049 - The Killer Voice App - Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist Alexa - Pt. 2 of 2

Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist, Alexa at Amazon

Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist, Alexa at Amazon

Guest: Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist, Amazon Alexa. We discussed Alexa Flash Briefing and the future of AI and how it will teach us about ourselves. The killer app is the connection. Part 2 of 2. (Listen to Part 1.)

We also answered a top question among marketers: how do you overcome discoverability challenges with early voice to get your Alexa skill found? 

Friendly reminder: please mute your Alexa device before listening.


1:05 Flash Briefing - a consistent way to engage your customers. Beats a silly CEO email no one opens. This is a better company update.

2:00 "I want to engage and connect on a human level”

Cross modalities to drive engagements

2:45 Teri Fisher - Voice First Health Podcast: using SEO to share and promote all his Flash Briefings (Alexa in Canada, the top briefing in Canada). Put all the briefings onto a blog. This is how to harness Flash Briefing across modalities and web as well as helping your SEO

3:20 You offer customers value. You must give. Pippa.io is a good tool to get your briefings embedded into your site with a simple widget which is also search-friendly (thanks for sponsoring our show, Pippa!) Here’s how it looks for the Voice Marketing Flash Briefing:

Get a $25 Amazon Gift Card when you sign up for Pippa to host your podcast or Flash Briefing!

4:00 What do you see coming down the pike as far as interaction within Flash Briefing? How do we move from passive to interactive, if we do at all - in voice experiences?

4:30 Dave: I’m a product person. I love consumer devices. I feel strongly that you want someone to get a new idea or understand how something will work, it must be a physical product. That was Echo. People want devices that work with Alexa. That customer sentiment has evolved - the future will be similar. 

7:50 Alexa Conversations

8:00 The future of voice

8:20 We as humans don't think in terms of TASKS but in terms of scenarios, ideas, and things we want to get done (re:MARS example)

9:35 Burn your current ideas down. AI will help. Existentialism. 

11:00 There is no killer voice app. The killer thing is the relationship and context with AI. Like a long friendship - it’s not any one aspect that makes it meaningful, it’s the entire relationship. 

Connect with Dave Isbitski:


Twitter @thedavedev


048 - Dave Isbitski - Power of Alexa for Marketing - Pt. 1 of 2

Guest: Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist, Amazon Alexa: Introducing the world to the power of Voice

Dave Isbitksi, Chief Evangelist, Alexa - Amazon

Dave Isbitksi, Chief Evangelist, Alexa - Amazon

Dave has helped launch numerous products for over two decades while at both Microsoft and Amazon. He’s made a career out of helping people be successful with technology and have keynoted major conferences around the world.

Dave and Emily talked about why voice is a departure from previous technology (leaving Tap, Type, & Swipe - entering Voice First) and how you can harness Alexa to learn more about your customers. Plus: how you can use voice as the ultimate frictionless up-sell

Plus, hear Dave’s answer to a top question among marketers:

Discoverability challenges: how do you get your Alexa skill found?

Friendly reminder: please mute your Alexa device before listening. :)

Show notes:

2:05 Dave has worked in web and mobile for decades: what is different about voice?


3:40 “Voice cuts across all industries. From finance to CPG…” You’ll see people talking about voice in finance, then doctors and healthcare professionals about what does voice mean for patient care? And you’ll see others ask what does it mean for shopping and pay? Brand ask what it means for them and customer?

3:32 “Every technology I’ve ever talked about has always had training, we had to teach customers how to do this first before they can tell us what they want.” - Dave

4:00 There is no learning curve with voice: it’s natural for everyone to speak

5:54 Inclusivity:

It’s not about how well you can code, it’s about how well you can converse

(Dave mentioned this in his keynote at VOICE Summit 2019)

7:10 The marketer’s bottleneck with IT - this is less a problem with voice (Emily)

7:50 Ruder Finn / PR Week event where Dave made a point about organizational education about voice - how it’s not really new but is easier:

8:30 “There must be a doc somewhere in your organization that can help you with voice” - a group is still responsible for teaching new tech (like with cloud) but getting people up to speed now is much easier

9:40 Alexa can learn easily - these are just restful web services passing JSON across SSL request - which we are already doing on mobile. It calls the same API. The magic is that Alexa is taking normal human language and figuring out which function to call, vs you hitting a button or tapping a screen to trigger that call.

