Episode 131:

When I think about this episode, it’s all about voice but not just in the way that you might first assume.

Stephen Woessner and I taught a workshop together in January called Creating Content that Creates Revenue. One of the big themes from that workshop was the idea that most agencies really haven’t defined their distinct point of view. I did a whole solocast on that that really does a deep dive on the topic. But it’s really all about finding your agency’s unique voice and weaving that through all of your content, your website, your new business decks, and your agency’s work.

The second way you can see the theme of voice in this podcast is in the idea of using content as the Trojan Horse of sales, as my guest Stephen coined the phrase. When you give your prospective client a voice through your cornerstone content (podcast, book, video series, blog, etc.) by putting the spotlight on them as a guest or subject matter expert, you can leverage that invitation to create a relationship with them that they’d never welcome if you were just trying to sell them something. Giving them exposure and a voice is the door opener that actually gets them to be interested in you and how you work.

I believe this is one of the most effective and least exploited sales techniques in our space and the agencies who master it will be several steps ahead of their competitors. It completely changes the landscape of the relationship you have with prospects.

Finally, we explore the idea of voice from a channel perspective. Voice controlled devices are becoming very mainstream and there are some huge opportunities for agencies in that space. We explore some of the possibilities as we wrap up the episode.

As you can see – this is an episode that is packed with content and thought ticklers. I can’t wait to hear your reaction.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  1. Why success is not only about creating great content but it’s also about creating content that creates revenue for your agency either in the form of sponsorships, new clients, or other opportunities.
  2. How your agency can create your own Trojan Horse of Sales to open doors with your Nano 25 prospects, have a different kind of conversation than what most agencies are having with prospects, and all without your prospect ever feeling like they were a prospect.
  3. How to spotlight the wisdom and insights you collect from your Nano 25 and share that knowledge with your audience – and what happens when you do.
  4. A specific script you can use for a phone call with your Nano 25 to move the business development process forward.
  5. Why it’s important to plant your flag in firm ground using a channel agnostic content strategy.
  6. How monetizing your content extends much further than just attracting new clients sponsorships, speaking engagements, or books.
  7. How “Voice” has become a fast-tracking trend that will be a cultural norm within a year or two.
  8. How strategy and content creation for voice controlled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home represent opportunities for agencies to jump in and help clients make sense of it all.
  9. How to restructure website content pages to make them more voice search friendly.
  10. Why the agencies that understand how to produce content around their point-of-view that then becomes the search result for voice activated search are going to have a huge advantage over competitors.

The Golden Nuggets:

“Having a Trojan Horse of Sales running inside your agency is an ideal way to ensure you will earn an at bat with your top prospects.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “The key to having a successful Trojan Horse of Sales strategy for your agency is setting up a system where you can sit down and interview your top prospects to learn about their business without it feeling like a sales call.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “Instead of asking your prospects for something – give them an opportunity to put a spotlight on their business, and on themselves...that’s the Trojan Horse of Sales hard at work.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “What if you went to one of your clients and said ‘In 18-months, all of the marketing we’re producing for your brand will become self-funded because of the monetization strategy we put into place.’ Could be a game changer for your agency.” -… Click To Tweet “Developing a strategy for voice, experimenting with skills for @AmazonEcho, and creating content optimized for voice search, are some of the ways agencies can help their clients win over the next 24-months.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25-plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. So today, we’re going to talk about content, but we’re going to talk about it from the agency’s perspective, the way that I think you should be thinking about content. And I think some of the additional benefits that come from really creating genuine thought leadership, not generic content that somebody else can put their name on, but content that is uniquely and truly tied to you and your agency and your agency’s point of view.

I talked about point of view and in solocast 125. So if you haven’t listened to that, you might want to go back and take a listen there. But when you are really clear about your point of view, and you’re very clear about who you can help and how you can help them, all of a sudden your content is actually thought leadership. It really is something that is uniquely yours, that is sort of branded who you are and what you’re all about. And it really does attract the prospects that you want to attract.

So I taught a whole workshop on this content that generate, what’s called generating content that generates revenue. And I taught it with Stephen Woessner who owns an agency called Predictive ROI. They do all kinds of content creation for their clients. They’re known for producing podcasts, and in full disclosure, they are the producers of Build a Better Agency. But they also help their clients create all kinds of different content, and then figure out how to build lead generation programs off of that content. And so, Stephen and I taught the workshop together. And one of the key points that we talked about was this idea of how to generate revenue from your content, so I asked him to be on the show so we could talk about that.

But he and his agency are doing some really interesting things around voice as well. And so, I believe that is an emerging trend that we all need to be paying more attention to. And so, I’m going to lead our conversation in that direction as well. So without any further ado, let’s get Stephen on the show and start the conversation. Welcome back to the podcast, Stephen.

