannot be the core of what you’re doing.

Why? Simple.

“AI” has become a buzzword. It’s absolutely a real thing, but it’s been so overused that most business owners and decision-makers tune out when they hear it.

In other words, you don’t want your only point of differentiation to be that you “have AI.” So does your competition, most likely. And if they don’t, all they need to do is make a tenuous case that something in their product is generating predictive analytics or automating a manual task, and … ta da! Artificial intelligence!

(Heck, you can do “AI” in Excel. Yes, you. Stretch the definition a bit, and that basic financial model you built the other day is “AI-powered.”)

The Algorithm Dilemma

That’s the biggest pitfall companies fall into when marketing an AI product. But there are others.

For starters, we see way too many software firms way too deep into their AI tech. They talk about their patents, the size of their training sets and their algorithms. 

Oh, the algorithms.

Spoiler alert: Do you know who cares about linear regression, logistic regression, decision tree and KNN? People who build algorithms. That’s it.

Your prospective clients do not care about your algorithm.

“But wait,” you’re thinking. “How can we show that our tech works without getting into the weeds?”

Simple.

The best way to show you know your stuff when it comes to AI is being able to explain it to normal people.

If you’re trying to sell a car to someone, do you start with explaining how an internal combustion engine works? Do you talk about how your engine has a maximum thermal efficiency of 52%, which is higher than the typical ICE?

Or do you point out that it’s a really cool color, that it’s super fun to drive, and that they’ll get 32 mpg on the highway?

AI is a tool, and a feature. And the worst thing you can do when marketing an AI product is getting caught up in tools and features.

What you really need to focus on is benefits.

Best Practices for Actually Selling Your Stuff

Now that we’ve established what you don’t want to do, how do you actually sell your AI-driven app?

It’s worth taking a pointer from Salesforce and its Einstein solution.

(They’ve got a market cap of something like $111 billion. You should listen to Salesforce.)

Here’s how they describe their AI on the top line:

“Work smarter with artificial intelligence that’s built right into Salesforce.”

They do go a bit deeper in the next sentence:

“Get more done with Einstein AI, your smart CRM assistant. Make decisions faster, make employees more productive, and make customers happier using AI-powered predictions and recommendations.”

See?

Nothing about their algorithm or the underlying tech.

No tech speak at all, actually.

Just what Einstein does for you.

When you’re marketing an AI product for a B2B audience, you need to think the same way.

How your solution works is pretty much immaterial. I don’t really care how my car works. I do care that it goes fast sometimes. And that it keeps my kids safe. And that the touchscreen is pretty snazzy.

Take some time to think about it. 

What does your solution or application offer?  

If I use it, what do I have that I wouldn’t otherwise?

Will I be notified of problems before they happen? Will I have to spend less time dealing with customer questions? Will I be able to optimize pricing in real time? Will I know the five users I need to call today because they seem like they’re slipping away?

That is what AI does. And that’s the real power you need to tap into when you’re marketing an AI product.