10:25 Alexa stands on the shoulders of all the tech waves that came before

11:00 Let's have a discussion about your customer who engages not in a silo but on phones, tablets, social, and other on-ramps

11:10 Alexa Skills Kit enables you to teach Alexa how to have a conversation about things. “Set up parameters of a conversation our customers have with us.”

11:45 Alexa Voice Service is why you see Alexa in cars, radio services, Windows desktop, and other mobile devices

Voice presents the easiest upsell opportunity ever

Voice presents the easiest upsell opportunity ever

12:30 Upsell- with voice, this is the moment where your customer essentially already has their money out (movie theatre popcorn and Coke analogy). They’re already logged in. Brands can use their own POS like Domino’s does, or Amazon Pay - so it’s just very simple and natural in the moment to get an additional sale

13:00 The real difference with voice is being in the moment. We process sounds differently than other senses - it is in real time

14:00 Carl Jung reference - the subconscious collects 11 million but we can only process about 40 things in our conscious despite thousands of inputs coming into our brains at all times

16:00 Four years ago, Dave said "Get in early now to figure out what people are asking or saying"

16:42 Discoverability: how can marketers get their Alexa skills found?

17:00 When you first launched your brand's mobile app what did you do, just submit it to the App Store or Google Play? No! Let customers know it's there and why it's faster or better.

17:20 Banking app example - when it went mobile customers would choose that bank for its ease of use

17:50 MyFitnessPal Alexa skill - track calories by voice (Dave found out about it through another marketing message on the mobile app)

18:40 Remember that customers are multimodal - silo launches don’t work

19:00 If you already know the top three things your customers do on your mobile app (via analytics), those are your three functionalities to start with in voice

20:00 Reviews - flywheel of customer feedback on Alexa skills for usability studies

Tune in next week for Part 2 to hear Dave and Emily discuss the “killer voice app”. Subscribe now so you don’t miss it!:


Connect with Dave Isbitski:


Twitter @thedavedev


046 - How NLP Improves Your Communication and Marketing - Corina Frankie

NLP skills enhance your communication, performance, and relationships. How can we apply these principles to designing voice applications and marketing?

#Voicefirst terminology note: when we say “NLP skills” in this episode, we are not referring to natural language processing or Alexa skills, unless specified.

Corina and Emily discuss Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in relation to two applications:

  1. From an introspective or self improvement lens, NLP can help you update the operating system of the mind to be more effective in communicating especially in business and sales.

  2. From a marketing and voice technology perspective, a deep dive into language processing is paramount to build effective voice experiences for consumers. As we design more experiences based on voice with assistants like Alexa, Google, Siri, and Bixby, marketers and designers have to harness the power of language more effectively than ever.

Corina Frankie, CEO & Founder of Brand Besties and Certified NLP Coach

Corina Frankie, CEO & Founder of Brand Besties and Certified NLP Coach

Show notes and timestamps:

  • 02:25 “NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is collection of practical techniques, skills, and strategies that lead to excellence.” -Corina

  • NLP helps businesses align their values and organization to build rapport with clients and staff and better understand needs and motivations of their customers

  • 03:45 Effective questions lead someone to the answer they may already have

  • 04:10 Language matters - how we communicate and interact with ourselves and others

  • 04:30 NLP helps us understand how the brain works: how do we process information on the inside that comes to us from outside events or experiences? The internal representations we make about an outside event are not the event itself.

  • 05:00 What does it mean if your boss gives you more work than your coworkers? The internal representation (processing) is not necessarily the reality of the event.

  • 06:00 How do we create the thinking we have? Where are customers, clients, and staff coming from in specific situations?

