How To Create An AI “Team” In Your Consulting Business With Christopher Penn: Podcast #314

This post was originally published on this site

AI has become a trend that many businesses delve into. And to keep your business on top, you’ve got to learn how to leverage it to set yourself to success. In this episode, Christopher Penn, the co-founder of TrustInsights, talks about how to create an AI team and grow the business with it. Chris reveals that his business’s revenue goes up while the headcount remains because as the AI space matured, they could do so much more. So, don’t let your consulting business fall right behind others, and start leveraging AI to keep you on track toward success. Tune in to this episode and learn more about Christopher’s take on creating an AI team.

Joining Michael on the show is Christopher Penn who is the Cofounder and Chief Data Scientist at Trust Insights. At Trust Insights, he helps clients solve their marketing analytics and strategy problems using data. Before we get there, you’re going to hear Christopher has grown his Revenue 5X in the last few years. If you’re looking for growth like Christopher and are motivated to elevate your business from 6 to 7 figures, we have something just for you. We’re offering a free Consulting Blueprint that can be your guide to growing to seven figures. To download it free, visit to secure your free copy.

Let me tell you a little bit more about what you’re going to learn in this episode with Christopher who has worked with the likes of Twitter, T-Mobile, McDonald’s, and many more. In this episode, you’re going to learn how to utilize a newsletter to grow your audience and customer base, how to use data to make strategic decisions, how to leverage AI to scale your business without adding to your workload, how to use media and podcasts to help you with SEO and increasing your mailing list, how do you slack to be able to talk directly to your audience, and how to implement AI to grow your consulting firm plus so much more. Here to share with you his insight and story is Christopher Penn.

Christopher Penn, welcome.

Thank you for having me.

Let’s start and have you share what Trust Insights does.

Trust Insights is a management consulting firm. We help companies make more of their data. We help them use their data. We have been doing a lot of analytics, data science, and in the last few years, a ton of artificial intelligence. That’s one of the reasons why the firm got started. The previous firm my cofounder and I was in a PR agency. I’ve been working in AI for about many years. I saw a direction that I wanted to go with my career and the direction my old PR firm was going. I’m like, “Why not go to the same place?” We left and started the company because of that.

Tell me a little more about that. I believe your cofounder, Katie, and you are what you’re referring to. What was it that you saw more specifically that made you feel like you wanted to go in this direction as opposed to continuing down the path of the PR company?

The PR firm was focused as it should have been on public relations, media relations, and stuff like that. The company was a very good company to work for at that time. We saw the opportunity in analytics and data science to make more of the data. All the clients we talked to were like, “We’re spending all this money. We don’t know what we’re getting for our money or we don’t know if this thing worked. We need an attribution model that can handle the complexities of all these different channels.” Katie and I were like, “We can do that, but we can’t do that with the current company.”

Admittedly, a little bit selfishly, in the last three companies I’ve worked at, we did a good job of building up that company’s reputation and providing uniqueness and differentiation. I made other people very rich. They sold their companies and cashed out. One of them got a living on a sailboat all the time. I was like, “I want to do that for me too.”

You decide to go down this path and investing in. You and Katie being in control of the ship or the boat. If we continue with that imagery, how did you go about getting your first few clients?

We came into it with a bit of an unfair advantage. In 2007, I started my personal blog. The company I was working at was like, “We don’t want you blogging about marketing on our company blog as a financial services company,” which is fair. In 2010, I started my email newsletter, which was originally monthly. About a year and a half in, I moved to weekly. I’ve been doing a weekly newsletter for decades now. When Trust Insights started, I had a mailing list of about 60,000 weekly readers.

2018 was when we got through all the rigamarole of getting the separation, the offboarding, and stuff like that. The first thing I did was I send a message to my mailing list saying, “I’m on my own now with this new firm. All the things that you’ve known about for the last eight years that I do, now I can do for you without the restrictions of having through a PR firm and all that stuff.” Immediately, we had clients because we had that huge list to start from.

