Podcast

Episode: 555 |
Cheryl Lim Tan:
AI Project Case Study:
Episode
555

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Cheryl Lim Tan

AI Project Case Study

Show Notes

Cheryl Lim Tan discusses her experience working with a financial wellness product powered by AI. The client was early in their journey and needed to raise awareness of their product. They needed to refine their product further and gain more users to gain feedback and make adjustments to its features. Cheryl was brought in to take care of the entire marketing function. Cheryl’s approach involved figuring out the company’s brand, target audience, and value proposition. She also focused on articulating the unique value proposition of the product compared to free tools like Chat GPT. By addressing these aspects, the consultant was able to create a clear framework for the client’s marketing function and reach investors.

Customer Education and AI

Cheryl highlights the importance of education in the AI world, as AI tools are prompt-driven and consumers may not know how to interact with the interface and how to prompt it. To address this, they developed a suite of YouTube videos on how to prompt the tool for different situations or information. Another key aspect of targeting the client was developing personas. These personas were identified and distilled into a framework that included the top three messages, pain points, and expectations for each persona’s customer journey. Cheryl emphasizes the importance of consumer education in the AI world, as it helps to draw the right audience in and ensures the success of the product.She also shares consumer insights about the types of users who are open to using AI tools, such as Gen Z, who are digital natives and more likely to adopt AI in their everyday lives.  The proliferation of AI in 2023 has helped AI companies get in front of their target audience and engage with them. Gen Z is likely to be one of the highest adopters of AI, while millennials and Gen X are more cautious and hesitant. To ensure AI adoption applies to their market, companies must be clear about their personas and target audience, and consider using colors and layouts that appeal to the everyday consumer rather than catering to programmers.

 

SEO and AI

In terms of SEO, search engine optimization, and paid search, Cheryl highlights the importance of being conscious about who they are trying to reach and how to present their brand accordingly. She also discusses the challenges faced by early AI startups in figuring out who they are targeting and how to signal their preferences. She shares their marketing mix, which includes SEO, content marketing, working with influencers, an affiliate program, email marketing, and discord communities. They found that email marketing still works and was a great way for them to pick up new users. They also mention brokers for finding AI email lists that are a good fit for their brand and audience.

The Benefits of a Discord Community

Cheryl talks about the importance of having a dedicated Discord community related to your product to gather information, which is valuable for marketing and product refinement. She explains how Discord can be used, and how she has used it in marketing. She emphasizes the need for authenticity in inserting oneself into conversations and promoting the product. Reddit, she believes, is taking over Google in terms of cost for acquisition, with a cost per click down to $1 compared to Google’s $4-6. Reddit also allows for targeted placement in relevant conversations, making it more cost-effective than Google.

 

Timestamps:

00:03 AI-powered financial wellness product and marketing strategy

04:00 AI marketing strategies for consumer education

07:45 Targeting audiences for AI technology

11:13 Digital marketing strategies for a startup

14:14 Marketing an AI product using Reddit and Discord

 

Links:

Website: https://www.cheryltanconsulting.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylltan

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

 

  1. Cheryl Lim Tan

SPEAKERS

Will Bachman, Cheryl Lim Tan

 

Will Bachman  00:03

Hello, and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman. And this is part of our mini series of short case studies of work that consultants have done related to artificial intelligence. I’m delighted to welcome on the show today. Cheryl Lim Tan, Cheryl, welcome to the show.

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  00:22

Thanks. Well, happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

 

Will Bachman  00:26

So Cheryl, tell us about this client that you served, I understand it’s a, a financial AI advisor sort of tool tells, we’re gonna keep it sanitized the name of the firm, but tell us a little about the firm they served, and then walk us through what you did.

