The Amazon Echo Dot, the ultimate middle-class stocking filler, has sneaked into the homes of overpaid hipsters in the major cities of the U.K, U.S, and Germany. Now CMOs across the world are questioning whether there is a first-mover advantage to get onto the device and into the homes and hearts of their target audience.
There is an opportunity for brands to create a useful or entertaining skill (on Amazon Echo) or service (Google Home). The CMOs’ goal should be to have their skill/service pass what Google calls the “toothpaste test”—in other words, is it so good that you’d use it twice a day?
This isn’t the first time this has happened.
Any CMO worth his or her salt will remember the app explosion on smartphones. When Apple gave brands the ability to build apps, a torrent of branded apps arrived that did not pass the toothpaste test. In fact, most were probably used once, forgotten about, and soon deleted. There is a similar danger of this happening with skills on the Amazon Echo.
Here are a few steps you should take to avoid this happening for your brand.
1. Define Your Purpose
The first question that CMOs must ask when experimenting with new marketing technology should be: “How can we solve an unmet need for the user?” It’s no different with voice tech.
For example, EDF Energy has a skill that allows you to update your meter reading using your voice. In theory, this solves a problem for the user, but is it actually easier than using an app or the website? CMOs need to make sure that their voice tech solution to their audience’s need is compelling.
2. Understand Voice Tech’s Limitations
If you’re sure you can solve a problem for your customers using voice tech, then your next job is to understand the limits of the technology. The best way to do this is to produce a minimum viable product or, in other words, what’s the least amount of time and money you can spend on a concept to see if it is actually useful to your audience?
In a lighthearted experiment—and as a way to give us a working understanding of the technology—we recently focused on the Google Home to ideate, create, and launch an MVP product in three days.
The unmet need we tried to answer was the age-old problem of people misunderstanding their partner’s wants and desires on Valentine’s Day. Our solution to this gripe was the “Defibberator”—a “service” on the Google Home that translates what your partner is really saying they want on Valentine’s Day.
3. Establish Your Voice Tech Personality
This is crucial. In voice tech, you are designing a conversation—not content.
Your users will be talking to your brand in a similar way they talk to humans, so don’t think about your brand in terms of the device—think about your brand as a person brought to life using the device, as explored here.
Your project team needs to analyse not only the tone of the language used but also the timbre of the voice itself. Although both Echo and Home have default voice settings, your brand will need to decide how other voice content will sound.
The best way to do this is to define a character to represent your brand on voice tech. In the same way you develop personas of your audience, for example name, age, location, hobbies, attitudes, etc.—do the same for your brand’s entity on voice tech. This will make creating the content so much easier.
4. Creating The Content
Finally, after the brand has settled on how it will talk to the consumer, the tone of its language, and what it will sound like, your project team then needs to develop a script for the voice tech that takes all of these areas into account. Marketing on voice tech is more like writing a script than traditional copy, posts, or tweets.
These conversations need to be quick, clear, and concise, providing consumers with the least resistance on the path to the desired action. The longer the interactions between the voice tech and consumer, the more likely it is the consumer is going to get bored and switch off.
Put the user, and not your brand’s ego, at the centre of your plans and be respectful of voice tech’s limitations because it’s early days for this platform. If you decide to head into this space without following these steps, then think back to your favourite branded apps on your smartphone. Oh sorry, I forgot. You can’t.