  • 06:20 How do we get someone to want to buy something?

Corina Frankie is a speaker and coach based in Austin, Texas. She specializes in NLP training.

Corina Frankie is a speaker and coach based in Austin, Texas. She specializes in NLP training.

  • 06:40 Everyone has a pain or need. A business tries to solve it. But everyone sees their pain differently.

  • 07:00 Car buying example: do you see, hear, or learn about the car by grasping it?

  • 07:20 Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic apply to a buying decision - are you applying these across messaging to align with your customer?

  • 08:00 Mismatch of enthusiasm and energy (current model of someone’s world) is jarring and can ruin a sale or negotiation

  • 08:40 We are hardwired to mirror each other - this helps

  • 10:00 With Alexa skills or Google actions and other voice apps brands need a consistent, holistic sonic identity to match the rest of their positioning

  • 11:00 NLP 4-Mat System:

    The basic premise of the 4-Mat system is that we all have different learning styles. Some people are motivated by Why? questions. They want to know why they are listening to this talk. Others by What? questions; they want information…and probably lots of it! The How? people want to get on and do an exercise, get their hands on it and try it. Then there are the What if? people who want to know how this material applies to their life, workplace or environment.

  • 12:10 The Charisma Pattern plays on kinesthetic, visual, and auditory pattern) - with a voice skill, how do you create a feeling or experience with the way you speak?

  • 13:20 Corina demonstrates slowing down and dropping her voice- like the recommendation for the late night FM radio DJ voice from Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss (highly recommend this book! Click here to order on Amazon.)

  • 14:02 People will tell you their primary representational system if you just listen to their language - pay attention to predicates and verbs people use

  • 14:45-16:04 Corina asks clients their vision for an experience she will create with Brand Besties - she listens for their predicates to find out if they are visual or kinesthetic so she can close the sale by speaking their language, e.g. “Picture this…” vs “How does this feel?…”

  • 16:20 Feeling predicates sheet (PDF)


Connect with Corina Frankie:


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045 - Hearables and the Future of Audible Social Media - Dave Kemp

Dave Kemp from Oaktree Products is an expert on hearables, which are smart, wireless in-ear devices such as AirPods. And they’re probably the future of voice, more so than smart speakers.

Dave and Emily talked about ambient computing from Alexa to wearables to the connected car. And interestingly we touched on the dire need for curated content to replace the noisy and overwhelming experience of social media today. Plus, hear how Alexa Flash Briefing might be the first iteration of that improved content experience.

AirPods  are  Apple's  most popular accessory product, with 35 million units sold in 2018 alone.

AirPods are Apple's most popular accessory product, with 35 million units sold in 2018 alone.

Topics and timestamps:

  • Hearables including AirPods and competitor products such as Samsung Galaxy Buds, Pixel Buds, Microsoft Surface headset

  • 5:10 Amazon hearables in late half of 2019 (competitor to AirPods)

  • Apple's new H1 chip in v2 AirPods shows that Apple is dedicated to AirPods for the long term (beyond using the W1 chip from Apple Watch), now AirPods have their own chip architecture just for hearables

  • First application is "Hey Siri" activation (no tapping required)

  • 7:10 Bret Kinsella helped people visualize importance of the smart speaker as training wheels, a conditional device to make people comfortable with the voice assistant, offloading smartphone related tasks to VAs. But hearables are really riding the bike.

  • The near-field voice assistant is key (smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home and Apple HomePod are far field)

  • 9:00 We have to recognize there has been a dramatic behavioral shift since 2016

  • It has becomes socially acceptable to wear in-ear devices all the time

  • 9:20 Form factors are developing: earrings (fashionable hearables) and Bose AR frames with speakers near the ear could be the future

  • 9:40 Hearing aids as a form factor allow for usage that is super discreet - moving away from stigma today and to all-day usage

  • Passively consuming content while synced to digital environment - all day usage is plausible

  • 10:30 Emily's Bluetooth headache - how can we minimize exposure to EMFs from a health standpoint?