Offering analytics help was the easy way to help those decision-makers make those decisions very quickly. Click To Tweet

Talk to me about the process of building up that newsletter. A lot of people understand the value of having a newsletter, especially an audience and a sizable audience like you have. Sixty thousand people are wherever it is now. It’s not always just numbers, it’s more value than volume. At the same time, that’s a sizable list. How much time were you spending to write that each week? Take us through a little bit of that experience.

The way the newsletter has evolved over the years or the incarnation is about seven years old. It consists of an opening of some kind, which keeps getting longer and longer. It’s practically a 3,000 to 5,000-word article now. Machine curated content, I built a piece of software years ago now that scans through about 1,500 blogs that I like. It searches through them for different topics and things and distills down the posts into a few categories, SEO, social media marketing, content marketing, public relations, AI, data science, etc. I feature three articles from each of those topics in the newsletter. It has stuff like events.

One of the more popular things is I have some data ingest that goes out and gets data from job boards. There’s a selection of new jobs that I found that would be a good fit for my audience and that goes in the newsletter as well. The goal is to try and provide as much value as possible to the subscriber in the hopes that there’s something in there every week that you can look forward to. Maybe you’re looking for a job. Maybe you’re not, and that’s fine. Here’s some of our content. Here’s a whole bunch of other people’s content, and then here’s my point of view on a specific topic.

About May or June of 2022, the opening letters have pivoted entirely to talking about AI. Once November came around, ChatGPT rolled out to the public. That’s all anyone wanted to hear about. That’s the process for the newsletter. In terms of building that audience, it was built on the back of the early days of social media. I was one of the very first users of Twitter. Their user is 100,000 or something back when Twitter was still functional.

It was such a driver for the audience like LinkedIn and Facebook. Facebook until about 2016 was great. I don’t know. A lot of folks who were younger or professional may not remember that before 2016, Facebook was the place to try and grow your business because it pulled such great numbers for businesses. That built the list. Over time, once you get to about 50,000 subscribers or so, you get momentum. As long as you don’t suck, you get referrals or people referring. Now, that list is at about 250,000 people. It’s about 250,000 who get this weekly newsletter.

I want to back up a little bit for those who want to maybe create their newsletter or maybe they have one, but they want to grow it to levels that you have or even partway to that. It sounds like you’re saying that one of the biggest factors in growing that list was sharing content. It was the content from the newsletter on different social channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever it was.

Nowadays is different because in most of those places, you need to pay to play. On Facebook, you’re probably not going to get much reach just organically. What did you do? If we could fast forward to these days and if somebody wanted to start a newsletter and they might only have a few hundred people on it right now, what would be your advice on how they should go about thinking to grow that newsletter?

Those are two good and different questions. What worked from about 2010 to about 2017 was a social media public, social media focused. Back around 2016 and 2017, you started to see private social media networks cropping up. Slack for example. These days, Discord is easily one of the most powerful places to network, meet people, and have conversations about common topics. For example, all the big tech companies have Discord service.

Now Google opened up a Bard Discord server that has 100,000 people in it. These communities are focused on an interest and around a specific crowd. If you can find them, join them, and start participating in them, you can get a lot of attention on your media properties relatively quickly. If you can’t find a community, that’s a sign that you need to start one because it can very quickly grow to be a reinforcer of your business.

If I was starting from scratch now, I would look at a hosted platform. Something like Ghost or Substack would be my choice because they have a lot of features built into them. Particularly those two, they make running referrals much easier than older systems where you can say, “Refer a friend.” Substack rolled out referral rewards where you as a creator can set up tiers of rewards. It’s like, “Refer 25 people, you get this. Refer 50 people, you get this.” You decide on a free eBook, consult hour of consulting, or whatever. Having those network effects built into your newsletter is the fastest way to grow it, especially because social media now is so different and scattered. I call them the Twitter diaspora. Twitter became X as an exploded then you have Mastodon.

I can tell you have no point of view or perspective on that one.

No feelings whatsoever. You have Mastodon, Bluesky, and Threads. In all these places, we don’t have that common public water cooler anymore. The crowds have scattered to the winds. If you’re getting started now, set up that community.

