What is “tone of voice?”
I remember as a little girl, I first heard about it from my dad. “Don’t take that tone of voice with me!” The message was clear. If I pushed it, there would be unpleasant consequences.
I didn’t take that tone of voice with him very often. But I admit that phrase produced a negative response in me.
But in marketing circles, “tone of voice” is viewed in a much more positive light. When I work with B2B clients, I ask if they have TOV guidelines–otherwise known as “tone of voice.”
A TOV guide helps a writer understand the company’s “personality type.” It matters.
If Harley-Davidson is known for its rebel ways, then you don’t want to use a formal tone in your copy. Or a sweet, sentimental tone.
Instead, you’ll use words that convey rugged individualism, freedom, and nonconformity. Using the same tone of voice in all your marketing materials will strengthen your brand–and make you unforgettable.
So, the answer to what exactly is “voice” or “tone of voice” is this: It’s simply the personality of your business brand.
It could be irreverent and a bit rebellious, like Harley-Davidson. Or imaginative, like The Walt Disney Company. It could be authoritative like Charles Schwab & Co., or playful like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
Your brand’s voice will be directed by whatever brand archetype you choose.
You wouldn’t expect Harley-Davidson, for instance, to run a commercial which shows a man and a woman perfectly dressed in evening clothes, riding a motorcycle together while exchanging romantic, lingering looks with one another, right? Something would seem “off” about it.
That’s because Harley-Davidson has already forged their brand archetype and voice. Their brand is about freedom and fighting authority. Breaking expectations. Living life by your own rules.
Such a “voice” doesn’t match a romantic image. This is what you need to think about as you create your own unique voice.
Why Developing Your Voice Is Necessary
Go to your computer and do a search for your “profession name + name of your city.” Visit some of the websites.
Now tell me, do any of them sound different? Look different?
Or do most of them look and sound the same and have the exact same services?
Put yourself in the shoes of a business owner who is searching for a new professional service provider. What would cause her to stop in her tracks and say, “Whoa. They sound different. Who are they?”
That is why it’s so critical to develop your own unique voice.
I know what I’m proposing might sound completely alien to you. It might make you even feel a bit uncomfortable because after all, what you do is a “respectable” profession, and you shouldn’t have to be bothered with all this marketing mambo-jumbo.
But trust me. Your prospective client is searching for this. They want to do business with a partner who understands their needs but also realizes they have hidden desires, and they’re yearning to do business with a company who “gets” them.
Years ago, a firm’s competition was someone down the street. Now the competition is all throughout the country and even overseas. In addition, more technology has rendered many tasks unnecessary.
Consumers have access to more information than ever. But are they making the right choices with the information?
How Developing a Voice Will Help You
One of the most helpful decisions you can make to improve your marketing almost effortlessly is choosing a brand archetype and nailing down your voice. It will help you avoid a common mistake many business owners make (and a rather simple one to easily fix), which is a lack of consistency.
Consistency is the secret to effective marketing. No matter what you do, you need to give your marketing ideas a chance to breathe. Trying a particular method once or twice isn’t going to get you the results you want.
And effective marketing starts with being consistent with your brand’s voice.
It’s like developing a new relationship with someone you just met. If you met that person at a networking event and they were light-hearted, fun, and a true original—then met them for coffee and they were withdrawn, introspective, and serious—what would you think?
And if you saw this person’s personality change drastically every time you connected, you might question the person’s mental health. You know something’s not right when a person is acting out of sorts. This is especially true if you know someone for a long time and then suddenly, they start to act “unlike themselves.”
When you develop your own brand voice, you are demonstrating consistency and people trust consistent action. When you tell people what you’re going to do—and then do it—it creates authority.
Take the time to develop your own voice and your prospects and clients will be appreciative. They’ll know what to expect from you and in time, they’ll trust you.
A Strong Voice Qualifies/Disqualifies Prospects
Communicating consistently with a strong voice in your marketing not only builds trust, but it will also qualify (and disqualify) the type of clients you want to work with.
I know a copywriter who is deliberately abrasive. His “voice” is irreverent and a bit curmudgeonly. He even openly admits he hopes to discourage certain prospects from contacting him.
Every marketing piece he creates is written in this voice and clearly communicates the message that he isn’t the type to coddle a client. He has a very specific way of doing business and the groundwork is laid from his initial emails.
When you have a strong voice, it will be like a siren call to those who love that style and a bug repellent to those who are annoyed by such types.
And that’s what you want.
Why sift through prospects who “might” be a good fit (and turn out not to be) when your marketing copy can do it for you?
This is a great benefit from developing your voice. When you take the time to choose a specific brand archetype and create your own unique voice, you are essentially drawing a line in the sand. You are saying, “I want to work with people who understand what I’m saying… those who resonate with my message.”
And those who are attracted to such a voice realize you’re the one they’re looking for, the one who might finally understand their needs. It also allows them to get a taste of the type of business you run and prepares them for how you operate.
Create trust in your brand. Demonstrate consistency in your delivered service. Set clear expectations that are met.
It all leads to clients who know what they’re getting, like what they’re getting, and trust what they’re getting. This leads to long-term relationships, repeat customers, and referrals. This is the reward for those who develop a strong brand.
A partial excerpt is taken from the book, The Maverick Advisor: The New Rules of Marketing for Financial Advisors and Consultants – Get Great Clients, More Respect, and the Fees You Deserve, by Mary Rose Maguire.