Your brand's voice is your voice too. I'm not necessarily talking about your physical voice, although this can certainly be part of your image. But I want you to think about how you "sound" online.
You Probably Already are Your Brand's Voice
If you are a sole proprietor or small business I have news for you: your voice is your business and/or brand's voice. There isn't another Friedman Group,LLC out there doing exactly what I do. If by some crazy coincidence there is, I can assure you it doesn't sound like me, either in person or online. This is because my business is unique to me, and if I'm successful, to my clients.
This isn't by accident. I created my online voice to ensure I'm different from any other Brad Friedman who might be out there assisting clients with inbound and social media marketing. You should do the same, whether your brand is your business or an actual product with a specific name.
Think of businesses big enough to designate a spokesperson or create a character to represent them in media. It can be a lizard with an Australia accent or an accident-prone duck (think insurance giants). Every region has at least one guy on TV talking up his car dealership. Local TV stations can't seem to showcase their news "crews" often enough. These characters are the brand and they have distinguished themselves as such.
Let Your Online Voice Be Unique to Your Brand
"Don't sound like everyone else," says the Content Marketing Institute. I couldn't agree more. It may not be easy to determine your non-speaking voice, CMI agrees, but there are ways to help you decide. Think about how you project yourself to your customers:
- Doctors and some lawyers want to be reassuring and offer helpful, general (very important!) advice like how to quit smoking or why people should establish a will.
- Sometimes a more aggressive, "I'm on your side" tone is appropriate. Patients want this from oncologists and clients from their defense attorneys.
- Business owners may want to sell empowerment or relief from a problem. "My service will get you ready for a half-marathon," you might say, or fix your car right the first time.
What you want to project is how you and/or your business will solve you prospect's problems. Keep in mind it's not unusual for a lead to not know they have this problem until they hear your Brand's voice.
So how do you do this on the web, in writing? Some of it comes down to your customers. If you're a B2B (business to business), you can use industry jargon because these serve as useful keywords. You must avoid jargon, though, if you're a B2C (business to consumer), which is more challenging if you're used to writing for fellow professionals. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Journalism and media expert David Spark recommends reviewing your inbox and see what customers are asking about. I suggest you should also read the news feeds on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages and Twitter account. Your customers' words may well be useful keywords to include in your content.
- As you write, think about how you speak to customers. Make sure your tone remains friendly yet helpful and professional. Be sure to define terms which may not be familiar to everyone, particularly if you are a B2C.
- Keep your sentences reasonably short. CMI says a good rule of thumb is to read aloud. If you can't get a sentence in in a single breath, it's probably too long.
- Also think about pronoun use. First person is probably better to use when referring to yourself or your company.
- Remember: content shouldn't be about you but the customer. Use second person (you) as you talk about your solutions for them.
Image is Everything When It Means Your Business
Remember Andre Agassi's mildly amusing Canon ads in which he said "Image is everything"? This is very true when it comes to your business.
Use images with your communications. Tweets with attached images get as much as five times more engagement. But, as Social Media Examiner reminds us, to make sure the images on websites and used in blogs and articles reflect well on your business.
Use images consistently which fit your style. It's probably not a great idea to go for shock value, as this can easily misfire. Instead, think about what image you want to project: an alternative way to address a task, a healthier lifestyle, financial stability, and so on. Just be sure you only use images with permission; better yet, take your own photos and attach a copyright notice.
Finally, take a look at your website at least twice a year. Make sure links work, and think about if it's time for a makeover. SME recommends reviewing sites for these stylistic basics:
- Uniform placement of your logo. Most logos appear on the bottom right of a page or advertisement.
- Consistent use of fonts and colors wherever you can control them and don't use more than three fonts. This also becomes part of your branding.
- Use templates as signature filters to support your brand and style.
All these things, and more, come together to establish you brand's voice. Recognizing this allows you to plan you marketing and business strategies with precision.
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