How you communicate your marketing message is referred to as the tone of voice you use. The words you use on your website, on your products and in your documentation and marketing collateral literally define how people perceive your business.
In other words, writing is branding and your tone of voice guidelines are as important as the logo and typeface you choose.
Finding your tone of voice starts with understanding who your audience is and choosing the right language to reach them. It might be professional, casual, or even funny, but in order to establish an emotional connection that will lead to your audience trusting you and buying from you, you have to communicate in a way that they will believe.
This is not to say that you should just go ahead and copy what has been done before in your sector. Not at all. Brands that break the rules are the ones that people remember. It may seem a risky strategy to find your own unique voice, but surely it’s not any riskier than being ignored?
So, how to go about defining the right Tone of Voice for your business?
You should think about a range of words that best suit your brand. Try to assess the personality of your business as if it were a person, just as you may define a certain friend as ‘witty’ or a colleague as ‘enthusiastic’. Use as many descriptors as you wish, but three is usually the magic number to help you stay focused. It often helps to combine what a brand is with what it is not. (Professional but not dry and corporate. Casual, but not lazy and messy.)
Vocabulary is simply a choice of words, so you must ascertain what type of words can and can not be used within your tone of voice so that your content embodies the ‘personality’ of the business. What kinds of words are definitely required and which words are forbidden? Keep it honest, consistent and accurate.
When you feel you have nailed it, read your words out loud:
When you have found the right words you need to define a writing style. Keep in mind who you will be writing for. If it’s for other businesses, you may want to use a professional-yet-approachable tone, whereas if you’re writing directly to a customer you may desire a fun-and-exciting voice.
One way to go about it is to emulate an existing publication. What does your audience read? The Financial Times? The Sun? Novels? Use a spectrum to get an idea of where you want to sit. From humorous to serious, formal to casual, or inspirational to straightforward.
While not appropriate in every situation, you’ll be surprised at how frequently a story can replace mundane text. Storytelling allows you to present information to your customers that resonates with them on an emotional level.
Read my short blog on storytelling here.
Go through examples of what hits the mark, and be thorough with editing and proof-reading. Ideally get someone else to proof read it too. And, as with absolutely everything related to branding, make sure to choose a tone of voice that you can keep consistent across every single marketing channel.
What am I saying?
What do you think I am saying?
What do you hear?
What do you think you hear?
What is actually being said?
Most of us spend large parts of our days communicating. And we’ve done so since the day we were born. But no matter how old we get, and no matter how skilful we get at many different things in life, communication is one skill that most of us never seem to master all that well.
Whether it is communication with your target market, your boss or your friends and family, here’s a few tips to make it easier to communicate in the most effective way possible.
The 10 Cs of communication
When writing or speaking to someone, be clear about what you want to communicate. Make sure that it’s easy for your audience to understand your meaning so they don’t have to make assumptions on their own.
When you’re concise in your communication, you stick to the point and you keep it brief. Your audience doesn’t want to hear or read several sentences when you could communicate your message in one.
In a complete message, the audience has everything they need to be informed. All relevant information, like names, dates, times, locations, etc. need to be included.
When your communication is coherent, it’s logical. All points are connected and relevant to the main topic, and the tone and flow of the text is consistent.
Your communication needs to be tailored to your audience. All technical terms need to fit your audience’s level of education or knowledge. In writing, make sure there’s no grammatical errors and that all names and titles are spelled correctly.
When your message is concrete, then your audience has a clear picture of what you’re telling them. There are details, but not too many, and there’s a clear focus.
You communication needs to be friendly, open, and honest and you should always try to keep your audience’s viewpoint in mind.
Your message should highlight your credibility. This is especially important when communicating with an audience that doesn’t know much about you.
These tips are not about storytelling but you should still keep your audience engaged by talking or writing in such a way that they want to hear and understand what you want to communicate.
10. Confidence Check
Never take for granted that your audience gets your message. Just because you know what you’re saying doesn’t mean that your audience will understand you....
So.... Did I master number 9? Did you make it ‘till the end...?