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  00:43

Yeah, happy to go through it. So this is the client I was serving is a financial wellness product that is powered by AI. And they, when I met them, they were pretty early in their journey had some seed funding, and we’re looking to really raise awareness of their product. Right before raising Series A, they had a good product, just needed to refine it a little bit further. And they also needed more users to come on board, use the product, give them more feedback, so that they can continue to make adjustments to the the features. And I think also what you see in a lot of us earlier stage startups is the founders, they’re like brilliant technical entrepreneurs. They’ve never really done marketing before. And so when I met them, they were really looking for someone to stand up the entire marketing function, and really get them before their core core audience. So in this in this scenario, with the client, I was actually starting with the basic like, what is your company? What is your brand? What do you stand for? Why your brand troops? And then who is your target audience? And why does what you do matter to them? What’s your value proposition, which they had some up, I think for them a structured way of articulating all those, you know, key truths about the brand in a, in a framework that they could then use to share internally with their team. And also like as they were going out to investors, putting it all together in a really clear, concise framework was really important for them. So that was the first bit like figuring out brand architecture, identity, and our target audience. And then I think, you know, with with AI, as you’re thinking about who you’re targeting, it’s interesting, because I think in the early phase, it’s often the early adopters, the tech enthusiasts, the geeks, right? Who are coming on board and trying out your product. And then if you want to grow in scale, you got to figure out how to pivot pretty quickly into, especially if it’s a consumer product, you got to figure out how to pivot and make it accessible and approachable for the average consumer to use. So some of the things that we worked through was, you know, who was our core audience in the beginning, but then who do we need to branch out to in like phase two and three? And then how do we reach them? And how do we modify our messaging so that it becomes, you know, approachable for the everyday consumer? And I think with AI too, the other thing to keep in mind that we we worked through was being clear about articulating what’s different about your product versus chat GPT, or some other like free tool that they could use, like why should the user subscribing use your tool, and you know, give you $5 a month, versus just using a free product out there. So you know, being really clear of articulating your value, your unique value prop and why it’s worth paying for. And then also think another element that’s really important is education. So these, a lot of these AI tools are going to be prompt driven. And consumers just, you know, they don’t really know how to interact with the UI, and how to prompt it appropriately. So we spend a lot of time also developing education for the consumers. We have like a whole suite of YouTube videos on like, here’s how they’re prompt the tool to give you such an such situation or information. So, in the AI world, I think if you have consumer product and you’re trying to reach a new, like you’re trying to educate a new consumer, you got to think about consumer education is a really big part of your marketing process, or you’re not going to be able to draw the right audience in. So there was a whole piece that we did around education As part of targeting our audience, I think the other thing that was really key for us was figuring out like what channels our various key target audience was in. We spend a lot of time developing personas like, you know, who is who is our early adopter of Bob, he’s, you know, in his 40s, he graduated from Carnegie Mellon. And he’s like a financial advisor by the law. And then you’ve got like this next wave of like, you know, tech savvy, a little younger, like tech enthusiasts, maybe using this more more for themselves to learn about financial wellness. And then you’ve got like, you know, somebody else who has a different goal for why they’re using your tool. And like being really clear about here are the different personas here. For each of them, the value that you bring is maybe slightly different. And so the messaging you’re giving each of them is going to be different as well. And just being clear about where these personas hang out, how did you learn about your product and what they need to hear? So then we distilled it into a very clear like, framework of for each persona, what, what channels to be used to reach them? What’s the top three messages, you need to know? What are the pain points that you’re fixing for them? And, you know, like, how, what, what can we expect from them in their customer journey going forward? Like how do we retain them? How do we deepen their relationship with the company? So getting really clear about this? Thankfully, marketing to unique personas. I’m just like talking, but this is interrupt me if there’s any like, Well, yeah, okay.

 

Will Bachman  06:58

So what did you discover? There’s a lot of AI tools out there. Now, I think the chat GPT store has something like 3 million shet TPTs, that are customized. So there’s a lot of competition. What did you discover, as you were doing, you know, consumer insights, anything surprising to you about the types of users that were open to using an AI tool, anything surprising, like maybe certain classes of, or groups of users would be normally reluctant to use a human advisor, but they were open to this that, in some ways are what tell us about some of the consumer insights that you came up with?

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  07:44

Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, interestingly, you know, Gen Z, is probably going to be one of the highest adopters of AI going forward in their everyday lives, just because they are digital natives. I think the millennials and Gen X, they’ll, they’ll come along, but they’re not. I think they’re a little more cautious and hesitant about adopting AI in their lives. Also, they currently have things that work for them. And so having to change the behavior takes a little bit more time and more touch points along the way for them to want to be involved. Having said that, though, I think, because the proliferation of AI has been so broad in 2023. It’s really helped, I think, a lot of these AI companies to get in front of their target audience and have permission to engage with them. Like, while we found that I think the younger generations, the more tech savvy ones are more likely to adopt AI. You know, the older ones are still they’re coming along, and it’s a relatively fast pace, I would think for how new technology is. I think to like a lot of companies that are trying to reach these audiences. Like, like how I described being clear about your personas and who you’re targeting. Like, as we were thinking about how to creatively, you know, reach our audience and kind of bring our brand before them. You know, we looked at like a lot of things, even things like the colors that you use, and the layout of like your site or your app. We noticed that a lot of companies were, you know, very techy, like they would have like the like a black background and look like like a pro, like catering to like programmers. Like more like dark mode right in there. The coloring book And, you know, that says something right to the consumer, it’s like, don’t use my app unless you have a master’s degree in, you know, computer science. Versus like some of the more like mainstream apps, they were trying to go after this, like, everyday consumer. The colors were much more approachable felt like a, you know, like an E commerce site like a retail site, felt like it was more catered towards like anyone, any user to use it. Even the UI UX was much more approachable and more friendly. So I think, what we know, this was, you know, a lot of these early AI startups like had, you have to kind of go through this learning curve, or figuring out like, who is who am I trying to reach? And how do I tell them that I am the app that’s appropriate for their demographic. So being really conscious about that is really important. And maybe in some cases, you really do want to only target super tech savvy people as your first adopters. And then you present your brand in such a way to signal that that’s what you want.

 

Will Bachman  11:13

There’s so many, so much competition. Now, what did you learn about you? Regarding SEO, search engine optimization, and paid search? I imagine some of these terms are pretty competitive with AI right now. What were some of the ways that you found around that? Or how did you go about the digital marketing piece?