Stephen Woessner:

Well, thanks very much for inviting me back. I mean, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with you of course, and certainly with your listeners too.

Drew McLellan:

So as I was saying in the introduction, one of the things I want to talk about today is a little bit of the reason why we did the workshop that we did in January, and the workshop was creating content that creates revenue. And I am of the belief and everybody has heard me preach this probably already that one of the things that differentiates a good agency from a great agency is a great agency has a very strong point of view. I did a solocast on that a few weeks ago, it was solo cast episode 125, if you haven’t listened to it. But not only a great point of view, but a vehicle to distribute that point of view of cornerstone content, thought leadership that is not pablum content, that is not content that everybody else could write, but instead it’s really something that the agency can own and it can really identify who they are and what they’re all about. And so, when you and I taught that workshop together, it really did all start around this idea of what is genuine cornerstone content.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah, exactly. And great solocast, by the way. I know you don’t need me to promo your solocast, but 125 was excellent. In fact, I just re-listened to it again today as I was re-getting ready for today’s interview, and it’s exceptional. What I really love about it is you do such a great job in the beginning of taking us back to out of home, back when many of us started in this industry, to where it is today and in how that channel has needed to progress. So having this point of view planted really deep in firm ground, but recognizing that we can’t be dependent upon one particular channel. We have to be channel agnostic. So to your point, having this deep cornerstone content that we can then slice and dice and we can get a lot of leverage off of a particular piece of cornerstone, but then also recognizing the true thought leadership, you can’t be a one-trick pony, you have to be out across other channels, two, maybe three so you’re not channel agnostic, is critical today, especially how fast the channels are changing.

Drew McLellan:

So for those of you that were not at the workshop with us, what we talked about is that most agencies don’t really do content well. The content we create is generic. Other agencies could put their logo on it, yet another blog post about Pantone picked a new color and it’s purple, woo, as opposed to really taking your point of view and wrapping it around how smart you are in creating content that actually helps your prospects, your audience be better at their job and how do you teach and how do you coach from your content. And so, what we talked about was that every agency owner has a predisposition to either be a great writer or to be a great talker. And if you’re a great writer, then maybe you write a book or maybe you have a blog or maybe you do something else but with written words, and then if you are a natural talker, maybe you speak at conferences or perhaps you have a podcast, but in either case you then have to slice and dice the material so that it is, as Stephen said, across multiple channels.

But the one where I want to get to today in my conversation with Stephen is one of the other things we talked about is it’s not only about how to create content, but it’s how to create content that creates revenue. And so, I believe this is a big shift for agencies. I’ll do a solocast about it in further detail. But the bottom line is I think that there are many ways that you can create revenue streams from genuine thought leadership content. And so, one of the ways, Stephen, that you talked a lot about was the whole idea of, and I know you’ve coined the phrase, the Trojan Horse of Sales. So can you walk the listeners through what that means and maybe give some examples that show both from a writing and a speaking point of view how somebody might leverage that?

Stephen Woessner:

Absolutely. At the onset of defining what the Trojan Horse of Sales is, it’s really important to understand that it is channel agnostic, that sure a popular adaptation of the Trojan Horse of Sales might be hosting a podcast, but it could just as easily be applied if somebody had a rocking awesome blog. And so, it is channel agnostic. The key piece to it though is like you often recommend to agencies, get really, really clear about their nano 25 or those 25 prospects that you want to be on their list. You want to be doing business with them, but for whatever reason, you just haven’t received an at-bat yet. So getting really crystal clear on your nano 25. And then those prospects, they become guests for your show or guest interviewees for your blog.

And in setting up a system to where you can sit down and have a conversation with your nano 25 and learn about their business, it’s biz dev for you, but you’re collecting their insights and wisdom and scaling and all their secrets and all of that information about their path journey and what makes them special about their business, is great content then for the audience that you’re building. They’re grateful to have had that opportunity to share that with your audience. It was business development for you, but they never felt like a prospect. And then, having a system downstream like what you share in the micro-nano level of continuing to share your thought leadership with them after that interview is done so that every time they turn around, they say and they have a question like, “Well, there’s Drew being helpful to me.”

And so then eventually, you loop back to them after you’ve established a relationship and after you’ve had an opportunity to demonstrate your smarts without demonstrating your smarts and then say, “Hey, Drew, thanks again for being a guest on my show, really appreciate your time, and thank you for sharing your expertise. And by the way, during the conversation, you mentioned X and gosh, that got my team and I thinking about Y. You know what, we do Y really, really well here. Is there a day or time next week that you think we could sit down and chat about that?”

