The Word Grab: How To Own The Chatbot Space

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Are you one of those people who has a little black tube in the kitchen that the kids love to ask what the weather is going to be like to, so they can skive off school?  Alexa and the rest of her clan are pretty good at delivering the goods on that.

However, you might also be a serious business owner and although she’s coming up with some good answers, she may be prioritising other businesses and services.  Not her fault, it’s just that she doesn’t know about you, yet – and that’s not good for business.

Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the influx of devices bringing bots into everyday home situations is not an option.

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella has even gone on record saying the future of technology lies in human language and conversation is the new interface. Bots are the new apps.

It’s about time you got involved in the land grab that is the chatbot space before it’s too late and you are relegated to the equivalent of page 10 in a Google search.

Today, I am going to offer you a few practical tips on getting in on the action.  But first, a little introduction in order to better understand how to achieve the results that will benefit your business.

Wakey Wakey

When you use Alexa you start an application by giving her a voice command after first waking her up with ‘Alexa’. You then furnish the application with instructions as to what you want her to return with or the task you wish her to execute.

For instance, you’d say “Alexa, open recipes,” and then it might ask, “Which meal you would you like to prepare?”.

Rather like in the halcyon days of the 1990s when there was a land grap to own domain names, there is now a land grab in the Alexa skill market to own the words that come after the ‘wake’word.

Brands that want to get involved with this chatbot and sell products through the Amazon platform need to think about how they are literally spoken about in the Alexa context.
An example, if you work for Vodafone what is the Vodafone word that owns all the skills on the platform and same for other voice driven technologies?

If you are a brand that needs to get into that space you need to work out what that strategy is for you.  You need to start getting those applications out there now before somebody else beats you to it and you see your share of the market plummet off a cliff.
And this is only the start; other devices will soon emerge that will also demand your attention in order to get your consumers attention.


This is the pre-evolution to search.  In the early days of the internet you needed to know where to go.  You needed to know the specific URL in order to go somewhere.  There was no way of finding it and the gems of information within.

When Google et al turned up you could then find your way through search and search was driven through the name of the site more than the content.  In 2017 it is now driven through the content.

Using the same paradigm for voice, if you don’t know exactly what the thing is you need you might ask a generic term – such as: “Fix my car,” or   ”Find me a garage.” On one hand, it may not understand this command  but if you say, “Car repairs. Pick up my car tomorrow,” that is a different call to action and the type you need to own.

With chatbots it is all about owning the category of stuff and in order to own that you need to develop and publish the skill.  There is no easy way to buy it in.  This is the realm of the developer and you better be trained up in it to reap the rewards.

Sure, there are second rate applications out there that are effectively buying those spaces by offering very low fidelity experiences.

Once it is out there, however, like an email address or domain name, you can’t do anything about it.   You can not duplicate it, only extend it.

You know you’d rather the chat .com equivalent than .London

As already stresses, in order to be a winner is this brave new world you need to start thinking about that strategy and own it before someone beats you to it and rather like you have these secondary domain names like .London, you can’t extend that with natural language.  You have to say this is my word.

Here are the 3 things you need to do to succeed in the chatbot space.

Help me Rhonda

How does your brand sound?

1)  In this post digital age, we have gone full circle from using a keyboard and mouse to communicate to using our voices again.  Voice is obviously a lot easier to control so where brands are used to how they look, they have to get used to how they sound.

Why not ask your current customers to describe your product or service and start snapping up all the words that come back?

2)  Service as opposed to brand show and tell

Whilst doing that, they need to understand that people will have a different point of view on what they do and what they think they do, so brands need more of an outside in approach.

Your potential audience may not use a brand name for instance.  As an example they are more likely to request that their carpet be vacuumed tomorrow than using the the words Hoover or Dyson.

Whoever owns the carpet cleaning words is going to reap all the traffic for that because it is in the system.

As a product or service provider, you need to think about being more service driven than brand driven.

3)  Home is where the tech is

Both the previous points lead to the connected home.  As a brand you need to be in there from insurance to lighting and refrigeration.

We are all going to be getting rid of our phones and laptops in the future and with them too, our reliance on screens.  Instead, we are going to be communicating with the machines and AI with our voices.

The person who owns the devices in the home will prevail. And in order to do that as a brand owner you need to think like a product manager and not a marketeer.   Ask yourself, what does my audience need and own that space.

Provide long-term value to your consumers by making things easier and more convenient for them or offering them knowledge or functionality that makes things that little bit better.

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