  • 11:00 AirPods case could become the receiver vs streaming content from phone to AirPods. Content could be housed in the AirPod case and streamed in a lower bandwidth from the edge vs the cloud.

  • 11:20 Outfitting our bodies with technology - what are the health implications for heavy EMFs (Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation) - hear a quick Flash Briefing about why EMFs are a problem - TBD…

  • 12:25 Flash Briefing and passive consumption of content

  • Flash Briefing is a gem

  • Dave’s Flash Briefing (Future Ear Radio) is his daily blog post on futurear.co then the briefing is a 60 second tease about the blog post (a promotional vehicle to his blog post)

  • Flash Briefing should be the star of the smart speaker - such a powerful use case

  • 14:00 This is the precursor to audio social media, consuming on demand the content you want to consume from your favorite sources (curated feed)

  • Amazon should be featuring Flash Briefing more but now it's relegated to the Settings area of the Alexa app

  • How can we put the Flash Briefing idea on other platforms?

  • 15:15 We are so overwhelmed with social media- what if you could Google Reader / RSS all that content?

  • Ways to better curate your attention and cut out the noise

  • We love Twitter but it requires so much parsing - what does the future hold and how can voicefirst make passive content consumption better?

Get in touch with Dave Kemp:


Thank you to our sponsor, Trinity Audio. I added the Trinity Audio player to my blog on beetlemoment.com and within two weeks I saw a 16% increase in my engagement rate. See how the audio player works here on my blog.

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044 - Paying Voice Talent, Junk Alexa Skills, and Business Integrity - Melanie Scroggins

I spoke with Austin-based professional voice actor Melanie Scroggins, Owner of Melanie Scroggins Voiceover. Melanie found me based on my tweets about junk skills (Alexa skills with no content that are squatting on search terms).

Her story resonated with me because it opens the door to a larger conversation about how we value and pay talent.

For voice actors who are providing the important sonic branding that we in the voice community are effusive about, communities like SpokenLayer are underpaying freelancers to a surprising degree.

And somehow, no one is talking about it.

This hopefully serves as a conversation starter. Let’s openly discuss these things so we can create a better place for everyone, from users and customers to developers, brands, voice actors, and content creators.

We mentioned:
Here is the rate guide for GVAA (Global Voice Academy)

While this is a standard rate sheet a lot of voice actors use to rate out projects, there
actually is no end all be all. It's really up to the individual actor, but
this provides a solid foundation on which to start charging.

Connect with Melanie Scroggins:



043 - Mics and Podcasting - Ben Thompkins, Blue Microphones

Guest: Ben Thompkins, National Sales Manager- Pro Sales, Blue Microphones


  • Ben runs professional sales for Blue in North and South America, has been with Blue ten years

  • He handles B2B business, distribution, and educational sales

  • How does Blue differentiate in the microphone industry?

  • Blue’s unique history (very music focused, podcasting has been recent)

  • Started as a high end microphone company (many of their mics are still $6,000-$10,000)

  • Took premium sound and made it affordable (see their podcasting mics)

  • Blue’s marketing stands out - fun names like Yeti and Snowball <— please use my link if you want to buy a snowball, this helps support the show!

  • 4:34 Story: Snowball was originally called Softball - founder story

  • Softball (Snowball) was built for GarageBand, per Apple’s request- a simple USB mic

  • Founder Skipper turned them down

  • Emily used Snowball on her first podcast (throwback: The Digital Dive Podcast)

  • Hear about podfading (half of podcasts fade after 6 episodes) in Emily’s episode with Phoebe Mroczek

  • 8:10 Emily asks: are people ready for a more passive media experience (e.g. podcasting and voice - audio content) due to social media overload?