And Drew now has had a great interview experience with you for either your blog or your podcast or whatever, and then has experienced your thought leadership, all of that downstream, and has found you to be really helpful and that you’re smart without you having to tell him or her that you’re smart. And then he or she says, “Sure, I’d love to sit down with you and talk with you about that.” And then, that turns into business development. That’s the Trojan horse because your podcast, your blog, whatever opened that door when you wouldn’t have otherwise had an at-bat.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And I think the key to this is thinking about from your prospect’s point of view, they get calls from agencies every day and they dodged those calls every single day, whether it’s email or phone calls or whatever it is. But when you reach out to them because you’re writing a book and you want to interview them for a chapter, or you’ve got a podcast, or you have a video show, or you’re writing blogs and you’re featuring successful people in fill-in-the-blank industry and they happen to be one, all of a sudden, you’re coming to them with a different kind of conversation. Instead of asking them for something, you are offering something. You’re offering them an opportunity to put the spotlight on their business and on themselves professionally. And so, it doesn’t feel at all because it isn’t really. It doesn’t feel like a sales call. It feels like an editorial opportunity.

And so, to Stephen’s point, that opens the door that normally gets slammed in our face. And when you do that and you have a good experience and you actually have a great conversation… And the key to this is you’re not obviously trying to sell them during the interview, you’re not trying to pitch something, but you are just doing your job in terms of collecting content that is beneficial to your listeners, and in this ideal scenario, your guests, who’s also your business prospect, is of the same kind as your listeners so it’s a great conversation. Not only do you get more business intelligence, but this person now feels like they have a little bit of a relationship with you. You have promoted them after the episode goes live, or the blog post goes live, or the book is published, whatever that is. You’re going to be celebrating the people that were featured on the show or in the blog or in the book. So you’re going to be putting the spotlight on them and their business. You’re going to be tweeting about them.

Then, what you start doing is you start sending them things that follow up on the show, maybe it’s a checklist to do something, or it’s a tip sheet, or it’s an ebook you’ve written, whatever it is. But you continue to demonstrate that you understand their world because you started that by the questions that you asked, right, and now, you are demonstrating over and over how smart you are. And sooner or later, either you have the opportunity, as Stephen said, to say, “Hey, you know what, I was thinking about this thing you said, and I think we might have a solution for that. Do you have time to chat?” Or even better, after a while, they get an idea of what you do for other people. They understand who you are, how smart you are because you’re making them smarter, and they pick up the phone or shoot you an email and say, “You know what, we have a project. I want to talk to you about it.” That’s magic when it happens, right? And they never, ever felt like they were being sold. That’s the Trojan horse part of all of this, right?

Stephen Woessner:

Absolutely. And so, there’s the proactive approach like you just described, eventually picking up the phone and calling. But it’s a beautiful thing in whether you and I were, if we’ve taught together or I’ve attended a workshop as one of the participants, I see this happen to you where an agency owner who you haven’t met in person yet will come up to you and say, “You’re exactly the person who I thought you were going to be, Drew. I am so glad that I attended the workshop today. I’ve learned so much from you, but honestly, my experience with you has been months and months and months ago because you’ve been in my ears on the treadmill or walking my dog or whatever.”

And then, when they do meet you in person, I don’t mean to put you on the spot or embarrass you, but it’s a really a magical thing when that happens when somebody comes up to you and says, “Oh my gosh, every time I turn around, you’re being helpful.” Now from an AMI perspective, you’re not selling anything. You’re not selling them, but they have developed this voyeuristic, this relationship with you, and that is a beautiful thing.

Drew McLellan:

Right. That’s the more indirect version of Trojan horse. So my podcast is an example where my guests are not my prospects as a general rule. They’re just people who also serve agencies. They come alongside me in the world that I live in, where I’m trying to serve agencies. But as a result of that, the audience gets to hear both my guests and myself.

So there is the more direct Trojan horse where, as Stephen said, your guest list is peppered, not every guest, but your guest list is peppered with people who you want to do business with. And again, guest list could be chapters of your book, it could be blog posts, interviewees, it could be podcasts. It doesn’t matter what. It could be somebody you’re going to have on your video show, it doesn’t matter, or the channel. But whoever you’re going to feature, whoever you’re going to spotlight is a prospect.

Or you could do the more indirect route, which is more of my podcast as an example, which is I’m not interviewing people that I’m trying to sell or that I even could sell to in most cases, but I am interviewing people that I think are going to be relevant to the people I want to sell to. And so, hopefully, by adding that kind of value and by piping in during an interview, now I’m demonstrating that I understand the agency world and that maybe I can be helpful to you too, right?