CSP Christopher Penn | AI Team

That’s what I’m hearing you say, Christopher, to identify where are your ideal clients or where are those potential readers hanging out. Insert yourself into the conversations there and share valuable information. You have to let people know that you have a newsletter in one form or another without coming across as being too salesy or promotional. You do that consistently. People start coming onto the newsletter right after a while. It builds momentum upon itself. What you’re talking about are some of these newer platforms like Substack, Ghost, Beehiiv, or some of these other ones. They have some of these tools built into that help you to generate more referrals to build the newsletter by itself.

Let’s come back. You and Katie start Trust Insights. You leave this PR firm. You send out an email to your list of 60,000 people and business starts to come in. In those first few years of that business coming in, what would you say was one of the biggest challenges that you had to figure out or get through?

In year two of the business, this little thing happened called a Global Pandemic. Talk about sailing into headwinds where everything shut down and business shut down. As a B2B company, what happens with the consumer happens to the business within months. As consumers stop spending or change the spending habits, supply chains change, B2B companies change, and what B2B companies want to buy changes. One of the decisions we made very early on was to refocus our product offerings very quickly on very tactical stuff.

For most of 2020 and early 2021, we were saying, “We’re going to offer stuff that does not demonstrate our full capabilities.” We’re going to offer stuff that Google Analytics audits and helping people get ready for Google Analytics which came out in October of 2020. This stuff is very tactical but it’s easy to get a budget for compared to a strategic audit.

You’re looking for opportunities in the market rather than saying, “This is what we want to be known for.” You were thinking, “We need to survive short-term. Let’s just figure out where can we ensure that revenue is coming in to sustain this business.” You went to what the market was already willing to invest in and you simply offered a solution for those problems.

We went to market with something that we knew people needed, particularly on what we knew from long experiences. Within three months of the pandemic and the first lockdowns, we knew decision-makers and companies were going to be saying, “I need to throttle back spending. What should I cut? What should I keep?” They would ask their teams and their teams were like, “We don’t know.” Offering analytics help was the easy way to help those decision-makers make those decisions very quickly.

As we did that, we used that as a foot in the door, if you will, to say, “By the way, when we were looking at your analytics data, your SEO program is a mess. Your social media program is a mess. There’s no data to support funding it. Here’s what you’re doing wrong.” Analytics for us was a way to see a bigger picture of the business internally, and then help those clients unlock more value inside their businesses.

That’s a great reminder for people that, oftentimes, there might be something that you as the expert want to provide to the marketplace. If people aren’t looking to buy it, it can be very challenging. Especially in the earlier days of your business, find what people want to buy, find what’s easy for them to make a decision around, and simply offer that. As you said, get your foot in the door and expand opportunities from there. If we fast forward now, Christopher, describe the team. How many people and what does the company look like?

We are 3 full-time, 2 part-time, 1 intern, and an army of machines. It’s the way I describe it. It’s interesting because our revenue has gone up 5X in the last couple of years. The number of humans has not because, as the AI space has matured, we’re able to do much more without adding head counts. For example, things like content curation. We built a system for that. Things like reporting and attribution modeling.

We don’t have people going out and downloading CSV files and stuff like that. We have machines that connect to all these data sources and do all the processing for us. Now, with the avid of generative AI in the last few months, our capabilities have dramatically increased, but our headcount has not. When you have a tool like ChatGPT, for example, you have a data scientist and a programmer around staff now if you know how to use them. I had ChatGPT build me a piece of code in Python to replicate a service that was previously hundreds of dollars a month.

I’m like, “We can do that ourselves.” I wrote the instructions, I walked it through the steps, it spits out the Python code, I set up the database, and now I have this service that I can value add to my clients to say, “I can check out your website and all the different marketing technologies and tell you how well it’s implemented.” Using a piece of code that I co-wrote with ChatGPT, I spent $20 a month for the paid version of it plus 20 years of my own programming experience. Now I have this thing where I can offer a customized version of how I think this tool should work to the marketplace.

It’s incredibly powerful. Most people still are only scratching the surface if not at all to understand the potential benefits of it. You being a technology person and a marketing person, you’re able to take the ideas that you have, see things that probably others can’t see, and then put them to work to create that. That’s a great example of finding ways to grow the business, grow revenue, and grow profit without necessarily having to add headcount.

