256: Voice Search & Listings, with Brooke Henderson

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Voice search is our future, are you ready? Listings data and voice search are starting to become hand-in-hand.

Brooke Henderson, Senior Director of Strategic Partnership Growth at Yext, is our amazing guest this week. Brooke and George take a deep dive into the listing sources ecosystem. It’s happening people, the future is voice search. Brooke explains the value of having the capability and the know-how to incorporate voice search into listings data.  Set it and forget it is a thing of the past, especially when it comes to listings. Various listing companies are all working with one another to compare their data. Find out how Uber stays current.

Brooke grew up in small business. Her experience running sales organizations, selling radio advertising, and co-founding a small digital agency has been the driving force behind her success in developing turnkey reseller strategies in the world of digital marketing since 2012. The demand to have the best marketing strategies for their small business clients are the sole focus of her partners, and her passion is to give them the strategies and resources to execute, drive revenue, and decrease client attrition with digital knowledge management.



George: Welcome to the latest episode of the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. This week’s episode was coming from a question that we received from our LinkedIn channel, and we love that feedback. Thanks to everyone for your comments and questions and suggestions for upcoming episodes.

George: Well, Brooke Henderson is joining us and she got her start by running her very own digital agency. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Brooke over a number of years and we’re going to take a deep dive into the listing sources ecosystem and see if we can give you some nuggets when you’re on that next sales call showing the value around why businesses need to have their listings consistent and to continue to update them. The big reason, I’m going to let you in on a secret, we’re going to talk all about voice search. We are expecting something very monumental to happen in 2020, and all of that and the fabulous Brooke Henderson coming up next on the Conquer Local podcast.

George: It’s the latest edition of the Conquer Local podcast, and we’re really excited to have Brooke Henderson in studio, Senior Director of Strategic Partnership Growth at Yext. Brooke, welcome to the show.

Brooke: Thank you, George. Now you’re really bringing flashbacks to me because I used to be a DJ for a radio, so I’m very excited today.

George: Well, I remember seeing that in your history, so I was like, “We don’t even have to practice or anything. We can just jump right into this.” You know, we’ve launched the Conquer Local community in Slack and we have lots of listeners that have joined up and they’re asking questions, and there’s a great question, came across my desk here the other day from Ian Harton, and he said, “If you could ever get Brooke in the studio,” because he saw you at the conference, “Could you ask her a question for me?” So I’m going to do that.

George: Let’s pretend that you were an agency owner and you were looking to build monthly recurring revenue, and specifically using Yext, how would you go about doing that? And I think you’ve got a bit of insight around this whole agency ownership thing.

Brooke: I actually do. I owned my own agency called Local Roll Call back in 2007, and it was actually acquired by a company in this space because I had built a directory of small business listings. So, I actually started by reselling info group back before this whole listings world actually got started. It’s an interesting question because I actually get it all of the time. Digital knowledge management is what we stand for at Yext, and it’s the foundation of any business.

Brooke: So the beauty of what we do at Yext is we strengthen what an agency already does or what they’re really, really good at. If you’re driving awareness by a website or by a search engine marketing, by radio advertising, by TV, you’ve got a great strategy there. But in that moment of truth, if you’re not found after you’ve been made aware of, if that business isn’t found then you’ve pretty much just wasted money in that sense. So, digital knowledge management strengthens what an agency does at the core and it creates that additional value. So if they are looking for more monthly reoccurring, they should just make sure that everything that they sell has digital knowledge management attached to it.

George: So, it’s a very sticky solution as well to keep that customer engaged. You and I both have been doing this for a while, when we sell an ad campaign that could be episodic, could be like, “I’m going to run it for two months. I’ve got an excess of inventory I need to get rid of.” But you know, if you’re looking to get that MRR, having these foundational solutions is really the key to it.


Drive Home the Value of Digital Knowledge Management

Brooke: Oh, absolutely. I mean, and especially in that instance where you have a start date and an end date to a particular campaign, it really helps to drive home the value of what a digital knowledge management is, because we can also identify attributes during that actual campaign, which means that we can go back to that customer and say, “I know that we did this campaign, but look at the results of Google. What phone calls are you getting from Google? What actions are you getting from Google?” So now you have a reason to continue to go back and show, we’ve got more attribution to show to that.

