7 Best Things You Can Do With Amazon Echo

Do you have a new Alexa device? It might be the Amazon Echo, the Amazon Echo Dot, or the Amazon Tap. The Amazon Echo has earned tremendous acclaim since its launch last year. It’s important to know the features of your new smart assistant. That’s how you can exploit it for all its benefits and use it up to its full potential. The Echos’ virtual assistant, Alexa, can do a lot of amazing things on your command. Now, there are two ways you can use it. You can either waste your precious productive time fooling around with it or read the top benefits right here.

Here we list the 7 best things you can do with the Amazon Echo.

1. Call Your Contacts

Amazon Echo brings the traditional landlines back into business. The assistant allows you to call any number in your contact list. You can use your Alexa device to make a voice call to any of your contacts who also have the device. Additionally, you can even leave a message if the person doesn’t respond. Currently, the assistant offers no option for blocking specific numbers.

2. Grab Your Meals and More

Echo isn’t confined to just placing orders on Amazon. You now can use Alexa to order other things as well. It incorporates the two-hour daily delivery system of Amazon. For now, the service is only available in some selected cities and is valid for items of daily needs and other household items. However, there are some cities where you can place an order for food and even alcohol as well.

3. Plan Your Day

This is unmistakably the topmost feature. Yes, Alexa can help you plan your day. How? The modern smart assistant tells you about the weather outside your house and the happenings around the world. You can have a complete overview of the day and a quick recap of the news around you. Additionally, you can also check your to-do list for the day. Utilising these features you are able to plan and choose your clothing and events according to your schedule.

4. Make Your Home Smarter

Amazon Echo can easily turn your home into a smart home. The Alexa is equipped with a smart home tool to let you master most operations of your smart home. So, now with Alexa, you can switch your lights on and off and even change the colors of your lights. Additionally, you can change the temperature of your room according to your preference. Also, you can control all the door locks of your home easily. And, that’s not all. Alexa can control anything that’s smart in your house.

5. Read Without Reading

Alexa can help you to “read” several books without truly having to read them. Another Amazon-powered feature packed in Alexa is ‘Audible.’ It reads audio books for you while you’re occupied doing other things. The book stays in sync across various devices to let you start from the point where you left off at the last time. You can play or pause a book, advance or turn it back by 30 seconds and even set a timer for the play or pause functions.

6. Play Your Choice of Music

Alexa can play nearly any music or song that you feel in the mood for. Although the default music player for Alexa is obviously the Amazon player, Amazon isn’t that stubborn. Alexa allows you to set your own music services like Spotify or other such apps. So, all you have to do is just set your favorite music service as the Alexa default, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Your assistant is smart enough to find and play your favorite music or song from its catalog.

7. Make It Do Anything

Alexa connects to a lot of devices, but not all. There are quite a few devices that aren’t compatible with your smart assistant. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control them. You can train your assistant to do more. The feature that enables your Alexa to connect with unsupported apps, devices, and websites is called IFTTT. Even though unsupported devices can’t be controlled with voice commands to the Alexa, you can still program your assistant for various tasks using IFTTT.

So these are our picks for the best things your Amazon Echo can do for you. Apart from these, the assistant has a plethora of functions. You can get to know them all over a period of time using it. So, get smart, and get the Amazon Echo.

Life Is an Echo: The Extraordinary Zig Ziglar

He lived well…

I came across a quote by Zig Ziglar today which led me to Life is an Echo. It’s an excerpt from See You at the Top. It was rejected by 30 different publishers before it was ever printed. The publishers weren’t impressed with this humble salesman. Before today, I knew so little of the history of this self-made man. I’m so blessed by taking some time to learn more. I hope you will feel the same.