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. I love seeing that happen. But here again, and I know this will sound a little bit patronized and I sure don’t mean it to, but the reason why you’re getting those at-bats is because you’ve structured the show the way that you have, but also because you are so focused going back 10 minutes ago on producing cornerstone content that is helpful. You have this deeply planted flag, right, that most agency owners are accidental business owners. And so, you feel this strong sense of purpose of being helpful. So they run better shops and they make more money and serve better clients and all of that. And so then, the podcast is an extension of that so then, why wouldn’t that then be a result outcome when your audience feels this deep connection because you’re being consistent and congruent with the flag that you plant.

Drew McLellan:

Right. So it is the combination, again, of point of view and this cornerstone content. So Stephen, I know that you’ve based a lot of your business model around this whole idea of the Trojan horse and that people make. So your point of view is really around that businesses make selling harder than it has to be, and they are going about it in a backwards way. And that by helping them develop cornerstone content, whatever it is, and I know you support people with podcasts and books and videos and all kinds of other ways that they can create cornerstone content, then you’re helping them in essence implement the Trojan horse, right?

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah, exactly. And in the Trojan horse, the trident of monetization, some of our clients have gone on to get sponsorships of their content. In January, we share a variety of different ways to generate revenue off of content. So essentially, your marketing drives revenue into your core business or an agency, this example, as opposed to being a cost on the P and L. And so, Trojan horse, trident are certainly some of those.

And I think you touched on a really good point here too, is because you just mentioned a number of different channels. And so, here again, can this be done with a podcast? Yes. Can this be done with a blog? Yes. The key is that you’re interviewing your nano 25 and giving those at-bats and leveraging your platform, if you will, to give you that at-bat, but it’s so important to keep in the frame of mind of, “Well, if I don’t want to do audio and I want to do video, okay, that strategy still applies. It stretches across all those channels.”

And really, we need to be channel agnostic, going back to one of your earlier points, because podcasts are hot right now. They’ve been hot for years. Everything seems to indicate that they’re going to continue to be hot. The Edison Research, they team up with NPR on an annual basis, and Jay Baer, our mutual friend, Jay watches this stuff very, very closely too, and everything continues to be pointing a nice, consistent, steady growth. At some point, that’s going to change. And so, you need to have this firm or this flag planted in firm ground, but you have to also be paying attention to what the next channel is or could be.

Drew McLellan:

Right. I mean, I’m sure MySpace thought that they were the cat’s meow at one point in time and for a while, they were, but not anymore. And so, again, podcasting, video may pass, whatever it is, the point is you’ve got to make noise today, to be noticed today. You have got to be creating cornerstone content. You’ve got to be creating genuine thought leadership that cannot be written by every agency out there. Could some other agency write it? Probably, because you know what, we are not as unique as a snowflake or a fingerprint. I’m not saying that. But you know what, if you are in a herd of giraffes, that’s a lot better than being in all of the animals on the Serengeti.

So narrow your focus. This works best when you have either a niche or a point of view that is super strong and very narrow. And then, you can start to identify either who your audience is. And now, you want to speak to them, so that’s the Build a Better Agency model of Trojan horse, or you are going to do something where you’re going to actually invite those folks to be your subject matter experts in whatever channel you choose, and that’s the true Trojan horse model.

And then what Stephen was referencing, and we won’t spend too much time on it today, we’ll do a different podcast on it later, but this trident model, which is how else can you make money through your content. Because again, creating content that creates revenue. And one of the things we talked about in the workshop is this idea of when you build an audience, people want access to your audience. So whether they sponsor your show or your video or whatever, or they publish your book, or they write the foreword for your book, or they allow you to sell your book at a trade show because you as an author or who they want to put on the stage, whatever it is, there are other ways to monetize your thought leadership other than biz dev. I think a lot of people think of content and the only way to make money from it is by attracting clients. And that’s a dandy way by the way to make money, but it is not the only way.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah, there are so many opportunities that are out there today of really getting paid, in true sense of the words, getting paid to actually create the content. The book, Killing Marketing, that you turned me on to, that our friend Joe Pulizzi wrote from Content Marketing Institute and Robert Rose, it’s a fantastic, fantastic book in dissecting all of these great examples. Now, some of them are big brands, but the strategy still applies, Red Bull, and P and G, and Arrow Electronics, of how they’ve been able to do that. It’s phenomenal turning your company into a bonafide media channel.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And then, selling access to those media channels.

Stephen Woessner:

Right.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And you know what, here’s the deal. You’re all spending time creating content anyway, but right now, it’s generic content. It’s not content that serves you. So you’re wasting the time, you’re spending the time, and in my opinion, wasting the time to create yet another Pantone color blog post as opposed to really investing the time in creating something that is going to generate revenue for you in the long run. And that’s really the trick of all of this. And down the road, we’ll talk about how I think, honestly, you learning how to do it for yourself is the precursor to you doing it for your clients, but that’s a different show for a different topic. But I think we have to get good at this because I think the marketplace is going to demand it of us.