George: Let’s talk about the listing sources. I know that we’re going to get into the whole idea of it’s more than just listings in a moment, but what you said there, it really hits home. We run some sort of a marketing effort or campaign and we look at Google My Business data or the data that’s rolled up from the Yext network, and if all the searches start going up and all the phone calls start going up and all the driving directions start going up, that is directly attributed to the work that we’re doing at building awareness around the brand or the business.

Brooke: Oh, absolutely. But we also have to continue to control it because the sneaky thing about digital knowledge is that it is changing and evolving constantly. Just as an example, platforms and technology evolve just based around users themselves. So Hilton, for example, has a very popular app and it’s all travel consumers, but what they have in there is a great feature of local businesses for that consumer when they’re visiting that particular property. So, it’s really important to ensure that, no matter the moment of truth, if they hear it on the radio, if they see it in a display ad, if they see it on TV, that when they see that on Hilton, they know that they’ll be able to find them and provide the best information there.

George: Well, that’s a great point. So when we think of this ecosystem of where should I be found or where should I … I’m going to give you a segue here, where should I be able to place my answers? So, I’m a Hilton customer. I use that app religiously. So, when I’m in a new community, I should actually add it up one time over the course of a month how many buying decisions I made based upon the data that Hilton is giving me. They’re my trusted provider of information. Where to eat, where to get your dry cleaning done, where to buy a new pair of shoes if you … so all of those items that come in, that’s a really great analogy.

George: Let’s talk about answers. I’ve listened to you a couple of times here over the last few months with the … I’m not going to say it’s a new script, but it definitely is an interesting evolution of the story because we have name, address, phone number, and hours of operation. But it’s way more than that. It is … well, let me use this example. I’m very concerned about losing my hair. It’s my thing, I’m getting older all the time. We’ve got the receding hairline. So, I believe that if I use Aveda products that I’m going to keep my hair longer. Somebody sold me that a long time ago. I love Aveda. It’s fantastic. So when I look for a hair salon in a marketplace, I’m actually looking for somebody that sells Aveda. So, this is way more than are you open? What time are you open? Where do I find you? How do I get there in my navigation app? It’s more about do you sell the product or service that I’m looking to acquire?

Brooke: Oh, absolutely. And we can apply this in our own lives every single day. Recently my dentist dropped the insurance that I carry, Cigna. Now, I’m a very busy mom. I have six kids and I’m very much structured when it comes to my calendar. So my voice question was, I need a dentist with Saturday appointments that carries Cigna and is a pediatric dentist. That’s a lot of information. So, if a business isn’t really readily making aware the general public what it is that makes them unique, or why a consumer would actually visit them, they’re losing money. They’re losing sales, period.


Listings Are Not a Set It and Forget It Solution

George: When we present this to a customer, there’s a really unique story that has to be told based upon what the business is selling so that they can understand that by not taking advantage of the technology and the tactic that they’re missing out on revenue. So, is there really a different script for selling to a dentist than selling to an insurance company than selling to a restaurant? How do you make that pitch across different verticals if I’m dealing with a broad customer base?

Brooke: That’s an interesting question, and I do actually a lot of sales training with the partners of Yext and one of the things that we make sure is that the salespeople, the account executives, the field sellers, the inside salespeople know how to tell that story. They understand who it is that they’re talking to. But, the easiest thing is thinking about yourself as a consumer. The minute you do that, the lights go off for that business owner. You have to take that hat off of, I’m a business owner and I’m the greatest at what I do, and simply say, “Tell me what do you do when you need something? What are you saying? What device are you using? What are you looking to?” Then you can craft that story and ask more questions to unearth those pain points and instantly apply, no matter what industry it is, why this is important for them to do.

George: I love that. What we are all about here in the Conquer Local podcasts is helping local sellers to tell the story, but also to set the expectations of what’s going to happen, and to deliver what may be the possible outcome. So, if we use these tactics here could be the possible outcome. How do you set that expectation of a possible outcome when you’re teaching salespeople? How do you train on that? Because I do know that you’ve talked to lots of salespeople and you’ve heard lots of stories about how they went out and tried to position the product or service. But, what we’re looking for is monthly recurring revenue. The gift that keeps on giving. How do we keep those customers and really talk about the outcome?

