These voice marketing take-aways from Voice22 will improve your marketing.

Voice22 (aka: Voice Summit) has been at the forefront of emerging Voice AI technology since 2017.

As an active member of this Voice AI community since mid-2019, I’ve moved beyond the newbie stage at an accelerated rate. I accomplished this by participating extensively in the global virtual meetings, voice specialties and foci.

During the pandemic, the global voice community was active and productive due to lockdowns around the world. As a result, collectively, we accelerated our learning and work through cooperation.

Since most marketers haven’t yet added voice to their mix, you still have time to join this exciting element that will be at the heart of Web 3.0 and the Metaverse.

To get up to speed with voice marketing, use these 10 Top Voice Marketing Take-Aways from Voice22.

1. Build a strong, open and sharing voice community across geographies and specialities

To appreciate the diversity and depth of knowledge across the voice community some members have actively researched and contributed to this field starting before Apple introduced Siri, Amazon introduced Alexa and Google introduced its Assistant.

Many of the OG worked on IVRs and related technologies in the 1990s and earlier such as Wally Brill (currently at Google). Attending Project Voice 2020 in Chattanooga in January 2020, I met many members of the vibrant community.

When the world shut down due to the pandemic the members of the voice community remained committed to staying connected to each other. Among the key voice forums across diverse voice specialities were:

VoiceLunch Foundation

Michal Stanislawek and Karol Stryja started this community as a weekly Global Meeting on Tuesdays and it expanded across a wide variety of specialities and geographies during the entire week.

Held on Zoom, the meetings had one basic rule: “What’s said in VoiceLunch remains in VoiceLunch.” Recordings and screenshots of presentations were prohibited. The power of these rules created a deep sense of trust among members. As a result, they felt open to ask questions about their work when they would have otherwise remained silent.

In addition, these meetings had an active chat and left time for viewers to ask questions.

Earlier this year VoicLunch Global went on hiatu. Yet the US/Canada Voice Lunch, run by Alan Firstenberg and Michael Novak, continued to go strong on Fridays at 1:00pm NYC time.

Currently, VoiceLunch is in the midst of a relaunch.

VUX World

Led by Kane Simms, VUX World provides a weekly podcast/videocast. When you attend it live, you can ask questions in real time. They broadcast live on LinkedIn and YouTube every Thursday at 6pm GMT VUX World posts the videocasts on their website and YouTube.

VUX World brings together the brightest minds who are pushing the boundaries of voice and conversational AI, and NLP technologies. They share their insights, learnings and guidance to help create the future of AI-driven customer experience.

Voice Den

Canadian Dr. Teri Fisher ran the monthly Voice Den. These meetings attracted the Who’s Who of Voice.

According to Dr. Fisher:

“I realized that VOICE is the next, and most natural, operating system known to us humans, as social animals. We are entering an era when we will be talking with computers and I wanted to help educate the community about the potential of voice. “

In addition to a gamifed show with 3 to 4 guests, the audience posed questions that got voted up. Teri also played with NFTs (Hat tip: Ian Utilie of Attn.Live) and hosted a virtual after party on Spacialweb.net where attendees could move around a bar by the water and talk to each other using their actual voice. It included tailored sonic branding by Audrey Arbeeny’s Audiobrain.

Unfortunately, these events stopped abruptly at the end of 2021.

Actionable Voice Marketing Take-Aways

  • Build a community by consistently showing up on a regular schedule. Choose a regular time to help members to show up.
  • Generously provide value and support for your community without expecting reciprocity.

2. Create Must-Attend Events To Attract The Who’s Who of Voice Marketing

Despite being post-pandemic when people are slowly returning to in-person events, Voice22 attracted people from across the US and Europe.

While many marketing conferences depend on the power of influencer speakers to draw paying attendees, Voice22 attracted the Who’s Who  of Voice from around the world required careful planning and networking expertise.

For Voice22, Pete Erickson tapped the well-connected networking diva, Janice Mandel. If there’s someone in the voice or related emerging fields, Janice will find a way to connect with them and persuade them to work with her.  In addition, Pete had a great team behind the scenes including Jaimey Walking Bear and others to keep speakers and exhibitors in the loop.

To bring the best in a specific field together at an event or conference requires more than giving an expert or influencer a slot on your stage, whether it’s free or paid. Otherwise, they’re gone once they make their presentation and meet with the people on their personal agenda.

By contrast, the Who’s Who show up to spend quality time with and to support each other. They didn’t treat this show as a fly-by appearance.

