Jun 8, 2021
Imagine introducing yourself to potential clients using your own voice on Alexa! In this episode, Anne and guest cohost Jennie Stenhouse talk about how to use an exciting new offering for voice talent to add another dimension to your brand.
Listen to learn about Voiceweave and using it to expand your reach and take your business to the next level ― the BOSS level!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
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Direct links to things we brought up ++
It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my very special guest co-host, all the way from from New Zealand, Miss Jennie Stenhouse. Hey Jennie, how are you?
Jennie: I’m good, thanks. How’re you doing?
Anne: Well, I am really excited, because we have been working pretty hard, I think. Well, I know I was recording quite a bit, working on a new project with you with my own voice website. I thought it would be a great time to introduce this voice website to the BOSS listeners out there. So can you tell us a little bit about this, Jennie?
Jennie: Absolutely. So Voiceweave offers this system where voiceover artists can create voice sites for Amazon Alexa quite easily. And that means people and talk and interact and hear about you in your voice. It’s a super engaging way to speak with potential customers and also like enlarge your marketing reach on a new and exciting platform. There’s over 100 million devices, Alexa devices worldwide, so it’s quite a good place to position yourself, especially when voice is becoming super common and expected.
Anne: Oh yeah. Well, it makes a lot of sense, because this is what we sell. We sell our voice to, to other business owners. So wouldn’t it be great to present our voices with our voice? [laughs] I think it would be a great way to work in conjunction with a website, you know, a static website that we have, which builds the SEO, as well as having a form of the website available on Alexa. Is it available on other platforms as well?
Jennie: So right now it’s only available on Alexa, but we’re definitely looking at enlarging our reach to Google Assistant and Samsung’s assistant, which is Bixby. Yeah. It, it like all things in like our current ecosystem, marketing has to be so multichannel.
Anne: Oh yeah.
Jennie: But this is just a really interesting channel to position yourself on, especially when not all of your competition might be.
Anne: So I’m thinking, how do I even get to a voice website on Alexa? I assume there’s some sort of a command to get there?
Jennie: So Alexa offers this thing quick link. So you can quickly add this link to your website. And people can click on that and get taken to the skill, which they then enable, or you can ask your device directly. Or you can search for it via the skills store. So I already have it enabled, so it makes it super — it’s super easy to start it up. All I just say is, “Alexa, begin Anne Ganguzza Voiceover.”
Recorded Anne: Good morning.
Jennie: And there’s Anne.
Anne: Oh wow!
Recorded Anne: Welcome to my voice site. I’ve got so much to tell you. Let’s get started. I can tell you about —
Jennie: Alexa, stop.
Recorded Anne: Thanks for listening. Enjoy your morning.
Anne: Thanks. Such a pleasant voice. [laughs]
Jennie: It’s delightful, yeah.
Anne: [laughs] So then essentially this is a skill that people have to enable? Because I know I’ve enabled skills on my Alexa, and it’s kind of a process where you have to — first of all, I don’t know, I guess I just haven’t enabled a lot of skills on Alexa. And most of the skills that I enabled maybe a year or so ago, none of them seem to work very well.
Anne: I don’t know if that’s just a — is that just a, is that technology that is getting better as time goes on, or is it a developer thing, or?
Jennie: It’s definitely a bit of everything, so yeah. The recognition, and so the general speech recognition and the backend of Alexa has just come miles from when it was, like even a year ago. Like it’s a whole different thing in terms of responsiveness, and just what you can access. But it is also a developer thing. So anyone, literally anyone can develop a skill for Alexa. They have, you have to put it through a certification, but those certification things, you know, they’re checking for things like general functionality, and basically there’s, I would like to say, a reasonably low threshold to getting a skill approved, but they can be very picky on other things. So yeah, that’s why your experience with third-party skills can vary greatly. I would like to say that Voiceweave, we worked really hard to ensure the skill interaction and the model and the coding and like you, when you start the skill, you see that it’s got beautiful visuals if you’re using it on an Echo device. We want to provide a super high-quality experience for users because it makes such a huge difference. And one thing that I find particularly delightful about the voiceover skills is just how compelling it is to listen to a voiceover artist versus Alexa’s synthetic voice.