Brooke: Well, that is a great question, and one of the things that I drive home, first of all, is that the sellers always set the right expectation. This isn’t a set it and forget it product because we’re constantly evolving as businesses. We have new employees, we have new hours, we have new products and services. Well, we need to make sure that the general public knows that or that our consumers know that, but on the same note, utilizing the tool and making sure that they are setting the expectation that if they use the tool, they’ll be successful and constantly reaching out to give them those meaningful conversations, that they’re going to see a lift, they are going to see the results of it.


Technology Is More Sophisticated: Clients Should Be There with It

Brooke: I’ve been doing this for a really long time and I’ve done it for a number of different companies. I’ve actually probably worked for every competitor of Yext, finally got to the right place. But, no matter the solution that I’ve worked for, I’ve always understood that if you’re taking care of the basics, the ABCs, the one, two, threes, it will benefit you at 100% because what matters to Google is that you are the authority, that it’s consistent, and by doing that they are going to reward you. If you don’t do that, they’ll penalize you.

George: I’m going to ask a question. I’ve had people ask me this, do we really need 70 sources? Do we really need our data right on 70 sources? So when the SMBs says, “Why do I need all those sources?” What do we say back to them?

Brooke: Oh my gosh, I absolutely love this question, primarily because if we think, again, go back to your consumer behavior, we’re being driven to ask questions all of the time. But let’s use the example of a car. Right now many states and provinces have these no texting laws and Bluetooth laws that are forcing us to use our voice. As a busy mom, I’ll use myself as an example, I’m multitasking. I am using the GPS system to ask questions or I’m using my phone to ask questions when I’m on the move as a result of that. This is going to continue to happen. Technology is going to continue to become more sophisticated. We’re going to be forced to use our voices. I mean, look, technology’s even getting closer by our Apple watches and all of the devices that we’re wearing, so absolutely it matters.

Brooke: I’ll give you an example of the Hilton app. Most businesses wouldn’t know that they don’t have to go to Hilton to get their information there. They have to put it onto Foursquare. Now, a lot of businesses may know what Foursquare is or they may not. We find that in our presales tools that a lot of them are missing, or the information is wrong because it’s outdated. So, if they’re not in Foursquare, they’re not in Hilton, they’re missing that consumer that’s ready to do business with them in that moment of intent.

George: I heard a rumor that Uber’s data comes from Foursquare.

Brooke: Uber’s data comes from Foursquare. Uber’s data actually comes from a lot of different places, and actually a lot of these platforms are buying and selling data in between one another and they’re comparing data between one another. So, wouldn’t it make more sense that the business controls the data at every source possible as opposed to just leaving it out to chance? Of course.

George: Well, what I was looking for is how do our reps, when they’re on the street and they get faced with that objection, deal with the objection? And it’s like, wouldn’t you want to cover all your bases? Don’t you want every new possible deal? What would a new deal be worth to you, Mr. business person? And it doesn’t really … do you care where I find it if I could find you one new deal? So, that’s great that you gave us some of those things that we could do to deal with that objection.

George: Now, the next piece is voice. You’ve touched on it a couple of times, but I really want to hammer it home with our salespeople. This is an enormous opportunity, because businesses may have corrected their NAP data or corrected their hours of operation, but we are asking of our virtual assistants a lot more. I caught myself yesterday saying please to Alexa.


Fit into the Future of Voice

George: But anyways, my point is, as you mentioned earlier in that last search that you brought up around your dentist, you would never type that. You’re asking more of the voice assistant than you ever would type in. And by the way, typing sucks. So voice is going to continue to drive the conversation, and businesses need to be ready for it. What are the stats? Could you give us a couple of high-level stats that we could then build into our elevator pitches as we’re out talking about just how bloody important voice is to local business?