The proof:

Heidi Culbertson who specializes in voice use by older adults came despite dealing with the destruction of Hurricane Ian at her 2 homes. Talk about dedication!

Among the Who’s Who of Voice were:

Actionable Voice Marketing Take-Aways

  • Get the right people to attend your conference. Beyond personal connections, this often requires the help of a resource who’s well connected and excels at networking.

3. Location, Location, Location

While location translates to place, one of the 4Ps of marketing, it’s surprising how many conference and event organizers overlook this crucial factor.

Certain event locations are expensive and difficult to work with.

As a New Yorker, I know that every event or conference faces high rental prices combined with required union labor to even add an extra plug. Further, attendees pay nosebleed prices for sleeping accommodations, food and transportation to and from the airport.

Voice22 chose to hold its event at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, just outside Washington, DC. It offered a free shuttle to Reagan Airport, one of the airports that serve DC. This made it easy for European and West Coast travelers to get to the conference.

Even better, the hotel was reasonably priced by DC standards. (It was less than New York City, Boston and San Francisco.)

As a result, the conference encouraged people to bring their teams as well as attracting newbies.

Actionable Voice Marketing Take-Aways

  • Consider the location of your next event. Since attendees and their businesses consider the fully loaded price for each attendee.

4. Voice Marketing Moves Past Web 2.0

At my Voice22 talk, “Voice Marketing Made Easy: How To Attract, Nurture and Grow Your Audience”, I not only made the case for including voice marketing in your marketing strategies, but also showed attendees how to accomplish this using my Voice Marketing ABC Method.

Heidi Cohen Speaking About Voice Marketing

To be clear, Voice Marketing is NOT an extension of Content Marketing.

The Seismic Shift in marketing has made the emergence of voice marketing possible. Marketers who embrace Voice Marketing will move towards Web 3.0.

How the ABCs of voice marketing work together

A stands for Audience

These are the prospects, customers, purchase influencers, end-users and local community you want to reach with voice marketing. These people use a variety of voice-enabled devices as shown by NPR/Edison Research 2022.

Do you currently ever use a voice-operated personal assistant?

They view the voice experience across your organization as seamless. This includes your website, web chat, real life sales rep, web conferencing and 800# or IVA (aka: Intelligent Voice Assistant.)

Most importantly, their daily life and habits have changed. As a result, their content consumption habits and patterns have changed. Now you must meet customers and prospects where they are and provide help when, where and how they need it.

Actionable Voice Marketing Take-Away

  • Understand your audience’s current needs and wants and what they expect from you in terms of voice-enable services. This includes when, where and how they use voice devices, not just voice assistants.

B Is For Branding

Extend your brand beyond text and visuals to include sonic elements in a consistent manner across your organization. Your goal is to increase your brand’s memorability and to increase its value to your business’s Balance Sheet. Also add these to your brand guidelines.

Among the sonic branding questions to answer:

  • Who will represent your brand?
  • Will you use synthetic voices?
  • What does your audience expect of your voice brand?
  • How do you extend your marketing persona?
  • How do you think of voice/audio holistically across your business?

To-date the most in-depth sonic branding case study is Mastercard. They viewed their sonic brand as part of a larger initiative to create a more holistic relationship with consumers.

According to Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer:

“We started work on our sonic DNA journey three years ago. It began with a melody, a sonic logo and a transaction sound.”

C Is For Context

Context changes voice from other forms of marketing such as content marketing. It adds a third vector to your business.

“Context makes voice marketing a unique form of marketing setting it on the path to Web 3.0.” – @HeidiCohenClick To Tweet

Context of Voice Marketing

Context defines the where, when and how a user wants and/or needs to use voice. Often, the user’s expectations are set by the device used.

So the question you must answer for your business Is:
“Is your brand available and findable and in a format your audience can use?”

Given the difference between devices and their walled gardens of findability, you need to expand your definition of search and voice search in particular. You must consider the devices and various platforms used based on the user’s context at the time.

Actionable Voice Marketing Take-Away

  • At a minimum make sure to use “Google My Business” to aid findability via Google and its devices.

5. Extend Your Event’s Offering Beyond Presentations

While many conferences and events provide a full schedule of presentations combined with an exhibit hall and at least an opening and closing party, Voice22 went further.

 Conference Within A Conference

They offered a conference within a conference. During Voice22, VUX World’s Kane Simms and his team scheduled a full program tailored to the conversational AI call center.