Stephen Woessner:

Well, yeah, not only in the agency’s business development, in their new business development, but also how they add value to existing clients and then also how they can teach this and provide this as a service to existing clients, right? And I know that one of the things that you’ve urged my team and myself and others is that 70% of our revenue growth needs to come from gross with existing clients. Well, how can we do that other than just trying to raise their AGI? How can we do that? We need to be able to take them new ideas, innovative things. If we’re in front of clients and saying, “In 18 months, all of the marketing that we’re producing for your brand will then become self-funded because of this reason, this reason, and this reason,” not only is that great value for the client, of course, but you’ve created significant distinction and differentiation for your agency because they’re getting called on by many other agencies, and you are the one agency that came to them with something innovative and is going to put money back into their core business.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Yeah, right. If you can turn marketing into a profit center rather than a drain on revenue, you’re a hero and your client, the CMO, is a hero.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

One of the things that I know that you and your team are playing around with, as we talk about being channel agnostic, is this whole idea of voice and how all of a sudden that’s sort of the hot-new trend. So I want to ask you more about that, but first let’s take a quick break.

I get this, sometimes you just can’t get on a plane and spend a couple days in a live workshop. And so, hopefully, our online courses are a solution to that, lots of video, hours and hours of video, a very dense, detailed participants guide, and all kinds of help along the way to make sure that you get the learning that you need and apply it immediately to your agency. Right now, we’ve got two courses that are available. We have the Agency New Business Blueprint and we have the AE Bootcamp. So feel free to check those out at agencymanagementinstitute.com/ondemandcourses. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

All right, we are back. And we had just changed the topic from creating content that generates revenue and the whole idea of the Trojan horse to I think what a related topic, which is a new channel that is emerging. And Stephen, I know you and your team are really diving deep into this whole idea of voice. So can you tell our audience a little bit about what it is and what you believe it’s evolving to be?

Stephen Woessner:

Well, exciting topic. I think for the last several years, again, with podcasting surge when Apple finally installed the podcast app, it just became the native. I think it was on iPhone 5 or 6. Then, we saw this big surge in downloads and we’re still seeing new adoption and we’re still seeing the growth in audio or, excuse me, podcasting, which is fantastic. Now, we’re seeing additional distribution channels. We’re seeing Spotify getting huge in podcasting, and now they’re about ready to do a billion dollar IPO, which is just staggering to me. We’re seeing other channels like iHeartRadio, and we’re seeing SoundCloud, we’re seeing Task Box, and we’re seeing all of these additional channels and that’s great for podcasts. However, what we’re also now seeing is this really proliferation, I think is probably the right word, where we’re seeing smart speakers and Amazon’s Echo. Alexa got 75% market share. Google’s trying to get their At Home Smart Speaker, trying to get traction there. And Apple’s now rolling out one, Samsung is now rolling out one. But clearly, Amazon owns that as sort of the leader in that space right now.

And so, when we think of voice, we’re thinking certainly of podcasting, we’re also thinking of smart speakers. We’re also thinking of, well in 2020, more than I think it’s about 60% of all searches will be based on voice. And so, Google is now reconfiguring algorithm to accompany that or accommodate that, I should say. About 20% to 40% of all searches today that are mobile are based on voice as opposed to text or keyboard. There are some predictions that by the time we get to 2020, keyboards will be sort of the thing of the past because most computers will be directed by voice. So when we think of this new term of voice, and I don’t know necessarily how new it is, maybe in the last couple of years, it used to maybe be thought of as just podcasting. But now, it’s stretching over things of smart devices, and search, and a lot of other things beyond just podcasting or earbuds.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I mean, just think about how you interact with your car. In most cases, you’re telling your car to do things verbally that you normally would push a button for. And so, the technology, the smart technology is everywhere. It’s in our homes with the Alexas, the Echos, and all the other various and the sundry tools. It’s on our phone because we’re giving commands to our phone through Siri or whatever the Android version of that is, which I choose not to know, and our vehicles, and you can talk to your refrigerator now and it’ll tell you when your milk is expired. So voice is clearly a big part of that. So what do you think an agency’s role in that is going to be? So for example, how would I help a client take advantage of what Alexa can do?