Zig Ziglar was born…

in the tiny Alabama town of Enterprise in 1926. It’s one so small that you really have to be looking to find. Blink and you’ve missed it. It’s the land of cotton, soy beans and corn. It’s most known for a Boll Weevil Monument and peanuts. Moreover, Dale County is the Peanut Capitol of the World. It’s as Americana as it gets. I’ve passed through Enterprise a hundred times over the years, always on my way to somewhere else. You’d think I would have seen the sign saying “birthplace of our most famous son.” But this is where Zig lived his first five years. I can’t help but think of the influence this land had on him.

When I read Life is an Echo today, Enterprise ran through my mind. See You at the Top is about kindness and striving to do the right thing. It’s about treating people the way you’d like to be treated. It’s about HOPE. It’s about anticipating good things from people. If you know of Zig, then you know this is his theme song. Zig had a strong belief-system that started back in the red, Alabama clay.

Reap what you sow

Zig’s dad was a farmer. It makes me think of my relative who farm’s a few miles from his birthplace. I have learned so much from him. He is very wise. He can repair and build anything. In fact, he could have been any number of things. He loved that red clay he was born on and chose to be farmer. I’ve seen him throw on a suit, meet with a banker in town, and finance next year’s crops despite a “very bad year.” He made me realize farming is hard work. I know that farming is a lot like life. “You reap what you sow” has true meaning to both farmers and life. Tending. Patching. Watching. Waiting. Praying. Repairing. Studying. Resting. Adjusting. Testing. Crying. Rejoicing. Working. Working. Working.

Less than 2 years after the start of the great depression, Zig’s father relocated the family to Mississippi. He moved them so he could manage another farm in very bad times. A year later, when he was just 6 years old, his father died of pneumonia. Two days later, his little sister died. He was one of 12 children then raised by a single mom in a slow-recovering country. Can you imagine the pain for that little guy? And yet, he accomplished so much. If anyone had a reason to live a negative life, it might as well be him.

Black Monday

I know this story well. My grandfather died exactly 2 months after “Black Monday.” At 27, he left a young widow with 3 small children at the worst possible time. The oldest was my 5-year-old mother. She and her siblings were all separated and forced to live with relatives. My grandma returned to her parents’ home for several years. She made and sold queen-sized, hand-pieced, heirloom quilts for $2 each to survive. (I’m blessed to have 3 of her quilts. They are each works of perfection.)

My mother told endless stories. People who didn’t farm were starving. Mom learned to cook complete meals and do difficult farm work while her mom worked the farm. At 5, she could kill, clean, cut up, and cook a chicken by herself! I know how this impacted my reality: I was raised by two depression babies. Knowing all this, Zig’s positive nature intrigues me even more.

I’m including Life is an Echo below. Read it. Reflect on the countless masses of men and women Zig Ziglar helped over the years. He was the college drop-out who became the world’s most famous salesman. Life is an Echo was more than his “swan song.” As you read it, think about his simple beginnings during the worst financial time America has ever seen. Here’s my takeaway: DO YOU have a good reason why you can’t succeed THIS year?

Zig Ziglar, Life is an Echo

Life is an echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow you reap. What you give you get. What you see in others exists in you. Regardless of who you are or what you do, if you are looking for the best way to reap the most reward in all areas of life, you should look for the good in every person and in every situation and adopt the golden rule as a way of life.

It’s a universal truth that you treat people exactly like you see them. It’s also true that all you have to do to find “good” or “ability” in a person is to look for it. Once you find that “good” or “ability” in the other person, you treat him better and he performs better. So it’s good “business” and good “humanness” to be a “good finder.”

Well said, Zig.

Are you struggling to succeed in a sluggish economy? If so, share some of your stories or tips that keep you motivated and positive like Zig. Just leave a comment below.

The Future of Digital Marketing: Five Trends to Leverage a Small Business Opportunity

Jameson General Store was a historical treasure in the small North Carolina Community. Jim Jameson, the owner, had been part of the family legacy over 100 years old. The company had seen bad times, including The Great Depression. However, their hard work and customer loyalty had sustained the company’s success.

Even when a neighboring community got its Walmart’s Marketplace Store, their customers remained loyal. Jim did not believe in utilizing online advertising and social media platforms. He believed that these activities were only a fad. Yet, their customers gradually started shopping online because Jameson General Store was limited in its product offerings.