Brooke: When we first started going down this path of voice it was predicted that by 2020 50% of search would be voice-activated. That was in 2020, which is just next year. And again, I can’t stress this enough, think about your own behaviors. The minute that you start doing that the light goes off again as, “Yeah, I do talk to it,” and I think our kids are kind of ahead of the curve when it comes to voice, because I’ve seen my son ask Alexa and even argue with Alexa until he gets the answer that he wants. So, even this newer generation of consumers, they’re becoming more tech-savvy and they’re becoming more demanding when it comes to what it is that they’re looking for, and they’re all doing it by voice.

Brooke: I mean, think about it now, when you’re walking down the street and you can’t type because you’re really paying attention to what you’re doing. You’re talking to text or you’re talking to the search engine or you’re talking to Alexa when you’re cooking or when you’re listening to the radio. I mean, there are so many different scenarios where it obviously makes sense that we should be arming ourselves for this new future of voice.



George: Brooke gave a great presentation at Conquer Local in San Diego a few weeks back and we’re going to be publicizing that presentation so others can see it. So, thank you for that, and I appreciate you being around so that we could get Ian’s question answered here, and I really appreciate the insights that you bring. The one thing that I admire about working with best of breed companies like Yext is you’ve been through pretty much every scenario and we can then leverage that knowledge to help us learn quicker on how to deliver the solution and how to deal with the objections. Maybe objection is the wrong word because it’s like, “Oh, I try to come up with ways that I don’t need this,” but it’s more around educating the customer.

George: Now, for our group of conquerors that are listening to the podcast, where would they go if they arrive at the Yext website to get more of these high-level deliverables around 50% of all voice search by 2020, here’s the number of search terms that people are doing on voice compared to what they would type. I know that you guys have a massive research department. You dot all your I’s and cross your T’s on this. So, if I were a salesperson and I’m selling Yext through the Vendasta platform or whatever it might be, where would I find this information just so that we can point them in the right direction?

Brooke: Go to yext.com and then you’d go to resources. Every week we’re delivering case studies, so we’re actually delivering how clients are using Yext now, but more importantly, what are they doing with it and what are they getting out of it? I mean, we’ve taken a lot of the analytics out of Yext and our clients are making decisions operationally based off of what they’re getting from the results of those. So, definitely go to the blog. Also, our LinkedIn page is constantly reposting those blogs and it covers everything from financial to health care, retail, and food. There’s a ton of case studies and definite education for anyone that’s looking to sell it.

George: Fantastic. Brooke Anderson, the Senior Director of Strategic Partnership Growth at Yext joining us this week on the Conquer Local podcast.

George: Well, we’ve heard it more than once. We are in a landscape where you can’t set it and forget it. The products that you’re selling are always evolving. The hours of your business are evolving. You may want to have special hours over a holiday or something like that, then we’ve got your location plus special nuances about your business. All of that information is changing on an ongoing basis. I found it really interesting that Uber’s data comes from Foursquare, and I’ve thought a lot about this because I’m a Hilton guy. I use the Hilton app quite a bit, and it always gives me a suggestion of what’s close by the hotel that I might be interested in. Again, that data coming from Foursquare. All of the platforms are working with each other to compare their data and that’s going to help you as a business owner and it’s going to help you as a salesperson when you position the opportunity that exists by having that information correct.

George: 50% of searches will be done by voice activation. That’s a wild number when you think of it, and I know that I am guilty, I do probably 10 of these a day, especially when traveling because you just don’t know what’s nearby and you’re looking for something that’s quick and easy and fits your needs when you’re on the road. Show me a steakhouse nearby. Show me a laundromat nearby. Show me an electronic store nearby because I lost my phone. Those types of voice searches, 50% of them will be done in 2020 already.

George: A big thank you to Brooke from Yext. Always a pleasure speaking with her, and the Conquer Local Slack community. We need you to get in there and contribute. Go to ConquerLocal.slack.com to register, and we’d love to have some comments on there. Show us your favorite blogs, maybe your favorite podcasts that you’re listening to. You can just upload whatever content you want and you can ask questions of our ever-growing Conquer Local Slack community. Keep the feedback coming in. We love hearing from our listeners. Best place to reach us is on my LinkedIn profile. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.

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