Nurturing the correct business voice for your brand is imperative, if you want to speak to your target market in a language they can relate to and clearly understand. Your online voice gives your brand a personality on your landing page, website, social media pages, blog posts, and any other place you interact with customers, fans and prospects.
With so many people trying to engage the same customers, your voice is what helps you rise above all the chatter to build trust and an emotional bond with your peeps.
According to CBS News MoneyWatch, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” The article says that you can have innovative ideas, but if you can’t deliver them in a way that connects with your target prospects and customers and relates to them in a meaningful way, you won’t get long-term results.
So, how do you go about cultivating a voice in your market? It’s a whole lot easier if you follow these 11 simple steps:
- Understand who you are and why you’re different/better
Plan, plan, plan. Before you write your next blog or post your next Facebook update, ask yourself one simple question: Who am I? You need to understand your principles, brand values, vision, and mission first. Is there something that makes you stand out from the competition? Dig until you discover the 4 or 5 key personality traits that will help you develop your voice. They need to be authentic, unique, and instantly tell readers why they should buy from you and not anyone else.
- Find your own voice
Now that you have your personality down, you have to find your own voice to tell your story. When your business communications on (and off) the Web are more authentic and better express who you are, they will be a lot more fun and interesting to your readers. To best share your ideas, you should decide such things as: what kind of words and language to use (and not use); whether or not to use humor and pictures; sentence length; what person (or kind of person exemplifies your voice); as well as grammar and punctuation.
- Forget those English rules you learned in high school
If you want to sound conversational in your Web copy, it’s okay to finish a sentence with a preposition or start a sentence with “and” or “but.” That’s how real people talk and write in the twenty-first century. And (yes, I started with “and”) that’s how you’re going to come across as sounding more personal and genuine than if you follow dusty, decades-old textbook rules.
- Don’t worry too much about offending others or being nice
Playing it safe never got anyone anywhere. If your target audience is okay with curse words, use them once in a while. If you want to voice a strong opinion on something (though it’s usually a good idea to stay away from religion and politics unless it’s important for your business), then don’t be afraid to do it.
- Be sure to understand the difference between voice and tone
Those two words go hand-in-hand and are often used interchangeably (erroneously!). Simply stated, voice is your brand personality described in an adjective. For example, brands can be described as upbeat, cynical, or inspiring. On the other hand, tone is a subset of your brand’s voice that adds specific flavor to your voice, based on such factors as your audience and situation. So while there is only one voice for your brand, there are many tones that further refine that voice, like personal, honest, or humble.
- Examine the 3 C’s of brand voice…culture, community, and conversation
According to Marketing Land, you need to identify your: Culture—What does your company stand for? What makes you stand out? What are the unique qualities that make your culture special? These should be key in developing your voice. Community—Listening can reveal how your community speaks and can help you speak easier with them and to them. Conversation—Personality and authenticity are key here. What do you want to add to the conversation? As you think about what you can offer, you’ll start to see a better picture of where your voice might fit.
- Ask the right questions
Rocket Media and Big Ideas blog have collected a number of great starters for coming up with brand voice. Here are a handful of my personal favs:
- If your brand was aperson, what kind of personality would it have?
- If your brand was a person, what’s their relationship to the consumer? (a coach, friend, teacher, dad, etc)
- Describe (in adjectives) what your company’s personalityis not.
- Are there any companies that have a similar personality to yours? Why are they similar?
- How do you want your customers to think about your company?
- Laser focus
For your voice to be unforgettable and effective, every piece of content needs you to have a single focused theme. The content has to be about one subject that you can state in fewer than 10 words. For example, this post is about, “How to cultivate a voice in your market” (8 words).
- Be opinionated and dangerous
Hubspot says that you’ll do your best writing when you feel strongly about something. Your passion has to show through in your tone of voice. The post goes on to explain that, “Readerslove a good opinion piece from someone who knows what they’re talking about. You don’t have to be unpleasant or harsh about it, but you can certainly let people know what you think. At Solamar, we’ve tried the dangerous thing before…and frankly, it got attention.
- Write in the first person
“Always write from the first person. Few things are as unreadable as a “voice” that is from some disembodied corporate entity,” states Hubspot. “People don’t want to read what a corporation is saying…They want to read whatyou are saying—from one first-person individual to another…It’s not narcissistic; it’s strategic.”
- Tell a story
People relate to stories and storytellers.People don’t remember facts and figures or even logical arguments as well as they remember stories. They also find it easier to connect with storytellers. If you really want to relate to people in a deep way, tell them stories they can relate to.
At Solamar, we are waiting to help you cultivate your voice. Talk to us to raise your voice to a whole new level.