In fact, most of the business that Jameson Store lost was not to local competitors, but online sellers. Jim was adamant about resisting the temptation about shopping online. Yet, when he saw his own 10-year-old grandson purchase a difficult item to locate in the area online at significant costs, Jim had to ponder his current marketing strategy with the changing landscape in the nation.

Today’s customers can purchase a variety of items online with minimum effort. Given this scenario, brick and mortar companies are fighting to stay alive with the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics looking at 1,164 U.S. business owners, the following observations were made:

  • 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.
  • 51% of Americans prefer to shop online.
  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).
  • 51% of seniors have shopped on marketplaces, 66% at large retailer sites, 30% on web stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the internet and how to effectively leverage this power. According to Socialmedia.com, 90% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Sadly, many small businesses do not recognize this fact. Many businesses had opted to bury their heads in the sand in hopes that this ‘internet thing’ will go away. It hadn’t!

In fact, e-Commerce is growing more than 23% annually; however, 46% of American small businesses do not have a website according to Square and Mercury Analytics research. This article focuses on how small businesses can leverage digital marketing to achieve greater success and enhance their market opportunities.

Digital marketing should be a tool that every serious small business should utilize. Digital marketing goes by many names such as e-commerce marketing, online marketing, and internet marketing. Digital marketing can be defined as “the marketing of products or services using digital channels to reach consumers.” The key objective is to promote brands the usage of the internet.

Digital marketing extends beyond internet marketing to include channels that do not require the use of the internet. Some digital marketing channels include websites, social media platforms, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, podcasts, and online advertising to name a few. Beyond technology gimmicks, businesses should know their customers and their core competencies. Digital marketing is not a silver bullet. Digital marketing is a tool for the savvy business professional.

Catherine Juan, Donnie Greiling, and Catherine Buerkle, authors of Internet Marketing: Start to Finish, suggest that effective digital marketing requires plenty of careful planning. They add, “The heart of getting real traction out of your internet marketing program is to tie marketing and sales data together, with metrics. Track what you’re doing, track the impact, and track the resulting sales.” Looking at the landscape of technology and internet innovation, small businesses should think strategically about the following five digital marketing trends:

Artificial Intelligence – Some people develop elaborate doom-day scenarios of machines to control the world. However, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a way of life in marketing. AI can be defined as ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.’ Voice Activation technology like Amazon’s Echo is bringing AI into public attention. By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their purchases without interacting with a person.

Internet Searching – Buyers are more knowledgeable than ever with access to the internet. In fact, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases. Thus, exploring how to utilize search engine optimization and getting your business at the top of searches is an invaluable step.

Mobile Communications – Most Americans have grown accustomed to instant gratification and easy access to technology. Mobile and tablet e-commerce will reach $293B by 2018. Smartphone and tablets are part of this wave of innovation. Mobile will account for 72% of the U.S. digital ad spend by 2019. Marketers recognize that mobile marketing is an untapped business tool.

Social Media – Social media platforms, like Facebook, allows buyers to connect with each other virtually. 65% of business-to-business companies have acquired customers through LinkedIn ads. Marketers realize this value.

Web Content – Good content will attract customers. In fact, customers are more likely to purchase from sellers with good, relevant videos/photos on their website. 52% of marketing professionals globally name the video as the type of content with the best ROI.

Faced with the tenants of competition, small businesses need to utilize digital marketing. Some small businesses may be hesitant to explore digital marketing due to their lack of trust and understanding of the internet. Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller, authors of Marketing Management, note “Top firms are comfortable using technology to improve the way they do business with their business-to-business customers.”

This article demonstrated that today’s small businesses can utilize digital marketing to enhance their market opportunities. Hopefully, gaining this knowledge will help business owners so that they will not continue to bury their heads in the sand. The internet is here to stay. Pray that you are listening to this message.

© 2017 by DD Green