The VUX World Agenda included a combination of technology and brands to show attendees how brands use these AI-powered voice marketing tools in the call center with strong, measurable results.

VUX Agenda at a Glance

To put the VUX brand front and center, Kane and his team dressed in bright yellow sweatshirts and t-shirts. Additionally, they gave attendees VUX yellow branded swag bags.

VUX Talks Voice Marketing In Call Center at Voice22

VUX Panel at Voice22 with engaged audience. Note: VUX’s Yellow branding!

Of note: No traditional customer service, IVR and web chat companies were present!

 Relevant Training

Before Voice22 kicked off, the team programmed a series of educational offerings. This training got into the details of voice, conversational AI and voice technology.

For example:

  • Smooth Operator: The Not-So-Secret, Yet Overlooked Keys to Conversational Success”
  • “Going Beyond Hello World: Building a Custom Alexa Skill”

By contrast, many conferences charge fees for this type of educational presentation.

Actionable Voice Marketing Take-Away

  • Add education to your conference offering. This brings attendees up-to-speed and gives them another reason to attend.

6. Market Research Required Beyond Proof of Concept

In her talk entitled, “Humanizing Speech Technologies”, Shyamala Prayaga, author of Emotionally Engaged Digital Assistant: Humanizing Design and Technology, spoke about the need for technology to get beyond the need for “Proof of Concept”.

Once you achieve “Proof of Concept”, you still don’t know if you’ll be able to find an audience for your product.

Shyamala Prayaga spotlighting her new book

For example, at Voice22, I spoke with an attendee that created a “Proof of Concept” product that was extremely successful.

Yielded amazing measurable results. Instead of selling or otherwise monetizing the product, they let it go.

Actionable Marketing Take-Away

  • Do potential customer research (aka: marketing) before you finish your Proof of Concept. Having attended many voice presentations, I’m always amazed at how many technologists overlook this key step.To define the audience for a new product, a Fortune 100 company I worked for fielded a $100,000+ market research survey. They didn’t need to finish the market research since the market research firm had trouble finding a reliable test market. Result: Don’t make the product!

7. Major Brands Use Voice Marketing; It Is Not Just Side Project

Pete Erickson and Janice Mandel worked behind the scenes to ensure that a wide range of brands and non-technology companies showed how they put voice into action for different types of businesses.

Conversational AI Producer and Voice AI Community, Davar Ardalan, showed how sound can be part of the iconic National Geographic brand as its photography and cinematography. Fortunately, National Geographic believes that voice and automation must also disseminate knowledge about our planet, oceans, forests and night skies.

To capture the Earth one sound at a time, National Geographic created Soundbank, a pilot audio database gathered by its explorers and photographers on assignment around the world. To-date, Soundbank includes the sound of bats from Colombia, birds and restored rainforests in India, and scenes aboard the expedition that discovered Ernest Shackleton’s long-lost ship Endurance off the coast of Antarctica.

Additionally, National Geographic collaborates with Dolby Atmos and Ott House Audio to create 3D audio episodes. Their goal is to enhance the future of audio storytelling by embracing spatial audio.

National Geographic voice marketing Team

The entire National Geographic Voice Marketing team

Actionable Voice Marketing Take-Away

  • Start with a small voice marketing test to make the case to your management team.

8. Exhibit Hall Draws Attendees Interested In More Than Swag

Exhibit Halls create tension at conferences because:

  • Conference producers view the exhibit hall as a major source of conference revenue;
  • Exhibitors see the exhibit hall as an investment which must yield quality sales leads; and
  • Attendees go through the exhibit hall in search of the best swag.

The key to swag success:
Select items that people want and will use over time so they stay visible in their offices.

At Voice22 the clear swag winner was the latest Amazon Alexa Echo Dot.

Being a coffee snob, OneReach.ai won my vote by bringing their own coffee barista, Spencer. He worked in the lobby of their office building. Beyond brewing an amazing latte, he had a zen quality that calmed visitors waiting on line.

Heidi Cohen and Spencer the Barrista

Heidi Cohen and OneReach.ai’s Barista, Spencer

In addition, OneReach.ai gave visitors to their booth a selection of to-go mugs and long sleeve t-shirts. In addition, the conversational AI specialists swooned over their high quality workbooks for designing conversations. I snagged two for myself.

Marketers take note:
To attract people to the Exhibit Hall After Party, WillowTree’s Emily Banzhaf played classical music on her violin.

