Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Suzette Bailey, a science graduate turned IT CEO. I cofounded and have led Sensory7 as a boutique Information Management Consultancy for over 22yrs, growing it to be a multi-million dollar business working with government and big enterprises to solve their information challenges.
Last year I also became cofounder and CEO of SimpleMarketing.AI, where we’re helping businesses solve their content challenges through the use of content generation AI.
It’s exciting to be at the start of the first massive improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of generating business content since the invention of the desktop computer in the 1980s.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
About five years ago I was tired of working with large clients who came back to me with a similar problem every four years. And I had been mentoring and advising lots of small business owners, who struggled to systemise their businesses. So I decided to pivot my business, Sensory7, to help small businesses.
However it turned out that a background in science and corporate IT solutions didn’t make me a great marketer to small business owners. I struggled to generate marketing content and sell my genius to small businesses, while kicking huge goals with government and big enterprises.
In 2020 I saw AI had reached the point where it could write marketing copy as well as a good copywriter, 100x faster and far cheaper. Plus AI doesn’t need sleep, have bad days or time off.
I founded SimpleMarketing.AI with two cofounders to commercialise this technology and support business owners who are geniuses at what they do, but not at creating marketing content.
We’ve been growing very quickly since we launched our SimpleMarketing.AI platform in April 2021, and have expanded from generating marketing content into generating other critical business content as well.
Describe the process of launching the business.
For me the process with SimpleMarketing.AI has involved prioritising the critical tasks and working through them methodically. There are a million moving parts when launching any business and you have to be clear on which are critical.
We started by interviewing thousands of potential customers in September-November 2020 to understand their needs, and also uncovered that our biggest challenge would be proving to our customers that AI could really reduce their writing load.
We were accepted into AI Venture’s AI Incubator, which helped us focus on the key administrative steps to setup the business. At the same time we set about building our proof of concept and running many beta tests at the start of 2021.
After beta testing with hundreds of clients, we released our first commercial version at www.SimpleMarketing.AI in April 2021 and began testing pricing and marketing messages.
We kicked off partner conversations using our commercial platform. Then began investigating ways of funding additional development and sales to help us grow more quickly.
We also used our platform to learn more about our customers and identify new opportunities with larger clients, which we’re currently in the process of commercialising.
We recently redeveloped and launched the second version of our platform and are working with large clients to build out specialised AI capability for their specific content needs.
We’re now at a point where the business is self-sustaining, we have investors coming onboard and we’re aggressively building capability in our team to release and commercialise our enterprise solution globally while continuing to maintain and grow our small business platform.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We have a base of ‘raving fans’ which every business needs at its core. They tell us what they want and need, and when we get something wrong, and we listen very closely to them.
We’ve focused on a collaborative partner-based growth strategy. Thus far we haven’t used paid advertising for our platform but have focused on building use through our extensive networks and value-based media engagement, articles and informative pieces, while empowering our partners, who have trust relationships with our ideal customers, to sell and promote our platform as part of their own offerings.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our business has reached the point of self-sustainment, so our focus is now on developing additional features and broader content capability while growing our sales footprint internationally.
We’re not following the standard start-up playbook. Our three cofounders have more than 50 years’ experience building businesses, so we’ve been able to jump ahead of our competition while remaining under the radar.
We see AI as an assistive tool that can accelerate human productivity and amplify human creativity by taking on a lot of the mundane aspects of content generation.
We say that we are taking people out of the content mines and allowing them to focus their genius and time on polishing content. This improves content quality, enhances human-to-human communication and makes expert humans more effective and influential.
I believe that in the next few years almost all of us will use AI to help accelerate how we write, vastly lifting the quality of human output. We’re already starting to see this with AI autocompleting sentences in many popular applications.
More advanced AI, such as ours, is already able to turn a few dot points into well-structured prose, to simplify complex technical documents, to translate concepts between languages and to write very insightful content pieces based on a few ideas. This builds on, rather than replaces, human experience.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
This isn’t the first business I’ve started and every time I learn new things.
I think the most important thing I’ve learnt this time with SimpleMarketing.AI is that you have to solve a real pain for people today to be successful.
People are overwhelmed and stressed due to everything happening right now. They’re less able to see past the horizon or think beyond their next loan payment. This makes having vision in your business is even more valuable but also harder to sell.
You have to be crystal clear in your mission, marketing and messaging on how you’re solving your customer’s problems and pains today, even more than being able to solve their problems tomorrow.
Yet you still need to have a big vision for the future. Times will change and those with the biggest visions will reap the biggest rewards.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We run on Amazon Web Services as our infrastructure, which is critical to our business’s success and ability to rapidly grow.
We use Google Suite and Microsoft 365 to create all the documents necessary to operate and promote our business.
We use LinkedIn with Sales Navigator extensively to identify ideal prospects and engage them.
We use both Stripe and PayPal for our transactions and Xero for our accounting.
With these platforms you can build and scale globally almost any kind of business quickly and cost-effectively. And remember, none of them existed before the 1990s!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’m a big fan of Alex Mandossian’s blog and his books and podcasts (http://www.alexmandossian.com/). I’ve also found Stu McLaren’s Tribe (https://www.tribehub.com/) and Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method (https://askmethod.com/) very valuable in forming my thinking on how to establish and build businesses.
But my biggest influence has probably been Justin Herald, who created the Attitude Inc. brand (https://www.justinherald.com/)
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Go out and ask people about their problems and pain points. Even better, watch them for the pains and problems they don’t see, but just adapt their behaviour to overcome. If you have a particular problem that you can’t solve, and you can find 10 people with the same problem, then you can find a million people with that problem. Keep in mind that people won’t pay to solve every problem or pain. The best businesses solve a problem that many people feel regularly and are willing to pay to solve. Seek out great business advisors/mentors and listen to them – but keep your own counsel.
Where can we go to learn more?
Try our content writing AI service for free at www.SimpleMarketing.AI.