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  11:35

Yeah, we actually had a pretty broad marketing mix. So SEO is important. It was definitely one of our pillars, and we were spending against it testing different search terms, almost weekly, we would update our list and try to further optimize. At the same time, we were also spending a lot of time on content marketing, and doing a lot more in the organic space. So we basically tested every kind of social media like Instagram, tik, Tok, Twitter or x threads when it launched. YouTube shorts. And, you know, we figured out to like, if there was a chance to leverage content, the same content across multiple channels, we would. We also worked with influencers within many of those spaces, paid influencers. We also have an affiliate program, so you can get your own link and get commissions, if you drive clicks and conversions through your link. We also, you know, had email marketing, which crazy enough in 2024 still works, both our own, you know, list that we built up over time, as well as actually sponsorships and placements and other email lists. There are actually, so many AI, email lists out there. It’s crazy. And actually, we got some really good conversion through several of them.

 

Will Bachman  13:18

And how does that work? Do? Are there like brokers for this where you can find email lists that are newsletters or something, and they will put your ad in there for you? How does that work?

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  13:31

Yeah, there are brokers, we actually went directly to a lot of them so that we didn’t have to, you know, kind of pay the finder’s fee. But also because we were very, we want to be very selective on which ones we worked with, that were a good fit for our brand and audience. So yeah, you can, you can find a lot of these lists, if you just search for them. Funnily enough, like I think once you pay for the first one, brokers will find you and be like, Hey, I saw your ad in this list. Are you interested in these five other ones that have a really good audience? And then you’re like, Sure, tell me more. But yeah, it’s it’s funnily enough, email marketing still works. And it was a great way for us to pick up some new users as well. I have to mention of course, like discord. If you’re an AI and you don’t have a your own discord, Discord community, you’re missing out, because that’s where users talk about different things that are important to them, and they’re in AI. So tell me

 

Will Bachman  14:36

about Tell me about that. So you’d have to have your your own discord community related to your product. Yes.

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  14:42

And it’s a great way to get like customer feedback and also to announce things that you’re launching. Yeah, we actually had like a full time Community Manager in discord every day. So it’s a As both marketing as well as product honestly, kind of sits in that intersection, because that that community is amazing at helping you refine the actual product. And

 

Will Bachman  15:12

did people discover that discord community on their own accord? Or would you try to? Did you take in a lot of effort to drive people there? This, I gotta admit, is actually new to me the idea of a creating your own discord community for your, for your product,

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  15:27

it’s both. I think that this Court algo will actually recommend groups based on your usage and preferences. But also, you know, we went Dr. Site visitors to our Discord community as well. So it’s both ways. And

 

Will Bachman  15:46

is that more of a thing on Discord, then I can imagine there would be probably also some just more general discord groups on health and wellness AI tools where people might talk about any company’s product. Did you find it worthwhile to have someone lurking there and commenting, or?

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  16:06

Yeah, actually, that was one of the things we did. Our community manager was also active in these more general groups. I mean, you have to do it in a way that’s authentic, right? You don’t want to be like, like a salesperson and all these groups. So if there’s a graceful balance, in how you insert yourself into the conversation, and then also, like, at the right moment mentioned, you should check out our product, it’s great. I think there’s a lot of support for AI entrepreneurs in general, in this court. And so generally, when you say like, Hey, we built this, come check it out there. And, you know, it comes from a very authentic place. There’s, there’s appetite for people to be supportive, and click on your link and, and learn more about your company.

 

Will Bachman  17:00

And what about Reddit? Is that still, you know, I

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  17:03

was in it? Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I think Reddit is kind of honestly taking over Google in some, in some respects, I have found it to be much more efficient in terms of cost for acquisition than Google. I know, like, it probably really depends on the product, and who you’re going after. But I think for ai, ai products, right is is actually where you might see better returns, like we were able to get cost per click to be like down to $1. You know, versus I think on Google tends to be like in the financial space, like $4 $6, you know, so when you when you think about the kind of savings you can get, and also that you are likely to get a stronger conversion metrics through Reddit, than Google. Like, that’s kind of a no brainer. I think the beauty about Reddit too, is that you can be super targeted about inserting yourself in a conversation that’s relevant to your product. You can, you know, search, you can specify specific terms, that and threads that you want to be featured in. So that’s probably a new space where not as many people are also bidding for terms or space real estate in the RedHat environment. So if you get in there now, it’s going to be a lot more cost effective than it probably will be years from now.

 

Will Bachman  18:47

Amazing. Well, I could easily spend much more time with you diving into some of the details. But I think our time is up. Cheryl, could you share with us? What’s the best place for people who want to find you online? Perhaps reach out to where would you point them online?

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  19:03

You can go to my website, it’s Sheryl tan consulting.com. You can also find me on linkedin@linkedin.com backslash Cheryl l tan. If you Google Cheryl Lim Daniels will probably find me.

 

Will Bachman  19:18

All right. We will include those links in the show notes. Cheryl, thank you so much for joining today. This was really fascinating view into marketing a new AI product.

 

Cheryl Lim Tan  19:30

Glad to be here. Thanks for the opportunity to share

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