Emily Banzhaf plays classical violin at Voice22 Exhibit Hall

Emily Banzhaf plays classical violin at Voice22 Exhibit Hall Party
(Photo by Janice Mandel)

Actionable Marketing Take-Aways

  • Hold a party in the Exhibit Hall to attract attendees. Offer free alcoholic beverages to entice people to attend.
  • Take photos of your exhibit hall booth and visitors. Post them on social media and owned media with the show’s hashtag. Use your booth as a background for your photos and videos. At Voice22, I showed Appen exhibitors how to spotlight their booth.

9. Use Conference To Create Content Marketing

A number of speakers and attendees took advantage of the opportunity to create content marketing for later distribution.

 Live Stream Your Conference

In addition to live attendance, Modev livestreamed and videotaped many conference sessions. This allowed Modev to create a real-time virtual event at the same time as the in-person conference. In addition, they collected footage that can be converted to webinars and other forms of video and voice content.

Actionable Marketing Tip

  • Livestream all conference content for future use. Even if you don’t offer a real time livestream of your conference, either free or paid, create a record of your event with relevant metadata for future use in any format.

 Interview The Who’s Who

Experienced interviewer, Ian Utile, interviewed the Who’s Who of Voice on a stage opposite the Check In center. Ian brought his own team to handle the recording and logistics. All of Ian’s interviews were prescheduled.

Actionable Marketing Take-Away

  • Take advantage of the presence of OG and experts in your field to create quality content. Interviews are a highly sought form of video and voice content since they keep listeners engaged.

 Podcasts Go Live

Notably Alan Firstenberg, formerly of Google and visible by his Google Glasses, and Mark Tucker of the “Two Voice Devs Podcast” held a live session at Voice22. This allowed them to field questions in real time.

Alan Firstenberg and Mark Tucker – Two Voice Devs

Alan Firstenberg and Mark Tucker of Two Voice Devs Podcast
(Photo: Janice Mandel)

Other podcasting voice experts, like Brett Kinsella of Voicebot.ai ,used the opportunity to record future segments of his podcast while at Voice22.

Brett Kinsella interviews Rupal Patel

Brett Kinsella Interviews Rupal Patel of Veritone (Photo by Janice Mandel)

Brett Kinsella's The Voicebot Podcast

Actionable Marketing Take-Away

  • Gather podcast input at conferences for future episodes of your podcast.

 Other Forms of Conference Content

SapientX took videos of visitors to their booth interacting with their avatar, Fern.

SapientX's Fern The Avatar at Voice22

Many attendees took photos of each other to memorialize meeting each other in real life and to share on social media. (Hat tip: Janice Mandel!)

Women of Voice Marketing at Voice22

Actionable Marketing Take-Away

  • Encourage attendees to share their photos via social media to expand your reach. Include your event hashtag.

10. Self-Regulating Industry Organization Takes Center Stage: Open Voice Network

Starting small as a post-Project Voice meeting in a non-conference location, Jon Stine worked to build this non-governmental organization under the Lotus Organization. He has gotten help from people with deep experience in various aspects of voice, conversational AI and technology,

At the helm of the Open Voice Network, Jon has led the group to publish a number of key white papers on voice-centric topics during the pandemic.

At Voice22, the Open Voice Network moved to the main event. They created a 4 hour educational presentation across the breadth of their key pillars. Called “Voice Bootcamp”, it aimed to help attendees get up-to-speed using voice in their businesses in a way that plays well with other businesses and regulatory organizations.

OVoN Bootcamp at Voice22

In addition, the Open Voice Network had a presence in the Exhibit Hall to attract new members and sponsors.

Janice Mandel and Jon Stine at Voice 22

Janice Mandel and Jon Stine at Open Voice Network Booth

10 Voice Marketing Take-Aways from Voice22 Conclusion

For marketers, the biggest and clearest message from Voice22:
Voice marketing has come of age and is the path to Web 3.0.

Don’t think of voice marketing as an extension of your content marketing or other marketing effort or you’ll risk being left behind.

Unlike many other types of marketing that have evolved since the introduction of the Internet, voice marketing has a strong community of technology, conversational AI and others behind them willing to provide support as well as friendship and fun.

Tap into your community to help you add voice marketing to your business. Even better, community is a key element to lay the foundation for your business to evolve towards Web 3.0.

Voice Marketing Friends at Voice22

Heidi Cohen with Voice Community Friends Larry Aronson, Michal Stanislawek, Emily Troutner and Janice Mandel

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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