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008 – Scot & Susan Westwater – Pragmatic Voice Strategies

Today’s podcast episode features Scot and Susan Westwater of Pragmatic Digital. Scot and Susan started their two-person digital consultancy at the end of 2017, combining their extensive experience wearing different hats within digital marketing firms and agencies. The motivation behind starting Pragmatic Digital was the realization that voice technology was following a similar trajectory of the web, social and mobile computing and the growing need for a pragmatic approaches to voice.

As two seasoned content, marketing and digital strategists, they’re looking to help guide businesses of all sizes into this new technology and understand what opportunities exist. As Susan describes it (paraphrased), “A strategy isn’t worth having unless you can execute and implement against it. We’re helping companies to not let big ideas overshadow the utility and general needs of their customers, hence the name, Pragmatic Digital.”

The reason I wanted to bring these two on the podcast today was to talk about their recently published book, Voice Strategy: Creating Useful & Usable Voice Experiences. The book begins by touching on why voice technology represents a new form of utility for companies to leverage and why it’s relevant for any type of company to start thinking about. Even for those that are well informed on the growing importance of voice, this portion of the book serves as a good resource to utilize when building one’s business case internally or for a client.

From there, the book begins to delve into the process of identifying one’s voice strategy. This portion helps businesses determine where to start and uses a proprietary framework that isn’t too unfamiliar from previous digital frameworks, and fuses together Scot and Susan’s best practices around advertising, the web and digital. It’s here where businesses begin to understand which aspects of their legacy marketing and communications make sense to layer voice onto, and which parts don’t.

Rather than trying to boil the ocean or hit a homerun, Scot and Susan are just trying to help companies get the ball rolling with a base hit. They’ve found through the process of writing this book that it’s this idea – “where do I even begin” – is very common among many businesses who are even to the point where they’re bought into the idea of wading into the world of voice.

In Scot’s eyes, the value of the framework can be described as such, “One of the big challenges right now is that I think a lot of us are guessing, and so because there aren’t best practices, because we don’t know how people are going to really respond to this, it’s, ‘I get this big idea, let me create a proof of concept and see if anything happens.’ So, this framework is a really good way to start to understand what exactly the audience needs out of anything and then look at how voice can play into that.” Ultimately, the book helps to serve as a blueprint for how to think about voice for all stakeholders involved, whether that be the audience, internally, or with a client.

One of the other aspects to this book that I found intriguing was the actual publishing process. The two felt that it would be disingenuous to write a full-fledged book about voice technology, without actually using any type of voice technology. Therefore, the two, “literally talked this book into existence,” by sitting with a microphone, transcribing the audio, and then using those transcripts as their first drafts as a starting to point to craft each draft. Talk about eating your own dogfood!

My big takeaway from this episode was that Pragmatic Digital and the demand that they’re meeting is another sign that voice is growing up. As someone who’s been in the voice-waters for three years, it sometimes feels a bit, “pie in the sky,” and while I have no objection with grandiose-thinking, I think that people like Scot and Susan help to keep things grounded in what’s possible now, and how to actually execute on it. There’s going to be an increasing amount of ways that companies will be able to utilize voice in their communication strategies, but experts will be needed to help guide businesses into those early stages and help them to find ways to even get started.

Their book can be ordered here or trough Amazon.

-Thanks for Reading-

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