  • "Half the picture is sound" - George Lucas on the importance of audio in film

  • High quality audio is paramount for communication and marketing

  • Bad audio on YouTube is worse than bad visuals

  • Blue was acquired by Logitech for $117 million

  • Ben is seeing a trend of XLR mics, not just USB mics (XLR is used at major music recording studios)

  • If you’re paying for an expensive computer and Alienware, it makes sense to upgrade your audio too

  • Video games are part of his market - gamers are buying nicer mics

  • Joe Rogan uses a broadcast mic

  • People are spending more money on higher quality mics

  • Ben is seeing a consumer purchasing trend with XLR mics, not just USB mics (XLR is used at major music recording studios)

  • If you’re paying for an expensive computer and Alienware, it makes sense to upgrade your audio too (gaming)

  • Video games are part of his market - gamers are buying nicer mics and willing to pay

  • Example- Joe Rogan uses a broadcast mic

Ben with Chino Moreno, Deftones singer. “We all had the same music manager for a bit. Alice in Chains and Deftones are still with them but I’m a mic guy now.” - Ben Thompkins

Ben with Chino Moreno, Deftones singer. “We all had the same music manager for a bit. Alice in Chains and Deftones are still with them but I’m a mic guy now.” - Ben Thompkins

042 - Wendi Cooper: How Marketing is Failing the Modern Mature Consumer

Harleys and Jets vs. Bingo and Go Fish

wendi 42 cover beetle podcast cover art template.png

Show notes:

Copy of Wendi Cooper SHOW 500_500 Pandora l.png
  • The 85+ age group is the fastest growing. There are more people 65+ than under age five. This is a huge missed opportunity for brands not talking to the 50+ cohort.

  • 60 million U.S. adults are between age 50-70: lots of spending power

  • Peter Pan syndrome in advertising world

  • Wendi has been in DRTV since 1997 - and it's a lot of selling to women

  • 07:23 We are not data driven only because of the digital age, DR has been data driven since long before there was digital

  • 07:30 It has always been women purchasing on TV and in retail so why aren’t we honing in and speaking to them more?

  • Marketers are not reaching mature consumers effectively mainly because ad agencies skew so young

  • 9:30 Too many marketers assume people watching CNN are on their way to assisted living

  • 9:50 Programmatic - ad fraud - billions wasted per year

  • 9:55 Voice is the future - voice is natural for all age

  • 10:25 What should marketers do to reach the 50-70 group with voice?

  • 10:55 "I've fallen and I can't get up" - famous ad was original voice technology - necklace to send help

  • 11:53 As people become elders they need voice to contact loved ones and order prescriptions

  • 12:10 Bezos - Amazon pharmacy play - smart

  • 12:20 Voice for assisted living - ideas where older people will understand and use the technology

  • 12:50 Voice is even more intuitive than an iPad, but who is the teacher? This matters.

  • 13:15 50-70 year old market who are thriving - Flash Briefings for this group would be great (Wendi will create one)

  • 13:55 How do you market your Flash Briefing? The challenge here is widespread for all ages.

  • 14:50 As soon as you are able to create content you can drive people to a destination (e.g. Wendi put the first URL instead of an 800 number in a commercial)

  • 15:15 A TV commercial to drive awareness of the 60+ Alexa skill would work - Wendi feels this is necessary to bring mass awareness to voice

  • 16:00 Super Bowl ads about Alexa

  • 16:10 "Go get the Alexa skill" is the new download the app or visit the website

Ad agency ageism stats via Ad Age:

  • In 2017, the majority, or 63 percent, of workers in advertising, public relations and related services were under 45 years of age, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • The median age in the category was 39.2—roughly the same as a decade earlier. (By comparison, the median age in accounting, including tax prep, bookkeeping and payroll services, was 45.)

  • Broadly speaking, age bias accounts for nearly a quarter of overall complaints against employers.

Here are some great Alexa skills for seniors from Heidi Culbertson's company Ask Marvee:


Get in touch with Wendi Cooper, C Spot Talk:

wendicooper.com - Speaking of Age


LinkedIn - Wendi Cooper: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendicoopercspottalk/

YouTube: Wendi Cooper: https://www.youtube.com/user/cspotrundirect