Open any blog or resource that talks about content marketing. Attend any seminar on the matter. Speak to anyone who knows what they are saying on content marketing.One thing will be familiar to all of them: the mention of tone and voice.
While they can be used interchangeably sometimes, though, they are surely not the same things. In a broader concept, the tone is a subset of voice. That, again, makes the voice of your content marketing campaign a critical find.
Sadly, not every marketer has a voice attached to their content marketing yet.
That’s what we hope to change today.
Why Find a Voice?
If your content was read to someone in your target audience, would they know it was you behind it? If your logo were obscured from the screen, would your readers know that they are interacting with your content?
Your content marketing voice would need work if you answered in the negative to any or both of the questions.
Human beings have a voice to them, and you can easily recognize who is speaking without even looking. While the members of a family can have related voices, the chances that the voice in that line will be the same as that of another family is very slim. Thus, there is a high measure of uniqueness to them – based on the voice model alone.
This is why you need to find a voice too.
There are millions of contents being put out on the internet daily. No one has the time to sift through all that content, but your audience will comb through till they find yours. Provided you have found a voice that resonates with them.
That is why the top brands in the world can always get their message across to their audience, even amid all the noise.
For example, Nike has found a fusion of excellence and play, and they put that into their voice. Look through any of the content that they put out, and you will find that right.
Apple takes things a notch further, embodying their products in their tone of voice and content. That is why you see their message come off as crisp, smooth, simple, and fluid yet premium.
All of these brands did not get there in one day, though. If it makes you feel any better, they are continually reinventing and refining their unique voices to appeal to the audience at different stages.
The best news of all is that you can do it too. That is what this guide is for.
Finding Your Voice
No matter what form of content you are putting out – from text to videos – you have to maintain the same voice all through. That way, you gain consistency and always call out to your audience, no matter how noisy the content mills are.
The brands that have gotten it right have all done one or more of the following:
1. Search Internally
The first place to look is on the inside.
What does your brand stand for? What kind of products and/ or services are you offering, and how would you like them to be perceived? These are essential questions to set you on the right track in determining your approach to a voice pattern.
It is easy to see the brand one way from the marketing angle only. You should know that you are not only appealing to other marketers like you, though but the general audience. Thus, it would not hurt to run an internal survey to determine what other employees in different departments think of the company.
Do they see their brand as one which is hip and youthful? Are you more on the technical side? Do you excel with wit, humor, and a relaxed voice? Let others within the company answer that for you.
Since your colleagues and other employees can also be tied back to the company online, their opinion matters. It would be great to adopt an appealing tone that also matches the energy of the other employees when relating to the public. That way, your content is not saying one thing, while the brand body language is saying another.
2. Embrace Community
After internal checks, external factors are equally important.
Scout for the conversations involving your target audience to see how they discuss with one another. Look out for the dominant voice in their interactions, and see how they react to it too.
While you should stay original, you can do so while deferring to their preferred voice instead..
For example, Tesla does not necessarily market to those that can afford luxury items. Even though their cars look like something out of a science fiction movie, that is.
However, they market to those who care about the environment. They want to attract the young and chirpy who would like to stand out. Tesla is also out for those who cannot resist change, the new wave of technology, and a touch of class on top of that.
So, what did they do?
They employed a series of less technical, less jargon-y approach to marketing their products. Instead of focusing on the industry-changing battery approach and the science behind it, they prefer to show you all the cool things the car can do for you.
All that, and you already have the environmental benefit at the back of your mind.
Even the company’s CEO takes to his social media page to create content in that carefree, fast way that the target market loves. Guess what? It works for them. That is what you get when you speak the language your community understands.
3. Have a Personality
In the race to get the perfect brand voice, we have seen many brands lose their voices. Ironic!
Know that there is nothing like the perfect brand voice. There is your voice – and there are the others.
Pretending to be that you are not does not bode well for anyone. If you execute it right, it puts too much stress than should have been on you. In the long run, you might end up losing your uniqueness in favor of living up to a copy.
Should you get it wrong, you are outed as an imposter. Your authenticity starts going down the drain, and you won’t know what voice to stick to anymore.
In short, it looks terrible both ways.
That is why your voice should always have a hint of personality in it.
Talk to the audience like you would address a single person. Forget about the fact that you could have thousands of readers/ viewers on that piece of content. Have in mind that you have created that piece for one person – and make it worthwhile.
What do you want people to feel when they finish reading your content?
You should know this: what you put out has a lot of impact on people's emotions. We have covered that extensively on our emotional marketing series so that you can check that out for some additional reading.
There should be a purpose to your brand voice. That is why you are there in front of the audience in the first place. Your tone should carefully follow that, and then the persona that you want them to see.
With that, you can directly elicit desired emotional responses in the audience every time with the same voice, different tonalities.
Brands spend top dollars on creating the ideal brand voice and sticking with it. When they finally get this voice, they are never scared of losing their messages in the multitudes of many anymore. Now, they are confident of reaching their audience anywhere, anytime.
Becoming one of such brands is not tricky, but it takes effort too. Following the 4-step guide above will get you there also.
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