In 2009, I caved and signed up for a Facebook account. Up until that point I had been proud of myself for resisting the need to jump on the social media bandwagon. But, it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay in the loop with family and friends as Facebook became mainstream. Plus, considering what I do for a living, I thought I had better sign-up for Facebook and Twitter in case clients started asking me to do something on it. Fast-forward 10 years and I’m not sure how we ever stayed in the loop professionally or personally without social media.
Having spent the last decade hunched over our smartphones, what will the next 10 years look like? Technology experts predict we will be doing a lot less texting and swiping and rather a lot more looking up, commanding and listening. Yes, after nearly a decade of not talking to anyone, get ready to get vocal with your brand because voice technology is exploding.
All Ears On Voice Technology
By 2021, it is estimated that there will be more digital voice assistants on earth than there are people, according to research from Ovum. In fact, voice assisted devices are the fastest growing consumer technology. Smartphones took five years to reach 50 percent market penetration, compared to smart speakers that did it in less than two.
Most people use voice assistants to do basic things like play music or ask about the weather, but as the technology evolves, billions of people are longing to have a more personalized and effortless experiences with everyday tasks.
According to World Economic Forum, 52 percent of consumers trust intelligent devices to shop for their food; 43 percent of people are comfortable acting on AI (artificial intelligence) recommendations, and 39 percent of parents trust intelligent devices to monitor their babies. Coming soon, voice tech will help care for you by offering practical and emotional advice in response to your biometric data. For example, a voice assistant in your car may detect that you are stressed in traffic and recommend breathing techniques to calm you. Nearly 40 percent of adults in the United States are unpaid caregivers; virtual assistants could lighten that load. In fact, the industry that has been one of the most receptive to voice technology is health care. Amazon has an entire health care team with Alexa to leverage voice assistants with patients, doctors and pharmacists. Last year, Amazon launched its first HIPPA-compliant medical skills, including checking on prescription delivery status, booking an appointment and getting access to hospital post-discharge instructions.
Why Use Voice Technology?
If voice technology is inevitable, then why should you use it for your brand? More importantly how do you answer the ROI (return on investment) question you will get from people on your team? Let’s go back to 2008 when Apple launched 500 apps in its App Store. The companies that were quick to go to market with an app now dominate. Getting noticed in the App Store now is a lot more difficult because there are more than 2 million apps available.
It was this realization that caused me to stumble into voice technology in 2018. I was contemplating launching a new business to disrupt the book publishing industry, but didn’t want to launch my idea on another app. Instead, I started researching and interviewing tech experts, asking them what they believed would be the next platform. One trusted expert said he was not developing apps anymore, only voice skills and flash briefings. Then he asked me if I had an Alexa, to which I replied, “No, I don’t need that. I don’t have time.” Then I stopped myself. I started having a flashback of when I said something similar about not getting a Facebook account. That day I bought an Alexa, and now I’m not sure how I functioned without a voice assistant.
Are you in that “resisting new technology” mode we tend to default to? The best way to conquer it is to start using some of the top voice assistants like Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), Bixby (Samsung), Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Assistant (Google), to see what they are capable of and how they can make your life more accomplished. This is a good starting point to begin thinking about how your brand can tap into voice technology.
How to Use Voice Technology
The sky’s the limit right now in voice. If you can dream it, you can find someone to build it, however there are three key filters to consider: efficiency, need and personal connectivity. Here are some health flash briefings worth exploring:
Cleveland Clinic Tip of the Day: Why should you drink lemon water? Need a natural cure for insomnia? These are just some of the health tips Cleveland Clinic offers up daily.
Gluten Free News: Health educator Andrea Tucker gives you a daily rundown of all the latest news to help you live gluten-free.
Health Tips by Voice First Health: Dr. Teri Fisher shares practical health tips to help you live a confident, active and fulfilled life.
Deepak Chopra: Need a good intention? The smooth voice of Deepak Chopra will help you come to center before, during or after a busy day.
Have you been thinking about launching a podcast? Don’t do it. There are too many and not enough time to listen to them all. Microcasting through flash briefings is what you should be focused on in 2020. The average time investment is one to three minutes for each flash briefing (compared to 20 minutes with a podcast) and you can consume more information from a variety of sources. The huge opportunity is that you can make a name for yourself now and be uniquely positioned when voice is saturated in our everyday lives.