The number one thing people do wrong is not putting tracking codes on things. Click To Tweet

What I would love to know is how you are thinking about growing the business now. You said there are 3 full-time people, 2 part-time, 1 intern, and an army of robots going out there and building this business. For you guys as a company now, how are you thinking about growth? What does growth look like to you? What does it mean to you? Does it add another X amount of money? What does that look like when you think about growth?

Growth is revenue. We are always wanting to increase revenue. We want to increase the margin as well. Can we use the technology to be so much more efficient with our time that we can take on more clients, deliver the same or even better service, and not have to work more hours in the day? The answer to that question is, yes, thanks to generative AI. Thanks to these tools and models. It is not only possible, but it is doable with what you have access to now to be able to do that.

For example, OpenAI just released the GPT-4V model for ChatGPT, which is the vision model. You can give it images now and have it interpret them. If you are a marketer, for example, one of the easiest things you can do is take a screenshot say of your Google Analytics dashboard and say, “ChatGPT, write me my monthly report of what happened this month in my analytics.” It’ll spit out a report of it. You’re like, “That saved me an hour and a half of the time of the manual labor doing that. Now I can use the fifteen minutes of my expertise to improve on what it delivered.”

If you are, for example, an agency that does UI/UX. Take full-page screenshot feature in Chrome. Take a full-page screenshot of your client’s website, put it in ChatGPT, and say, “ChatGPT, give me some UI/UX suggestions for this website to improve the UI/UX and the user experience for this.” It will give you its stock listing. You would tune the prompts and things to the way you think UI/UX should work. Now you’re having it basically as a junior analyst on your team.

With all of these capabilities, when we look at growing our business, we are looking at what we do now and how much of that can we automate without sacrificing quality because it’s important to us. We want to maintain our reputation. As new capabilities emerge in tools and things, how can we take a look at this thing and say, “What could we do with it that’s valuable to a client that they either are doing it very inefficiently now or can’t do it all? How can we offer that to a client?”

The ChatGPT-4V version is for paid only. It’s for people who are paying $20 per month. There are lots of other tools out there similar to ChatGPT. Claude, Bard, CoPilot, or whatever. Are there any that you feel are necessarily better? What’s the latest and greatest?

It is October 9th, 2023 as we’re doing this. If you’re reading this after October 26th, 2023, ignore everything I’m about to say because it’s outdated.

Why October 26th, 2023?

I typically give people about 2.5 to 3 weeks because the news changes that fast. Here’s what is out there right now and it depends on the use case. ChatGPT with the GPT-4 and 4V model is the best model out there for complex language and programming. For long-form data analysis of text clawed is the best tool. It has what’s called a context window. It’s basically a working memory of about 60,000 words whereas GPT-4 has about 20,000. For image recognition, either GPT-4V or Google’s Bard are very good for being able to interpret images and provide some understanding.

For up-to-date, real-time information, Microsoft Bing or Google Bard are the best choices. ChatGPT’s memory still only goes as far as January 2022. A lot has happened since then. For sensitive information of any kind, confidential, PII, or sensitive protected health information, you must use an open-source model like Llama 2 running on your hardware. If you are working with any confidential data, you would download or install a free tool like LM Studio and then one of the Llama 2 family of models that runs on your computer. Even if you turn off the internet or unplug the cabling, that runs and data never leaves your computer, which is important.

You talked about the idea of taking a screenshot of your analytics dashboard, putting that into the latest version of ChatGPT, and then asking some questions about that like, “Write a report of what’s been happening last month.” Is there a way right now to ask questions or to connect, let’s say your Google Analytics account about the last month, where have we gotten the most traffic from, or different questions like that and be able to get accurate up-to-date responses?

The answer is yes with an asterisk. The asterisk is that you have to have some programming capabilities because Google Analytics has an API. You can pull code data out of it. You can then pass that data with code to GPT-4 via the API and get the answers back. There is no off-the-shelf, pull up a web browser, click, connect, and go. That doesn’t exist yet. I am almost certain that the product will exist in less than a year.