Stephen Woessner:

A couple of things, and first is developing either an Alexa skill or a flash briefing that also runs an Alexa, and then tying that into content strategy. So for example, we’re about to build and launch our first Alexa skill just as an experiment and it will be a flash briefing as opposed to a skill. So a skill would be more of a series of tactical steps or executions or something. A flash briefing is a series of news reports or briefings or fresh content where you can just go to Alexa and say, “Alexa, give me my daily flash briefing or flash briefing,” not daily flash briefing, but flash briefing. And then, Alexa will give you a series of whichever flash briefings that you’ve subscribed to all in a news roll.

Okay, so then the content for that, the content strategy for that might be something. It could be motivational quotes, it could be key insights, something that you’re not sharing in your podcast, obviously audio. And it’s short and it’s fresh and it’s updated every single day. And so, that might be something if you’re a B2B brand or B2C brand, where you can remain even closer to your target audience on a daily basis, right, because you’re part of that daily habit of the flash briefing that.

When we first went down that path, we thought, “Gosh, is that going to be really complex? Is it going to be really complicated programmatically?” And the reality is it isn’t. And so, really, it’s not the programming that ought to be the barrier. Instead, to your earlier point before the break when we were talking about content, that’s where agencies before and still today, in the power of voice, that’s the true value in creating the right strategy, cornerstone content, thought leadership, and how we can use these new platforms to get this content strategy out consistently, and Alexa is just a new tool to get that done.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So let’s say you do your flash briefing and I want to hear it. I have to know that you have a flash briefing out there though, right? So I would have to say, “Alexa, give me the Predictive ROI flash briefing,” right?

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. So you’d say, “Alexa, enable Predictive ROI flash briefing.” And then, she’ll take a second and then come back and say, “Flash briefing, Predictive ROI is enabled.”

Drew McLellan:

And then, how would I hear it?

Stephen Woessner:

So then as soon as that’s enabled, you could then say, “Alexa, give me my flash briefing.” You don’t need to say predictive ROI. You could just say, “Give me my flash briefing,” and then Alexa will play all of the flash briefings that you have subscribed to. And then-

Drew McLellan:

So basically, verbally subscribed to yours. And if I have subscribed to CNNs and NPRs and Agency Management Institutes, whatever, then all of them would ha.

Stephen Woessner:

Yup. And they’re about a minute-long generally. It’s not a monologue. It is literally a flash briefing. It was about 60 seconds or less, and then they just roll. So let’s say that CNNs plays and you’re like, “Skip,” and then she’ll skip it and then NPRs comes up, “Skip it,” and then CNBC comes up, you want to listen to that one so you do. And then, as soon as that one’s done, the AMI comes up and you’re like, “Great,” and so you’re listening to AMI one.

Drew McLellan:

I definitely want to listen to that one, yeah.

Stephen Woessner:

And why wouldn’t you really?

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Stephen Woessner:

Telling content. Right. So anyway, it is really driven by your voice as well, which ones you want to skip, which ones you want to rewind, and so on.

Drew McLellan:

So if you were going to do that though, you would have to create content for every day of the week?

Stephen Woessner:

You would. Yes, you would because theoretically, your audience is probably going to be listening to or catching up maybe on the weekend. And obviously, if they haven’t listened to it during the week, then what they hear on the weekend is going to be new. But yeah, you’re creating… Again, you’re becoming a media channel like, again, we’re talking about before the break. So that does have a burden, right? But think about it from, let’s say it’s 365. You need 365 insightful things, helpful things, whatever about your brand, but that’s going to connect with your audience, whatever, or just helpful to them, research points, whatever it might be. And you go in and sit down in front of Zoom and a microphone, you record 365 of them all at one time.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right.

Stephen Woessner:

Right? Now obviously, your content strategy will determine if that’s realistic or not realistic. Maybe it’s something that’s news-driven or current events-driven, so recording them all at one time is not practical, but it could certainly be done in advance and batches. This is what I’m saying.

Drew McLellan:

Right. And then once it’s done, it’s done. So if I miss Tuesdays, I’m never going to hear Tuesdays, right?

Stephen Woessner:

No.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. And if I want Alexa to… if I say, “Alexa, give me a recipe for chicken Parmesan,” then Alexa will do that. So if I want to be an answer to really a search question, that’s different. That’s an Alexa skill, right?

Stephen Woessner:

Yes. Yup. And so, then what the opportunity there would be to create a skill that has all those recipes or whatever obviously that needs to be relevant for your brand and then tell your audience, “Hey, we’ve just created the AMI skill,” whatever. And then, you would answer all of those questions. Essentially, think of this skill potentially as either a recipe guide or maybe it’s a series of FAQs or maybe it’s, “Hey, Alexa, somebody has a question about overhead, or somebody has a question about payroll, or what should my ratios be,” or something like that. And you’ve recorded all of that FAQ, loaded it up into the Alexa skill, and so then you could essentially be having a dialogue back and forth with an agency owner because you’ve answered all their FAQs in advance.

