By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
Through CX.AI’s innovative artificial intelligence (AI) technology, founder Dr. Frank Buckler helps business owners improve customer experience. At the same time, he’s also an entrepreneur who aims to get his product noticed.
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In one episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, he talked about his company’s journey and how his AI tech provides better insights from customer feedback.
‘Causal’ is Something Fundamental
“Causal” is a term commonly used in the academe, but it goes back to something very fundamental. Every business needs and does this every day: They try to find what they should do to be successful. Is it a cause-and-effect relationship? What should I do to achieve a certain outcome? Why do I need AI for that?
Normally, if someone comes to you and smashes you in the face, you’re sure that that person is the cause of your pain. However, things are different in business. You’re basically smashed by 10 guys in the face at the same time. And the pain could come minutes or even months or years later. It’s virtually impossible to look at your data and experience and find out who caused you the pain. This leads businesses around the world to make mistakes in their decision-making without them even knowing about it.
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What is Causal Artificial Intelligence?
In terms of making decisions, businesses mostly look at today’s data to make decisions for tomorrow. But for Frank, it’s wrong to believe that fact means truth because fact is just a single thing. What you should be looking for is the consistent relationship between actions and outcomes. And this is not in the data — it’s something you need to extract from the data. Therefore, you need machine learning technology.
Decades ago, there were already simple statistical techniques that tried to do this. But there were strong limitations as you need to put in lots of assumptions. This is what machine learning frees us from. It frees us from unrealistic assumptions and helps us gain insights into what drives business outcomes. This is the new era ushered in by AI.
Frank started his journey 28 years ago when the first AI wave began. He was then a student and he saw how AI was used to predict stock markets. This inspired him to develop his own AI-powered technology.
Causal AI tech has different applications, including marketing and sales. But it focuses on one specific problem: How to have better insights from customer feedback.
It starts from getting customer feedback and categorising them according to what people are saying. Then, you need to qualify what’s important. You need to interpret what they really mean and you need AI for that.
Screengrab from CX.AI
Frank’s company offers the solution you need. With their technology, you can run your data and be provided with a dashboard where you can simulate results. You can even simulate fiscal outcomes by inputting the different actions you can take. Their technology is used by companies and enterprises that have a lot of customers (they could be in the Business-to-Business or Business-to-Consumers space). Currently, Microsoft is one of their biggest customers.
On Getting Noticed as an Entrepreneur
When Frank was just starting, he did strategies that didn’t work for his company. For instance, writing a book. In the latter part of the podcast episode, he detailed his experience of being an author. As going to a big publishing house takes some money, he opted to spend his money on a PR agent to market the book that he wrote and published through a not-so-famous house. However, good PR agents are also rare and you have to have connections to big newspapers. He was not saying that writing a book is a wrong tactic, but there are other ways to gain something for your business, especially online.
For CX.AI, he also did direct marketing, LinkedIn automation, and mailing. There were outcomes but he and his team couldn’t figure out how to scale as a business just yet. Because in reality, it’s hard to get the right people on the phone, speak to them, and make them interested in what you’re selling.
Their causal AI tech started gaining traction and big enterprises as customers through referrals from friends — people who already trust them. For instance, Frank got to work with Deutsche Telekom through a friend there. The company then got fascinated about what their product can do and referred them to T-Mobile USA. Then T-Mobile referred them to Facebook, then to Intel, and so forth.
Having people who trust you, works. However, it is hard to scale. This is why Frank further recommended engaging in speaking because you’ll have an audience who are like-minded and are interested in what you’re talking about.
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You can also work with a reseller because such an agency has already built relationships with their customers. It will be easier for them to sell your service because people already listen to them.
The core of these is, you need to gain the trust of the people. With trust, you can sell even the things that they may need but are not understandable for them in the first place.
Apart from their friends who give good words about them, CX.AI also got exposure in a scientific publication as they were cited by professors.
Through their software that they provided for free, they have also helped graduate students write their masters and doctoral theses (He got his connection to these students through a professor who loved the software). In return, they asked these students to give them a lead into their companies, because they were also working for organisations while writing their theses.
Basically, it starts with building a relationship with people and giving them benefits. From there, you can go up the ladder one step at a time. In Frank’s case, it took him two to three years before he started to see some fruit from his relationship with these people from the academe.
Content Marketing as a Scalable Strategy
Trust is important especially in an industry where new technologies are being introduced. Your customers need to have trust in you and your product.
As their strategy, CX.AI now focuses on content marketing. They want their target audience to see them as an authority in their field. This also helps build trust over time. And compared to referrals, this is more scalable.
Currently, they do a yearly industry study. They also publish thought leadership articles bi-weekly. They’ve also opened a group for clients to provide exclusive content for them daily. They’ve also put out a course with interactive sessions.
Apart from the mentioned content formats, they also do webinars.
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For Frank, the whole philosophy around content marketing is giving everything for free. And people will hire you because, at the end of the day, they won’t have time to digest everything and do things by themselves.
Frank shared that they further plan to hold a virtual summit and hope to conduct a physical counterpart in the future. He believes that trust can be built better through physical interactions than through virtual ones.
For the summit, the idea is to have clients speak as well. They also plan to invite vendors who are offering great solutions to their target audience. Every speaker is related to tech or tech marketing, especially customer insights (If you are interested to be part of their speaking list, you can already reach out to him).
Apart from providing speaking opportunities, the other idea is to generate revenue together through a summit offering (i.e., selling different products at discounted prices). If the speakers who are part of the event promote the event themselves, they can also earn a revenue share.
Currently, you need to pay first before being able to speak at conferences. And the payoff is hard to justify. Though you may get an audience, it would be challenging to do a follow-up and get in the funnel. This is why they’re aiming to hold a summit that’s not just an educational event. It must have a funnel to capture the interest of the audience.
Frank shared that every small tech vendor has a group of people who trust them. If 10 small, brilliant tech vendors join forces, the number of people who trust them will be 10 times more compared to their individual audiences. They all can benefit from that pool.
Trust is the Key
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For Frank, trust is a key component in any business. And it becomes more and more important because information is now everywhere. Plus, the ability to reach out to a prospect costs almost no money.
Because people are spammed with information and other free content, they actually don’t need to consume it anymore. They only reach out to their peers and people that they trust.
However, when it comes to big players, this is less important because they have already established themselves as a trusted brand. As the old belief goes, you can’t get fired by hiring IBM because everyone trusts IBM.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.