The AI automation industry is growing fast. With minimum tools and investment, nearly anyone can learn how to start an AI automation agency (AAA) targeting different businesses, industries, and needs.
As of 2023, there’s a lack of competition and predefined strategies, offering innovators a chance to carve their own niche.
What is an AI Automation Agency (AAA)?
An AI automation agency (AAA) is a specialized agency that helps businesses integrate artificial intelligence into their operations to optimize processes, improve efficiency, and deliver innovative solutions. This often includes but is not limited to services like implementing chatbots, designing AI-driven workflows, and offering personalized AI tool recommendations.
Who can start an AI Automation Agency (AAA)? What are the skills required?
You do not need a degree in Computer Science or Computer Engineering to start an AAA. But here are some considerations to if AAA might be right for your interests and skillsets:
- AI Understanding: Grasp the basics of AI and its business applications.
- Creativity: Tailor AI solutions to fit specific client needs.
- Technical Skills: Familiarize with AI tools like make.com, OpenAI’s GPT API, botpress, etc.
- Consulting: Listen to client’s needs and communicate solutions clearly.
- Sales & Marketing: Attract clients, price services, and showcase expertise.
In short, business backgrounds outweigh the importance of deep technical skills when it comes to starting an AAA.
Since AI is still a relatively new industry for consumers and small businesses, you will need a growth mindset to start an AAA business and expect to adapt changes, fast.
Core Components of an AAA
The business revolves around four pillars:
- AI Services (what you sell)
- Getting Clients (how you attract businesses)
- Sales (how you pitch your services)
- Fulfillment (how you deliver the services).
AI Services Overview
Offerings can include automation (e.g., using make.com for no-code automation), conversational chatbots for customer support or internal communication, and suggesting AI tool stacks that can optimize a business.
Three primary strategies are:
- Partnering with other agencies for referrals.
- Demonstrating expertise through content creation, especially on platforms like YouTube.
- Engaging potential clients on social media platforms through “cold commenting”.
Through our experience at Feisworld Media, we have definitely benefited from partnering with other agencies for referrals. Specifically when we first started our YouTube Strategy services, we were discovered by a virtual assistant agency called Outsourcing Angel. The founder Linh Podetti and I developed an effective partnership relationship and worked with nearly a dozen clients to help them start and grow their YouTube channels.
Social media is another source of attracting prospects for your business. As for us, YouTube worked out great since we already made traction on the platform and had over 10,000 subscribers and over 100,000 monthly views. But quickly we learned that a secondary resource of traffic and leads would benefit us a great deal, and for us, it was LinkedIn, given the nature of our services are deeply rooted in business and educational content.
Consistency is the unsung hero over high production quality. To learn more about content creation and repurposing strategies, take a look at Best AI Content Repurposing Tool For Video And Audio: Our 4 Favorites (2023).
Sales through pitching AAA services
Pitching AI automation services effectively requires a blend of understanding the technology, the specific needs of the potential client, and clear communication of the value proposition. Here are some steps to create a compelling pitch for AI automation services:
- Research and Understand the Client: Before you pitch, thoroughly understand the client’s industry, challenges, and goals. Tailoring your pitch to their specific needs and pain points makes it more relevant and compelling. It also helps a great deal if you already have some level of experience, expertise, and interest in that industry.
- Simplify the Complex: Avoid jargon. Break down complex AI concepts into simple terms that the client can easily understand. Use analogies or relatable examples to explain how the technology works.
- Showcase Tangible Benefits: Highlight potential benefits like cost savings, increased efficiency, improved customer experience, or any other metrics that are important to the client.
- Use Case Studies: Present case studies of similar businesses or industries where AI automation has been successful. Real-world examples can demonstrate value and build trust.
- Highlight Competitive Advantage: Emphasize how AI automation can provide a competitive edge, whether it’s through faster response times, personalized customer interactions, or improved data insights.
- Offer a Demo: If feasible, provide a live demo showcasing how the AI solution works. This hands-on approach can make the benefits more tangible and real for the client. This is such an important step! Florin Rotar, the Chief AI Officer at Avanade, taught us at the Microsoft Envision The Tour to “Don’t just tell your clients what AI can do, show them!”
- Address Concerns Proactively: Understand common concerns around AI, such as data privacy, integration challenges, or potential job losses. Address these concerns in your pitch and provide solutions, any limitations your product or service may have upfront with transparency will help develop long-term trust.
- Start Small: Propose a pilot project or a smaller implementation to start. This reduces perceived risk for the client and allows them to see the benefits firsthand before committing to a larger initiative.
- Discuss ROI: Clearly outline the potential return on investment. This can include savings from automating tasks, potential revenue increases from improved customer experiences, or other relevant metrics.
- Build a Relationship: Beyond the technical details and benefits, focus on building a genuine relationship with the client. Understand their long-term goals and demonstrate your commitment to helping them achieve these through AI automation. My mentor Michael Leckie once shared something he learned from a client: “Don’t confuse the demo with the install” – too many service and product companies showed us support and enthusiasm up until the product was installed, and then we found it didn’t actually promise the features we bought into. Don’t make this mistake with your clients.
Pricing and Charging
From watching a few YouTube videos and AAA experts, I learned that the consensus has been “Rather than a fixed price, agencies should base their fees on the value they provide to each unique client”.
This is quite different than digital agencies prior to the AI revolution. And I don’t disagree. Here’s why.
- AI automation is still relatively new to creators, small business owners, and consumers, it’s challenging to pinpoint exactly what you need to build, and requirements can change more rapidly.
- AI, as a broad category, is evolving every day. New tools, extensions, and companies are popping up left and right. As an AAA, you need to stay informed on what’s available and what might work better for you and your clients.
Therefore it’s beneficial in some cases to start with lower prices, gradually increasing as the agency gains more experience and a larger portfolio. For more experienced AI and tech consultants, it may be a good idea to keep pricing flexible and adaptive especially when you start.
Helpful videos to get started with AAA
Here are a number of gurus who actively talk about the process of starting an AAA you might find helpful. In each of the videos below, these creators break down details of how to start an AAA.
Conclusion: Should you start an AI Automation Agency (AAA)?
It can feel intimidating to enter the space of AI automation as an agency expert, while the landscape is changing quickly with or without you.
I hope this shorter list of questions can give a quick snapshot for decision-making. If your answers are “yes” to more than half of these questions, AAA is definitely worth considering. If your answer is “yes” to more than 70-80% of the questions, then it’s worth evaluating what the gaps are for the remaining questions where you answered “no”, and find out if they can be outsourced as possible hires for your AAA.
- Skillset: Familiar with AI and automation?
- Market Demand: Noticed a growing need?
- Competition: Identified gaps others aren’t covering?
- Resources: Access to tools, software, or personnel?
- Business Experience: Comfortable with entrepreneurial challenges?
- Risk Tolerance: Financially prepared for startup uncertainties?
- Passion: Excited about AI’s potential?
- Network: Connections in potential client industries?
- Commitment to Learning: Ready to keep up with AI’s evolution?
- Ethics: Aware of AI’s implications and ready to address them?
Hope you find this helpful! AAA is still a blue ocean field with a lot of excitement as well as uncertainty. Please share your thoughts and comments below so we can explore the future together.
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