Anne: Oh yes. [laughs]
Jennie: It’s such a rich experience, and the ability to hear about someone’s skills and expertise, and like even their equipment, or past work, or listen to their —
Jennie: — promo tracks — yeah, demos — it makes a huge difference when they’re introduced by you [laughs] versus like clicking a button or hearing it in Alexa’s voice. There’s just, the level of engagement is just incomparable.
Anne: Well, I think it’s really, really interesting, because — well, I’ll you, the prompts that I recorded, I had a lot of prompts. And so there’s a lot of options. That’s one of the things that I was so impressed with. So not only can people find out more about me, they can find out about my studio, they can find out about my equipment, they can find out — listen to my demos. And I can put, you know, I have like four or five demos up there, so it’s really kind of cool. Oh and the other thing, people can request more information, and then it can send an email, a contact email directly to me. I love all that. I think it’s super functional, and I think that also, the fact that we need to advertise in different mediums. You know? You had mentioned before, it really can help us and help our businesses if we can advertise not only on the web but also on the, on voice-enabled devices. So if I were to want to have a voice website, what would I have to do to set that up? I think, what sort of a process is it? Is it a long — does it take a long time? How does it, how does it work for a normal voice talent?
Jennie: So there’s a, quite a straightforward process, but it does take a reasonable amount of time because like you say, there’s quite a few prompts to answer. And that’s mainly because when someone interacts with voice, they don’t always follow a linear like thing. They’re not always gonna follow the same paths. Someone might jump from one question to another to another. Or they may ask a question that could be asked in multiple different ways. And one thing that we’re trying to encourage in Voiceweave is for people to keep on asking questions to the voice talent. Because obviously the more they hear your voice, the better in your situation.
Anne: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Jennie: You want people to feel really connected to you. And I think that the process is, you sign up via the website, which is voiceweave.com. You get connected with this really cool interface which makes the list of prompts available, and then the upload process is really easy. So you record a prompt. The prompts are really clear, and then you upload it through this interface. And then what happens is it gets loaded into our backend. Our magical coding owls do their magic, and then —
Jennie: — you — we go through a testing process, because obviously like I mentioned before, the end-quality of the skill is really important to us. We’re not just an automated process. Real people listen to how the skill works, and we want to ensure that it’s a high quality product. Because obviously it’s important for you, for the representation of your voice and brand. Then that happens. It goes through certification with Alexa, which is the only section of the process which we have little control over. So it gets sent away to them. They review it and make sure that it passes their thresholds and meets their guidelines. They send it on back and say, “yeah, it’s live,” and then you can share the quick links and globally. So this isn’t just, if you do it, it’s available in the states. You’ve suddenly reached Australia, Canada, Britain, English in India, and the US.
Anne: So question. I know that you mentioned if it’s on, let’s say, an Echo device — like do you have other capabilities outside of just the voice? I know there’s got to be a visual that goes along with that. Can you also do videos? Because I know a lot of voice talent have, they do a lot of marketing through videos that they’ve done.
Jennie: The current version doesn’t have video support, but it’s definitely something you can produce for Echo devices, and the variety of devices I’m sure will be available in the future — because that’s the other thing. This technology is constantly changing. So Samsung’s probably quite an interesting example. Samsung’s the biggest retail seller of televisions in the world, and they sell more televisions than the top three put together. So if you’re on all their TVs —
Anne: Oh that would be interesting. Yeah.