When I was considering my publishing disrupting business idea, I opted to put the new company launch on the back burner and experiment on myself. “The Pitch with Amy Summers” flash briefing was an attempt to do just that. Through my flash briefing, I have accomplished the same goals as writing a book: I’ve gained credibility in my field; I’ve earned speaking engagements and interviews as a thought leader; I’ve increased my brand awareness internationally; and I’ve even made money. After just one year my experiment not only worked, but “The Pitch with Amy Summers” has become one of Amazon’s most highly ranked flash briefings in the categories of PR, publicity, leadership, communications, business, women and careers. If I can accomplish all this in one year, so can you. So, let’s get started.
Baby Step Into Voice Technology
Voice technology is a huge public relations opportunity that could lead to a massive ROI. Imagine the power of being a voice in someone’s ear every day. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are several ways you can baby step into voice technology:
Option #1: Kickstart the small idea first. Sometimes projects get pushed back because the idea is too big. Don’t try to conquer the voice space all at once. Perhaps your first goal is to just explore how much more audience you could pick up by starting with an informational flash briefing that provides valuable content but doesn’t ask the user to act, interface or purchase anything. If you are selling supplements geared to women, for example, you could create a flash briefing that gives women a tip of the day on how to better manage life through supplementation. Once you have an audience built up and numbers to show, you could go back to management and advocate for more resources to make it interactive and maybe even monetize it. At that point, you will have a dedicated audience that is familiar with your brand’s voice and will likely act upon your requests for action.
Option #2: Commit to a trial period. The idea of producing a flash briefing every day can be overwhelming, and then the next question is, “Do I have to do this forever once I start?” These are hard questions to answer when you don’t even know if the platform is a good fit for your brand, so one way to test it out is to only commit to a trial period. For example, if your company is in the CBD or hemp industry, you could commit to do a daily news flash briefing or skill that answers most frequently asked questions about CBD and hemp products. Tell your audience this flash briefing or skill is available during this ever-changing time for CBD and that the purpose is to provide the latest information. Then at some point in the future if CBD and hemp legislation becomes clearer you could end the flash briefing or disable the skill. If the flash briefing or skill is a success you could redefine your purpose with it, while still informing about best practices so you can keep your audience engaged while directing them to add products to their shopping cart.
Option #3: Go incognito. Another common hurdle for launching on a new platform is getting approval from marketing or compliance teams. If it is new, there are unknowns and that worries people. If you aren’t sure voice technology is for you but you want to test it, you could try with an unbranded prototype. This way there is no association to your brand if the test doesn’t work. However, if it is successful you could always reposition the faux flash briefing or skill into your brand later. For example, if you have a professional line of supplements sold in doctors’ offices, you could create a flash briefing called, “The Doctor Is In” and have various doctors who recommend your products to patients give advice each day on how to use various supplements you sell without revealing the brand name. Not only will this allow you to test out voice to see if it’s right for you, it will be a fantastic public relations program with your doctors. If it fails you can end it at any time and your brand was never connected to it. If it succeeds you can start integrating your brand message into the daily briefings.
Technology has silenced most of us for the past decade, but hear this now: Voice is coming back with force and billions of people are hungry for deeper connections and convenience this technology brings. You do not want to ignore this emerging communications platform, and if you do, your voice will be much harder to hear this year. NIE
Amy Summers launched Pitch Publicity in 2003 in the face of a rapidly changing climate for communication and media relations. She has 20 years of experience working with major clients in the natural products industry to increase visibility and exposure to targeted audiences through national publicity exposure across all mass media outlets, high-level fundraising campaigns and developing key strategic communication strategies. She serves on the board of directors of the University of Florida Alumni Association and the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Public Relations Advisory Council. Pitch Publicity is based in New York, NY. Receive free daily pitch tips from “The Pitch with Amy Summers” flash briefing on Amazon’s Alexa, Google Play, iTunes, Spotify and Podbean: www.PitchPublicityNYC.com/ThePitch. For more information, visit www.pitchpublicitynyc.com.