Amazon Alexa skills are open to brands. Here are some content marketing ideas for voice.

A bar cart at a home in Palm Springs
Want to create a content experience for customers at home?

With the rise of voice virtual assistant, Alexa, and hardware Amazon Echo and Dot, you might be wondering what that means for your business. Earlier this year, Amazon opened up building skills to everyone — which means its the perfect time to start experimenting.

First, let’s talk about what storytelling using Amazon Alexa is. It’s not repeating an ad message. It’s serving a function for users as an engaging, modern storytelling strategy.

It’s a prime example of content marketing (which the Content Marketing Institute says produces three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing).

Instead of pushing products to consumers, good storytelling on Alexa develops a trusted, expert voice that develops brand loyalty and converts consumers.

Here’s an example of Alexa Skills storytelling:

Talisker, a scotch brand, is using Amazon’s Alexa to give drinkers a tasting experiencemuch like you might get on a distillery tour and tasting IRL — but this is from the comfort of your home.

The head of tech and innovation said: “Voice is the perfect technology to do just this and provide an enhanced brand experience by putting the consumer, product and brand at the centre of a tasting, in a completely seamless and non-intrusive way.”

How to determine your Alexa skill content strategy: Enhance an experience

While the scotch company might be building digital ambassadors and brand loyalty with their virtual, self-guided tasting, it also smartly considers how it can enhance an experience that’s already happening: People drinking scotch, maybe their product, at home.

Ilker Koksal wrote in Forbes that brands should think about how people are currently engaging with their brand and translate it to voice.

For example: People use Food Network in the kitchen. When their hands are messy, it looks up recipes. Starbucks allows a hands-free ordering service for commuters on the go. “Focus on the experience for similar ideas to translate your brand to voice marketing,” he writes.

Alexa Skills marketing for businesses who sell products and services to consumers:

Some examples that Hubspot mentions in its guide is brand-building efforts by Purina (ask about the best dog breeds for kids) and Tide (whose stain-removal instructions voice storytelling positions them as an expert in removing stains).

Hubspot writes: “Your Alexa Skills plan should complement your company’s existing content strategy and should be a natural extension to the queries your customers are conducting in other formats.”

How to get started with Amazon Alexa Skills

So what does this mean for small to medium local organizations without a fleet of developers? Like with anything, you’ll be investing resources with time or money, but if you have an organizational modern storytelling strategy, you can determine if it’s right for your business by whether or not it fits in as a tool to meet your goals.

If you want to learn more, The Amazon Skills site has resources for marketers, trainings and more.

Decide it’s a yes? These components in a good strategy would help you decide on your Alexa storytelling:

SEO research: What do people look for most in your industry or area?

Website analytics on your site that determine most popular content — and least.

Social media analysis that shows how people engage with your business and brand now.

Audience analysis that looks at your existing customer base.

What customer problems you can solve from the discovery process.

Need help in creating your strategy?

Find more storytelling strategies like this in the Minerva Media Co. newsletter.

How storytelling helps your business

If you’re like me, your passion didn’t come from pursuing a degree in business. It started with a passion for something else — design, a cause, a craft.

That’s why I’m often in the library, poring through the business book section. It’s where I found my latest inspiring read, “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets.”

In a chapter on strategy, it discusses the importance of having a story. It’s important for businesses pursuing investors and businesses hoping to connect with customers.

The authors, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney nail it here:

A quote from "Playing Bigger" by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney.
A quote from “Playing Bigger” by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney (Harper Business)

“Stories alter perspectives and exert influence. … Raw information reaches us on an intellectual level, but stories reach into our hearts and our pants.”

Yep.

The research supports it:

The book cites two studies. One is a Stanford study, “Narrative Stories as Mediators for Serial Learning” showed a link between stories and memory.

A more recent study by a Claremont Graduate University found a connection between strong storytelling and an increase in oxytocin.

“Oxytocin is an empathy chemical, and it motivates cooperation and understanding–quite important when trying to convince someone to, as Apple used to say, think different,” the book says.

So what does that mean for your business?

Content strategy should be a central part of your marketing and advertising efforts. You can hope that your work speaks for itself, but there’s an economy to making your passion sustainable.

And content strategy is another opportunity to authentically talk about why you do what you do, build empathy and loyalty with existing and potential customers.

How to start with content marketing strategy?

Here are a few easy prompts to start thinking about your story:

  • Is there a project that you can show the behind-the-scenes process on? What might make it more human? A note from the project lead, artist or director?
  • What was the genesis of your business or organization? Is there a retelling of that story that expresses vulnerability and authenticity? What emotion does it express? Is there something that you can tie in that’s an action point to leverage that emotion?
  • Was there a time you learned something or felt connection to the community you’re trying to serve? What happened? Write out what that story might look like, with words and visuals.

Without a distribution strategy, your content will live on its own little lonely island.

Think through these questions on what’s right for you: How will you get it in front of your ideal audience? Think about platform-specific storytelling, not “pushing” out the same version connecting Instagram and Facebook. How can you be consistent?

This is just the beginning of a content strategy that leverages storytelling for connection with the people you hope to reach.

Looking for more? Sign up for the Minerva Media Co. newsletter or contact minervamediaco@gmail.com for help on creating your own modern storytelling strategies.