Drew McLellan:

Interesting. So where else do you think voice is going? I think the in-home applications are fascinating, but I have to think at the end of the day, search is going to be where this really becomes critical.

Stephen Woessner:

I think so, too. And right now, that’s one of Alexa’s limitations because if you ask Alexa to search for something and she will. Isn’t that just funny, right? It’s funny because she will, right? She’s not a person. But anyway, Alexa will pull things out of Wikipedia, but Alexa will not go to Google for probably obvious reasons, and grab something there. So that’s limiting, right?

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Stephen Woessner:

Where Google’s At Home will use Google Assistant and then it doesn’t have the same restrictions. It will use Google and return search results.

Drew McLellan:

That’s what I’m saying is it seems to me that while Alexa is interesting, and I suppose it’s like when apps first came out and you had to develop the iOS app and you had to develop the Android app, so you’re going to eventually have to do it for every one of the major vocal assistants, the Alexas, the Google At Home, the Apple, whatever they are calling their thing now. You’ll have to develop a different skill or whatever each of them call it. But when it comes to search, obviously Google is king. So right now, how would you use voice? How do you use the voice technology to influence Google when you’re talking to Siri or somebody else?

Stephen Woessner:

Okay. So that’s where a new layer, I don’t know if there’s even a word yet we’re calling this, but essentially voice search engine optimization, essentially layered on top of… It doesn’t mean like the best practices we’ve been using for years for search that does no longer apply. This is essentially a layer that goes over top of that. And so, a couple of things that agency owners and agency teammates need to be paying attention to, in my opinion, is making sure that they’re optimizing content with a goal in mind of trying to become the featured snippet in a search result.

And so, we’re starting to see that more and more and more where Google’s outlining a certain thing with definitions, maybe action steps, and that featured snippet, and that is where when we’re doing a voice search, that tends to be, the featured snippet tends to be the first result that is then shared through a voice search. So if we’re using Google Assistant, we’d say, “Hey, Google, blah, blah,” whatever the search term is, the first result that’s served up then on your mobile device is the featured snippet or whatever the content is within the featured snippet. So you want to make sure that you’re gaining that piece of ground if you care about voice search, which you should. And so, that is becoming even more valuable in the search landscape.

Drew McLellan:

So right now, one of the things that I find interesting about voices that really we haven’t been talking about it very much and now all of a sudden, I think with Google and Apple getting into the device game of being in our homes, now clearly it’s not just an Amazon thing. And it’s interesting, Amazon and Google are really going at each other. So Amazon is now taking out a bunch of Google products like Nest. They’re not going to sell them anymore because they just bought Ring, and that of course has a camera. So it’ll be interesting to see much like Apple has not played nice with everybody else. Now, it looks like Amazon and Google are starting to kind of have a little battle on their hands. So it’ll be interesting, from our perspective, how many different languages, for lack of a better word, or systems we have to write all of this stuff for.

Stephen Woessner:

Of course, I’m not a prognosticator or a futurist or trend person or whatever, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Amazon/Bing-type partnership or something. And that probably makes a lot of people cringe, but one of the things that Amazon is missing right now is obviously that big search component. One of the things that Bing and Microsoft are missing is really the distribution of that type of tech, and in their phone didn’t do very well. Google’s obviously, as you mentioned, the dominant search player. Bing is not. Google’s doing exceptionally well with Pixel and that was probably here to stay. So it will be interesting to see how these platforms battle it out. But the featured snippet is the most cherished piece of real estate as we’re looking at optimization practices, especially as it relates to voice.

And then, there’s just different ways to structure the content by thinking of voice in mind. For example, making the content more conversational, because recognizing that the keyword string is much longer tail in a voice search than it is through text or keyboard. So people are talking into that search assistant in a more conversational tone, so therefore your content needs to mimic that back. So there’s a logical pairing between the two context-wise.

And then we’re going to start to see, I think, content that is even deeper from an FAQ perspective. So there’s deep FAQs, and not just one page of FAQs, but deep FAQs on content pages throughout the website as opposed to just a section. And then, I think we’re going to also see content answering a lot of how, what, why questions throughout all of the content. And so, here again, back to your earlier question, how can agency help with that? Again, it’s a content strategy, and agencies obviously do that really, really well. It’s less about the technical side of SEO. It is all about the content strategy in really matching up with the audience.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Well, and I think this is a trend that, I mean, I think it’s just starting to emerge, but it’s something that agencies need to start paying attention to because there’s nothing that would suggest this is going away. I mean, all of the internet of things are starting to be voice-controlled and all of that so if anything, we are on the cusp of a huge new trend. And the agencies that can wrap their head and heart around it soon will have a huge advantage over the other agencies.

