Getting Your Voice Right in Content Marketing
May 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Writing marketing content isn’t as simple as putting your thoughts on paper. Even after you’ve figured out what your audience wants and what you should talk about, you need to figure out what your voice should be like.
Plus, you want a different tone of voice for say, a press release versus a tweet, even if it’s the same person writing both or the same team working collaboratively on the press release and taking turns at the Twitter account. How do you ensure you come across as the voice of the brand as opposed to the person you are?
Step one: what’s your blogging persona?
The first step is to lay out what your brand sounds like (even if it’s just your own personal brand), and if it sounds different in a press release versus in a tweet (if it doesn’t that’s okay—just make sure that’s right for your audience and you’re still playing to the strengths of both media. For my money, I’d prefer to see a press release that looks like a bunch of tweets than a tweet that looks like a line off a press release.)
Put together the “author persona” of each type of content. Basically, ask yourself what kind of person they presumably are:
- Are they reserved and conservative or loud and bold?
- What are their interests? Not just in real life, but what are their topics of interest to write about?
- What’s their way of approaching content? What’s the unique perspective they offer?
- What kind of words would they use? Think of adjectives like meaningful, actionable, wacky, gross, totally.
- Would they use shorter sentences or longer ones?
- Would they be more likely to use exclamation points or semicolons (or both)?
Step two: wear that persona as you write.
There are several ways in which you can do it, depending on who’s writing your content.
If you have one person per voice, that becomes easier. For example, on this blog, I’m the snarky irreverent one with the outsider’s perspective. Kelly is the measured voice of reason who comments on the juxtaposition of marketing and design. Mel is the creative guy, Ken is the experienced CEO who talks about the company’s vision and highbrow stuff like that.
But I don’t bring the snark to work when I’m writing an email announcement to our customers: then I put on the more professional “company” voice. So if you’re one person working on different pieces of content that require different tones of voice, spend a few minutes when you begin writing putting yourself into that persona.
Step three: edit out anything inconsistent with your brand voice.
But writing within a persona is tricky, and sometimes you won’t get it right in one go. This is when it’s important to distance yourself from the piece and come back to it with a fresh perspective. Then review it with a critical eye towards the tone of voice. Think back to step one and the characteristics of your brand voice: is what you’ve written consistent with it?
If you have someone to review your work, or if you’re editing someone else’s work, it’s a bit easier. Kelly has sometimes pulled me back from being profane, and I’ve warned her when I think she’s encroaching on my turf by being snarky herself. But don’t edit out the edginess: that’s what makes your voice unique.
How do you make sure you’re using a consistent voice in your marketing?