Jennie: So all their TVs also carry their assistant. And I think they’re gonna start carrying Google assistant. So suddenly you’re on everyone’s TVs as well. People can just ask their TVs to talk to you too. So then you know, the ease of interaction is most important to remember with voice. So instead of like getting your phone out of your pocket, searching, “oh yeah, how do I spell that again,” or anything like that, you can just talk, ask questions back and forth. And that, until you try it and see, it’s really hard to explain how simple and connected you feel in that sort of experience versus clicking around on a website. But that being said, these things don’t happen in a bubble. You support multichannel marketing. [laughs]
Anne: So I think that’s, I think that’s awesome. The more marketing we can do to, you know, expand our reach is amazing. So my question is, when you share this link, is it a link where somebody’s actually installing the skill on Alexa, or is it just something that magically kind of does that for them, and then you’re — they’re able to ask Alexa questions about us?
Jennie: So once you click the link, you have to have confirmation that you want to proceed with enabling the skill. And which it may sound awkward, but it’s actually good, because otherwise you might end up with things that you don’t want. So it’s like a protective mechanic. Yeah.
Anne: Right, yeah. That makes sense.
Jennie: But then once it’s enabled, you can ask all sorts of things. And so you can also do this thing called a one-shot. So you can say um, “ask Anne Ganguzza Voiceover about her studio,” instead of having to say, “open Anne Ganguzza Voiceover,” and then say —
Anne: Right, wait through all the prompt.
Jennie: Yeah, “tell me about.” You can go straight to the piece of information that you want, which is like, when you think about a conversation, that’s often what you want to do. You can ask a direct question instead of being like, “hi, how are you? [laughs] How was your day?” You can just skip to the meat that you want. So the different that ways you can interact with this are really interesting. The other thing, imagine if you have enabled, and Alexa app also works on your phone, and you want to show someone else this particular voiceover, or say a board room of people who are making a decision about hiring, you can also do it that way. And I’m sure, like there’s — I can’t get over how convincing and engaging it is. I’m gonna keep saying those words because it’s much, you know like — imagine you are presenting to a group of people, and you’re like, “this is the voice I like,” and you can play it like that and have the different interactions. So people can get a real feel for a bit more of your personality and brand as well as your voiceover acting skills.
Anne: So then I guess as a voice talent, I should emphasize that it would probably behoove you as a voice talent to be as interactive and as I guess engaging as possible, instead of sounding like it. Because I guess you don’t want to sound like Alexa.
Jennie: Yeah, yeah.
Anne: Right? Because you want to stand out from Alexa, so that when they hear that voice, they’re like, “whoa. That’s a really — you know, I feel like she’s in the room with me.”
Jennie: Yeah, that’s the exact thing. You hit it, the nail on the head. It’s that thing of like it is like you’re in the room with that person. So that’s your moment to have your elevator pitch or your interview process or your casting, in a way. So you do want to do your best to sell yourself in all of those prompts. Because that’s the first thing they’re gonna hear before they even get to listening to your demo. They’re going to hear your voice. And I’m sure that — and people make decisions so quickly. Like I wish I — I should look up the exact like milliseconds it takes people to make decisions. So it’s so important to — my mom used to say this to me. You know, put your best foot forward. So definitely I encourage people to spend time on recording those prompts and make sure that’s how they want to be presented.
Anne: And so now I’m trying to think marketing-wise, if I have people I’m marketing to, I would send them a link in an email to say, “check out my dev — you know, check out website on Alexa?” It’s kind of a really cool — right now it would work because it’s such a novel experience, and people would be interested to see, “well, what does that look like, you know on Alexa? I’d love to hear it.” That alone would keep people interested in terms of, “oh, let’s check it out and see what this website is like on Alexa.” Because the more I use it — and I have to tell you, I mean I’ve had Alexa a few years now. I bought, you know I bought a couple of Echos around the house because I wanted my dad — I wanted to be able to talk to my dad, who’s in a completely other side of the United States, to have access, you know, video, to my husband and I, and we could talk. Because he couldn’t, he couldn’t handle the technology that was Skype at the time or Zoom, and so it made it easy for me to communicate with my dad. And I’m just trying to think about like all the possibilities of people having access to Alexa where they may not have access to a web browser right in front of them, and that would just make it, again, I would be in the room with them. So I think that that’s just a really neat idea. Moving forward, what are the ways outside of that link, I guess, you could advertise on your own website too? So in case somebody finds you on the website, and you want them to try out your Alexa skill, you could post something on the front page of your website, which I think would be pretty cool.