CSP Christopher Penn | AI Team

Let’s get back to the building of your business because I want to better understand what Trust Insights is up to. You mentioned the first set of clients came from the email that you sent to your newsletter. How about now? Are you doing any outbound reaching out to people like ideal clients to generate new business?  Is it more inbound or people coming to you? What do your marketing activities look like from a lead generation perspective?

Almost all of our business generation comes from inbound. It comes from three sources, including our email marketing. My newsletter still runs the company newsletter. Those two sources account for probably 60% of our conversions, give or take. We do a lot of public speaking. You caught me at a good time. This is the only week between the beginning of September and Thanksgiving in the US that I’m home. I’m otherwise on the road three days every week now through basically the end of November 2023 speaking at all these different events.

Third, as much as possible, I like to do great shows like this. I’d like to do guest appearances on shows and things as much as I can to talk about whatever anyone wants to talk about. Understandably, for the last few years, it has been all AI all the time. Those combinations of activities create benefits with search. They create benefits to social media. They get people on our mailing list and then we’re able to market to people as needed. I would say of those channels, by far, email marketing is the powerhouse for us.

Right now, Christopher, when you think about the idea of scaling and growing the business, I know that you said that the metric that you’re focused on when you think about growth is revenue growth. You talked about most of your leads being inbound. As a result of speaking appearances, going on shows, and email marketing. Email marketing, essentially, is sending out your newsletters, both your list, which is a very big size list. It’s a quarter of a million people or your company list, which I would guess is significantly smaller, but that is the working horse for you. That is generating the inbound inquiries.

If you think about that as being a fire that is now lit, it’s creating warmth and revenue and all that good stuff. If you want to pour fuel on that fire to scale or double the business or even add 25% or 50%, let’s say, in the next couple of years, what are you thinking about? What are you doing? What is the plan that you guys have to grow and scale the business?

A lot of it comes down to getting more people into our engaged audiences. That means growing our Slack community and go to for marketers. We’ve got 3,500 people in there. I’d love to see it be 7,000 or 10,000. That’s a place where we can talk to our audience directly with no one’s AI in the middle. That is a critical piece of information. When you are on, for example, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google, someone else’s AI is in your way. They are blocking you from being able to talk to your audience directly. Whereas Slack, Discord, text messaging, email marketing, heck even direct mail, it is you and the audience. There’s nothing in between.

The best thing that I can tell any agency owner, any consultant, and any entrepreneur, you’ve got to get as many people into direct relationships with your business as possible and no one’s AI in the middle. For us, if I wanted to dramatically increase everything, it would be twofold. One, I would bring on a team to start pitching to more events like get me on the road 40 weeks a year at bigger events and stuff. That would be one way to scale it very quickly, particularly around the topic of AI right now. This topic is probably got about a two-year runway where people will say, “Come tell us everything because we don’t know what’s going on.”

When you go to a speaking event, what typically happens? Are you going to all these because you know, over the next several months, after giving that talk, good things will happen and people will come your way? Is it that you give a talk, and even at the end of the talk, people come up to you or is it that you see your email list is growing? What is the actual impact of a typical average speaking engagement?

The typical average speaking engagement is 1 to 2 inquiries for private consulting immediately at the event or within 7 days afterward. We typically get between 15% and 50% of whoever is in the room enrolled in one of our mailing lists. We always give away a free eBook. We always give away something along the lines of a free download so that there’s a reason for people to at least enroll with us in some capacity.

That makes a lot of sense. There’s a clear CTA, a Call To Action, with every speaking engagement for something and a free valuable resource that gets people onto your email list. When it comes to the 1 or 2 consulting inquiries, is there any Call To Action that you’re making during your speaking engagements for that or is that the result of people knowing who you now are and they reach out to you by themselves? Anything you’re doing there?

It is implicit. We have one slide at the very end that says, “If you want help with this, here’s how to email us.” A lot of it is, I go through tons of examples. I go through tons of frameworks and things. It gives people, “Here’s the recipe book.” A lot of people say, “Great, thanks for the recipe book.” A subset of people are like, “No, just come over and cook for me.” Those people who realize, “I’m not cooking this meal. You’re cooking this meal and I’m going to pay you a lot of money to do it.”

