The advertising research firm Capgemini, projects that voice-based shopping will exceed $40 billion by 2022 across the United States. This isn’t a surprise. What is remarkable, however, is the difference between the way consumers conduct a voice search versus a standard text search:
Based on research conducted by AdAge magazine: “70 percent of the keywords used when searching with voice are different from those used with text, and people are 60% less likely to do a brand search using voice.”
In other words, businesses are going to have to completely re-think how they market to voice-search consumers. AdAge further adds, businesses “must be talked about, mentioned proactively, and demanded. This is what it means to be ‘tip of the tongue.'” Ironically this may include a re-consideration of the role and purpose that legacy advertising plays in small business marketing.
A business is more likely to win at voice search when they’re a tip of the tongue recollection. Quickly recalled brands are asked for 30% more than lesser known brands. Not that long ago some people in the industry (myself included) cautioned against the dwindling efficacy of direct mail bundles, billboards, radio, and television. In a voice-search world, however, targeted direct mail pieces remain a fairly low-cost way to make lots of impressions on an ongoing basis (a mail piece shaped like Alexa would be cool). A company that consistently sends well designed mail pieces is at least attempting to proactively put their name in front of as many potential customers as possible. Well designed billboards placed at well-trafficked locations, a catchy radio, Spotify, or Pandora jingle, a sponsored television spot can create impressions that result in tip of the tongue awareness. Ever had a jingle stuck in your head? That’s what I’m talking about.
Brands should work hard to become part of a cultural conversation. Nike accomplished this recently and to tremendous controversy (and huge sales). It made me think of Oscar Wilde opinion: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” On a smaller and more affordable scale businesses should look for ways to embed themselves in their communities. Good will gestures, community involvement, special events, and sponsorships allow for valuable business-to-community-to-culture connections that send the right messages on a repeatable basis. On an even smaller scale, businesses that continue to take advantage of full home service offerings have a myriad of opportunities to stay connected to loyal customers. Small businesses will have to pursue a new mandate: identifying and connecting multiple business-to-consumer interactions, holistic data collection, and a customer-centric CRM. Businesses must learn to become essential to their customers and their communities.
Lastly, businesses can create a tip of the tongue awareness by creating a well planned series of positive impressions during the sales, installation, and service cycles. This is often referred to as the user experience (UX) and is something I’ve written a great deal over the years–that the quality of the experience and the likelihood of a referral go hand in glove. People are hard-wired to pay attention to positive experiences: it’s Positivity Bias. Businesses should consider the small ways in which they can systematically put a genuine smile on a customer’s face. These are intentionally designed touch points that the customers subtly notice and recall later. Voluntary, positive referrals are the result of a design process.
You have to make enough positive impressions that people automatically recall your company and talk about your company as if it were a fixture in their lives.
We’re playing by a different set of rules that are almost completely different than standard text search. Alexa will select your company because your user experience keeps people talking about your business (in a good way) and if you are embedding your business in your customers’ lives rather than conducting business transactionally. You have to become the Band-Aid or Kleenex of home services in your market. That starts by proactively making lots and lots of impressions. Maybe it’s time to re-think a brilliantly designed direct mail schedule or dust off that jingle that you shelved. Perhaps your remaining co-op dollars are best spent overlooking a busy intersection! It’s definitely time to prioritize a fantastic user experience! It feels like everything old is new again as Alexa becomes that friend you always turn to for a recommendation.