Jennie: Yeah, exactly. It definitely has this like novel feeling to it at the moment, but I think it will get to a point in say two, three years where people will be expecting you to have a presence on Alexa or Google Assistant. Because like what happens if you run across a business that doesn’t have a website now?
Anne: Oh yeah, it’s like, what century are they — they’re not up-to-date! Exactly!
Jennie: No, and it’s weird!
Anne: They’re not current. Exactly. So.
Jennie: Yeah, yeah. So I think that being in front of that is a good angle to take, because then you get that novel effect, and then you’re still leading the way when people do catch up.
Anne: Yeah, awesome. Yeah. So get in front of the technology, BOSSes, and get yourself a voice website [laughs] from Voiceweave. And again that website is?
Jennie: It’s voiceweave.com.
Anne: Voiceweave.com. V-O-I-C-E-W-E-A-V-E dot com. You guys, check it out. And right now, my website is in beta, right?
Jennie: Mm-hmm, yep.
Anne: So probably by the time the BOSSes listen to it, it’s gonna be released, which will be really cool.
Jennie: I really wanna see everyone trying it out, and then signing up for their own ones.
Anne: Go try my site out, and [laughs] absolutely. And I, I can only imagine like what’s, what’s in the future for Voiceweave. I mean, I can imagine — you know I was talking about video. That might be a capability that might be really cool, also expanding onto other platforms. I’d love to be on like everybody’s platform, Google, Samsung, you know, Alexa. Why not?
Jennie: Definitely. So the addition of further functionality as Alexa’s developers released functionality in sort of like drips and drags, so they might come out with something super cool like, I have no idea, like [laughs] like you could be more interactive, or maybe there’s better notifications. So maybe if a user starts with your skill, they can become like your friend or something, and you can ask them questions. You know, the level of interactivity might change, so that would be — enable us to do more. And then, yeah, things like video, of course other platforms. That’s definitely coming.
Anne: People could fangirl over [laughs] or fanboy over our voices and then just talk to us on a day-to-day basis. Yeah. There’s movies made about that I think. [laughs]
Jennie: Somewhat creepy movies, if I recall.
Anne: Yeah, exactly, but hey. You know. That’s pretty awesome.
Jennie: So it’s basically, we’ll keep up with what Alexa’s doing, we’ll expand to other platforms. And we’re always delighted to hear from people who interact with Alexa, and then like, “what if we did this as an idea?” I think the more people who use voice, the better ideas are going to come out of new experiences —
Anne: Oh absolutely.
Jennie: — and better interaction. And I don’t think those ideas are always gonna come out from people who are currently in the industry. I think one of the most interesting thing, as it becomes more mainstream, then people are like, “what could we do, this weird idea with this?” And then like speak to a developer. Yeah.
Anne: It just spawns new ideas. And I, what I was mentioning about getting the device for my father, I know that when I was first starting to use it, it was a little awkward. Like for me learning, like what can I ask Alexa? What does Alexa understand? And you know, over the years, as they’ve evolved, I’m starting to feel Alexa and these devices are now more and more part of my life, even though, you know, some people again, we — our whole series of podcasts is “how can we protect our voice,” right? So how, you know — we don’t want the AI robots taking over. We don’t want the text-to-speech. But they’re here. And as much as I was feeling awkward about using it, and I’m a tech girl, I really have started to feel like I can’t — like I set alarms all the time, you know? I get recipes from Alexa all the time. It just, it’s one of those things. When I use it, I find a lot of really good things to use it for. And so I can only imagine the possibilities of having our own voices on Alexa —
Anne: — and other devices in the future.
Jennie: Totally. And like you said, using it more — my biggest thing is like, understanding the system and understanding what privacies are involved and all of those other things we speak about means you can use it better to your benefit instead of it using you. And I mean, my kids interact with Alexa every now and then. [laughs] She does understand them occasionally, asking her to play “Baby Shark.”
