Woman wearing headphones and smiling.
Feature

Our Audio World: Can Your Customers Hear What You're Saying?

6 minute read
Ahmed Bouzid avatar
You need to add yet one more activity track to your marketing mix, and that's audio.

I have some good news and some bad news for my friends in content marketing land.  

First, the bad news: on top of all the many things that you’re already doing — tweeting, posting on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, creating and publishing videos on YouTube and TikTok, blogging and publishing in other forums, taking care of your website, organizing webinars and exploring social audio, I am sorry to inform you that you need to add yet one more activity track to your marketing mix.

Now, the good news. I am happy to alert you to the existence of a new powerful medium that you can now easily add to your existing set of tools and that will help you get your message out and engage your prospects and your customers: It's called audio.

Audio in the Context of Content Marketing

The obvious types of audio that are already being used by a few (very few) intrepid content marketers include, obviously, podcasting, but also serving audio on websites; e.g. now you can not only read, but also listen to blogs and articles. Brands also launch Amazon Echo skills and Google Assistant actions, social audio engagements and publish an interesting new emerging content form, Microcasts and short form audio.

The next obvious question is: Why should a content marketer do this? Why get into audio, especially when they are already doing so much and stretched so thin?

First, let me borrow from that astute marketer from the golden age of advertising, Baseball legend Yogi Berra, who, when asked why he no longer frequented an establishment, answered with, "No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded." This quip, often cited as an example of pure spontaneous Berra, had a bit of lineage in the Anglo-American culture prior to Berra. One of its origins is this quote from 1882 in a London periodical called The Nonconformist and Independent, “'I’m afraid you’ll be late at the party," said an old lady to her stylish granddaughter, who replied, "Oh, you dear grandma, don’t you know that in our fashionable set nobody ever goes to a party till everybody gets there?'"

This in a nutshell captures the behavior of digital and content marketers for the last 20 years or so: They will move “there” only once everyone is there already.  The smart marketers, however, have been well aware of this phenomenon, and the astute among them have leveraged this knowledge to get a head start on the competition. And so, they get to act and look like leaders and innovators, and reap the benefit of such positioning by getting there first, while the stragglers get to enjoy being fashionably late.

Related Article: The Sonic Liberation: Implications of Audio for Digital Marketing

Audio Can Occupy Mindshare

 Second, have you ever had a piece of text that you read, or a video that you watched, get stuck in your head the way say a song or a jingle gets stuck in your head? Me neither. What does that tell us? I think that tells us that thanks to audio, a content marketer, if they know what they are doing, can occupy the mind share of their target with an effective jingle or a catchy sonic logo.

I don't know about you, but whenever I pass by a McDonald's nowadays, I almost always find myself involuntarily humming their “I'm Lovin' It" jingle. When I pass by my local Capital One branch, I hear Samuel L Jackson's voice saying, "What's in your wallet?" Audio is incredibly sticky and those marketers who are aware of this are moving aggressively to leverage this basic insight.

You Can Be a Companion of Your Customers With Audio

Third, unlike other media, audio is the best one at being a soothing companion. People listen to radio, whether music or talk, for information and entertainment, but also for companionship.

Now imagine your brand becoming a companion of your customers? I shop at Giant Food and Whole Foods. Once in a while I eat at Chipotle. I follow the Orioles baseball team, and I drink Lacroix bubbly water. These are some of the elements of my lifeworld. Why doesn't every single one of these brands — and all brands for that matter — publish a podcast geared toward informing, entertaining and pulling customers in closer?  Giant Food does and so do the Orioles, but not the other ones. Why not? As long as the podcast is not one long tacky infomercial, I am more than happy to hear from the brands that I have pulled into my life.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: 6 Podcast Marketing Tips for Better Listener Adoption

Hearing from the Brand's Humans

Fourth, nothing really comes even close to bringing to life a company than the voice of the people who run it. Companies are artificial entities. They have a "brand." They run commercials (which are devices to manipulate people — i.e., acts of deception that no one likes). They publish quarterly numbers. They flash slogans and cheesy trademarked taglines.

But what makes them run are flesh and blood human beings. And humans relate not to companies but to other fellow humans. Why not leverage this basic fact — not to manipulate, but to communicate — and let your customers and prospects hear from the people behind the logos and the color schemes?

Audio Can Be Liberating for Your Customers

And fifth, audio is liberating. With audio, I am not tattered to a device, my eyes are not glued to a screen, my fingers are not called to tap and swipe and pinch a surface.

Audio gives me the opportunity to be a natural human being again. I can consume audio and at the same time walk, pot a flower, eat a hot dog, repair my bicycle, paint the walls, write, read, doze in and out of a nap. Listening to Orioles games on lazy muggy Saturday afternoon and dozing off and on is one of my most favorite things; I have been doing it for almost 30 years.

The Choice Is Yours

The audio party is on, and it's up to you if you want to get there first or to wait until everyone is already there. It's also up to you if you want to take out a long-term lease for some space in the mind of your prospects or clients or if you would rather let that space be occupied by a competitor. 

It's also up to you whether or not you want to become a companion to those who have brought you into their life or whether you'd rather keep your distance. And last, it really is up to you to integrate your presence in the daily life of those who care about your brand, right when they are enjoying life so that they can associate that enjoyment with your brand, instead of encountering you through crass, annoying ads.

The choice is yours.

About the author

Ahmed Bouzid

Dr. Ahmed Bouzid, is CEO of Witlingo, a McLean, Va.-based startup that builds products and solutions that enable brands to engage with their clients and prospects using voice, audio, and conversational AI.