Stephen Woessner:

Absolutely. And going back to Spotify for a second, I mean, when we see a company that has, I don’t want to say questionable financials, but I’ve seen just a little bit of analysis and I certainly don’t claim to be a Spotify expert of trying to figure out how they make their money, what they’re paying out licensing, and this and that, and they’ve clearly disrupted that space. Phenomenal. But the fact that they’re not profitable and losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year and about to do a billion dollar IPO because of the speculation on voice is staggering to me.

Drew McLellan:

Right. I mean, just to kind of wrap up this entire conversation, agencies have to have a clear content strategy for themselves. And by the way, if your blog posts and what you write about, what you talk about are the new Pantone color, you’re not going to be a featured snippet because you and everybody else wrote about that. But if you really do write from a unique point of view and you share interesting, valuable content, that in general sets you up to be thought of and positioned as a thought leader in your space which also then allows you to figure out, to look at that content and say, “Okay, as voice is coming down the pike, how do I leverage my unique point of view, my unique thought leadership in a way that I can also take advantage or experiment with this whole emerging new technology, if you will, this new channel which is voice? Whether it’s the in-home, whether it’s in a car, whether it’s through search, how do I set myself up to be a part of that new play?”

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. In recognizing… Because the tech moves so fast when you mentioned IOT and everything else that goes along with it, and every day there seems to be a new buzzword. And so, my recommendation, I guess, to agency owners is to do exactly what you just said from a content perspective, because if we can understand the content and the connection from context to the audience and how to be helpful to them and move them through the decision-making path, the actual channel becomes irrelevant. The distribution channel becomes irrelevant because those change so frequently. But if agencies can really master that and get to that true partnership level, which I know you encourage us to do, that’s where the success is going to be.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, so true. You know what, we could talk about this forever and we’ll have to have you back in six months, and God only knows what voice will be doing by then. But anyway, I want to be mindful of your time and the listeners’ time because nobody’s on a treadmill longer than an hour and hopefully nobody’s commute is longer than an hour. So thank you for all of this. This was a really lively and interesting conversation. I knew that we would meander around. But the thread that I think is tied through this is when you create great content that is really uniquely yours and uniquely helpful, you can make money doing it.

Stephen Woessner:

Well, yes. And thank you very much for the invitation. It’s always a joy and a pleasure to spend time with you. I’m very, very grateful for the invite and look forward to seeing you soon.

Drew McLellan:

Sounds good. All right, gang, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. Hopefully, this got your head to explode just a smidge in terms of what’s possible. And you know what, some of you out there are probably doing it spot-on right, but a lot of you have some room to grow in this area and we probably all have some room to grow. And even if your content has a strong point of view and even if it is unique, tailored to your audience, and super helpful, make sure you’re thinking about don’t get too caught in whatever channel you’re in today because they’re changing. And if you have not been paying attention to voice on behalf of your agency and your clients, I highly suggest that you do that.

So take this content, let it be some food for thought, let it be inspiration for change. And I will be back next week with another guest, hopefully, to create even more thought-provoking ideas for you and your agency as you grow your agency to be exactly what you want it to be. I’ll be back next week. In the meantime, you can always reach me at [email protected] Stephen, if folks want to track you down, what’s the best way for them to find you?

Stephen Woessner:

predictiveroi.com or on LinkedIn. I’m certain they can find me in both places.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, sounds great. Thanks, guys. Come on back next week. If you haven’t subscribed, make sure you do so you don’t miss an episode. Talk to you soon.

Believe it or not, that wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. Man, the time goes by quick. Love sharing this content with you and I love spending the time with you, so thanks so much for listening and sticking all the way to the very end. And for those of you that did stick around to the end, I’ve got a special new twist for you. So many of our podcast guests have books or other things that really expand upon the information and knowledge that they share with us during the podcast. And so, we’ve reached out to them and we’ve asked them if they would like to give away some of their books or whatever classes, whatever it may be, and we’re going to throw some AMI things in there as well. We’re going to have some AMI swag and we’re going to actually give away some workshops. So all you have to do to be in all of the drawings, you only have to do this once, is go to agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcastgiveaway. So again, agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcastgiveaway.

Give us your email address and your mailing address, and every week, you will be eligible for whatever drawing we’re doing. We’re going to change it up every week, so we’re going to have a lot of variety. And we will pop an email to you if you are the lucky winner. You can also go back to that page and see who won last week and what they won, so you can see what you’re in the running for. So if you have any questions about that or anything agency-related, you know you can reach me at [email protected], and I will talk to you next week. Thanks.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency, brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to mid-sized agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.