Anne: Oh there you go.
Jennie: The next generation coming through, it’s gonna be expected, you know? Like…
Anne: And speaking in terms of the voice, I know you must have policies and terms that there’s no ownership of our voices. We own our own voices and all that. Guys, BOSSes, check those policies out. [laughs] Yeah, yeah. So. Good. And so —
Anne: My question I guess, after all this, so that Voiceweave doesn’t own our voices. We own our, we own the rights to our voices here. In terms of Alexa, because it happens to be a third party app on Alexa, they don’t own it either.
Jennie: No. So we retain ownership of the contents of the skill. And so that protects your voices. And we definitely don’t, we don’t want to own your voices. [laughs] That’s your data. We’re not interesting in synthesizing or anything like that. This is much more about having a really good way to get your voice in front of other people. And we just felt that it was an interesting thing to do. To be frank, I’m quite bored of Alexa’s voice, so it was a pleasure to hear all these amazing voiceover artists. And I’m like, oh, I like never — I personally never want to use Alexa’s own voice again, because it’s not good compared to real human voices currently. And so, and that’s an experience I’ve shared with other developers as well. The level of engagement and just how more personal it feels to speak to a real human. And it sets these skills apart. Right? Like I’m not gonna mistake your voice skill for someone else’s. It’s your voice. And that I think is something brands will really latch onto soon. Because why would you want your voice, your brand to be represented by the same — it’s like McDonald’s and Burger King using the same voice for their ads. They’d never do it.
Anne: Right, exactly.
Jennie: I think the same will come in big branding for voice as well. So it’s interesting all round and probably a really exciting time to learn more about it and get involved.
Anne: Absolutely. Absolutely. So then, how much, what is — is there a ballpark price for this, for — is it based on per prompt, is it based on length of your website or the amount of content that you have on your website? How is that pricing?
Jennie: So it’s a subscription. And that’s so we can keep the voice site up, because there’s always ongoing costs to this sort of thing, and they are sort of determined by size. So you get your starter one, which is just three audio responses and one quick link, and these are all global now. They have global reach. Then you have your plus system, which is 10 audio responses and two quick links which can link into different parts. So like the starter one, you just link to the start of um —
Anne: To open it?
Jennie: And with the plus version, you can link it just to your demos. Say you actually meet someone, and they’ve already spoken to you personally, and you’re like, “oh, they just want to listen to my demos.” Then you can use this link to get them straight there.
Anne: Like “open Anne Ganguzza Demos.”
Jennie: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Anne: Got it, got it.
Jennie: And then the pro version, you get unlimited audio responses. So this, it’s really good if you have like demos that may — you might have different types, or you have a particular skill set, or something you just want to fill out more to make yourself stand out further. So basically anything you’re — you could be asked, you could provide a response to.
Anne: So can we provide — can we have custom prompts made for us? Can I say, “I really want people to be able to ask about my coaching services or my demo production services?”
Jennie: Yeah. So that’s at that pro level.
Anne: Got it, got it. Nice. Wow, well, I’m super excited, and I’m excited for the BOSS listeners out there to check out my website and see what this is all about. Check out voiceweave.com. It’s really cool, guys. Make yourselves current, relevant, you know, get yourself in front of the technology, and you know your voices are secure. And [laughs] you retain all rights to your voices, so that’s important, and I know that I’ve been talking to Jennie, you know, a lot about rights of our voices and ethics with companies. And so I think this is an amazing start to really, really interesting things to come in the future. So Jennie, thank you so much. So excited to see the future of this to evolve even more for, for voiceover artists everywhere.
Jennie: Cool. Thank you so much.
Anne: Awesome. Alright BOSSes. I’m gonna give a great, big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and network like a BOSS, and find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys, have a great week, and we’ll see to you next week.
Jennie: Bye! [laughs]
Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com to receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS.
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