I know a big thing about what you do for your clients is helping them to measure the effectiveness of their marketing using AI tools, data analytics, and all that stuff. What do you think about that? It’s very true, especially in the world of consulting and when it’s about putting content out there, people have stuff scattered everywhere like social channels, blogs, and emails. Give us a little bit of insight into what are the most common mistakes that people make, or what’s maybe something that is a tangible action that somebody could take to try and identify what’s working best for them.

As a virtual company with no office space, inflation doesn’t impact us tremendously. Click To Tweet

The number one thing people do wrong is not putting tracking codes on things. You have these great free tools like Google Analytics. They only work if you put tracking codes on stuff.

When you say tracking codes, for those that may not be familiar, you’re talking like a UTM code. For those who may not be into this stuff as much, let’s say your and then there’s going to be some parameter in that domain name where it’ll have a UTM code, and that can help you to see whatever you’ve put in there. You can then pull that into your analytics and see this came from LinkedIn, Twitter or X or whatever it’s called, your email newsletter, or even a speaking engagement, if you have a specific call to action. That might redirect and then pull that UTM code. Is that correct?

Exactly. For example, at the most marketing process, we had, which is a URL on our website that has a redirect that expands out to the landing page. You have UTM source, MPB2B, UTM medium speaking, UTM campaign, MPB2B23, or whatever, and so on. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. It’s a legacy of the fact that Google bought Urchin software in 2005 and gave it away as Google Analytics.

Those tracking codes are essential because they’re one of the few things that are relatively durable across systems. Even in the version of Apple’s iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma, a lot of codes are getting cut off now like GCLID, that’s Google Ads ID, the FBCLID, Facebook Ads ID, and the Instagram ID. If you’re running ads and a user of an Apple product has privacy protection turned on, it is cutting off those codes and you’re losing your attribution.

UTM codes are one of the few that are immune to that. You can even take it a step further and put them into short codes like we do so that it’s even harder for a service to rewrite them. Those tracking codes, we tell people now, no exceptions, use them everywhere. Don’t rely on a service to append them. Don’t rely on a social network. Hard code them into any place that is not your website. UTM codes should never be used on your website but put them everywhere else.

Why should they not be used on your website? As an example, let’s say somebody has a contact page where there’s a form and then they have, let’s make this up, ten different pages on their website. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, but wouldn’t it be beneficial to know if somebody came from your services page, let’s say number 1, as opposed to number 2 to the contact page or something like that? Why wouldn’t you want to use them on your actual website?

You never use them on your actual website because, at the conversion, Google Analytics does its attribution based on the last known tracking code. If someone came in from Facebook and went through a page and then went to your contact page to fill out the form and you overwrote that, Google would say, “I didn’t see Facebook in here anywhere.” This page gets the credit and you lose all of your offsite attributions. It’s a disastrous mistake to make. Never use UTM codes on your website because it overwrites your existing tracking data and you need that to do attribution modeling.

How do you get around that? Is there a way to be able to get the first source and the last or what’s the best practice there?

The best practice there is Google does it for you already. Within your Google Analytics data, if you dig around a little, there is essentially a first-touch source medium campaign. All the UTM trackers have. There’s a session source medium tracking campaign for how the user came to the website at that visit. There is a conversion source medium and so on. Google captures all this in its database. If you are one of those folks who has turned on the BigQuery backup inside Google Analytics, you can see all this data. It’s one big table and Google gives every visitor an anonymous ID. It’s a long sequence of numbers.

You can export a user by their ID and see their entire customer journey from the first time you met them through all the sessions to all the email newsletters they’ve read and all the social posts they’ve visited to the moment when they converted. You can sew that data together and say, “Here is this customer’s journey, what pages they went to, when they came, and how they came to you.” That data is now available to you in Google Analytics for free.

I know for some people, this will be way over their head and too technical, but I’m sure there are some of you out there that are going like, “This gold and excited to play around with.” Chris, I’m wondering. You talked before about starting your business when the COVID pandemic hit, what you had to do, and how you responded, which was great advice. One of the factors or I guess outcomes of that has been much higher inflation like everybody around the world has been dealing with or has been impacted by. Are there any changes that you’ve made inside of your business because of higher inflation?

Inflation doesn’t impact us tremendously because we don’t have office space. We’re a virtual company, so there’s no rent to pay and things like that, even the utilities at my house. I have solar panels and stuff on my roof so I barely pay for electricity as it is, the operating costs like the cost of internet access and things. For the most part, inflation mostly affects our clients. Every dollar, they’re paying for extra transportation costs for their products is a dollar. They don’t have to spend on consulting. A big part of what we do also is looking at macroeconomic data and trying to read the tea leaves as to where things are going.

CSP Christopher Penn | AI Team

In the macro picture, inflation is not going to get better, not for a very long time. Part of the reason for that is that climate change is causing so much supply chain disruption across the board and it will keep getting worse over the next years and decades and things like that to the point where it’ll be a very serious obstacle field to negotiate. Even things as simple as food, food are going to be a major issue in the next few years because of supply chains and wars and stuff like that.

What happens to food happens to the rest of the economy. These ripple effects spread up. This consulting firm now can’t charge as much or we have to add value or change our offering to deal with this. Part of what we do is pivot on our offerings. We’re offering a lot more AI stuff because that’s where the market is going right now. We want to be able to do that.

The AI part to me makes complete sense. That’s what the market is very interested in. Of course, you promote that. You mentioned the company is virtual so it’s still a relatively small company. You’re virtual, so you haven’t necessarily had any big impact there from the inflation side. How about your pricing? Have you adjusted your pricing either up or down as a result of what’s been going on, or have you remained the same over the last couple of years?

Again, because we’ve been pivoting very heavily into AI, our pricing has changed. Commodity things like, “We’ll install your Google Analytics, that pricing is relatively constant.” We’ve increased prices somewhat. We charge between $5 and $10 now for a basic audit. For a lot of the AI stuff, particularly a lot of customization, the market is still undecided. It’s a question of, can you figure out what the value is that you provide and then justify it to a client?

It’s like, “It’s going to cost you $750,000 to build this fine-tuned version of this model, but if you deploy it properly, you’ll reap 3% extra call deflection, which will save you $7 million in call center costs.” If you can build some justification for a client to say, “Here’s why we charge this because you’re going to get this on the other end if you do it right.” It makes it easier for people to understand, “I can at least bring it to my boss and say, ‘Here’s what we’re getting for our money.’”

That makes a lot of sense. Christopher, I want to thank you for coming on to share a bit about your journey and how you built up this company so far. I want to make sure that people can learn more about you and the company, take a look at your blog, and maybe join your email newsletter as well. Before we do that, I’d love to hear if there is one book that you have either read or listened to in the last few months that you would recommend. It could be fiction or non-fiction, but it’s something that you enjoy that you think others might enjoy as well.

That’s a very good question because I read a lot of technical documentation and academic papers. I read a whole lot of traditional books anymore, again, because of that. It’s not a book so forgive me, but one of the most interesting shows that I’ve listened to that I’ve gotten tremendous personal benefit from is the Huberman Lab Podcast. It’s a lot of science-based life hacks.

CSP Christopher Penn | AI Team

I listen to that from time to time as well. I will second that. Lots of great insights, good guests, ideas that are backed by science and research, not just somebody’s opinion, when it comes to health and science are super important. Christopher, thank you again so much for coming on. For those who want to learn more and highly encourage them to check out everything that you have going on. Where’s the one place that they should go?

The one place to start is

Christopher, thanks so much again.

Thanks for having me.

There you have it for this episode between Michael and Christopher. If you enjoyed this episode then be sure to hit that subscribe button wherever you tune into your favorite shows. If you want to help support the show, I’d encourage you to share this episode with a friend or colleague. If you want to grab the blueprint directly, head over to to grab your free Consulting Blueprint.

To work directly with the Consulting Success team and receive personalized coaching and support to optimize and grow your consulting business marketing and revenue, you can visit to learn more and apply now. That’s the end of the line for us this week. We’ll be back next week with another episode. Until next time.

Important Links


Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Skip to content