Content is King, But Voice Matters, Too

Jul 18, 2018 8:32:00 AM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

You know the importance of content in marketing, but have you examined your company’s voice – the way you come across to your audience?

I think this topic falls under the scope of whether you create communications that are company-centered or audience-centered. The goal is the latter, but it’s difficult. You devote countless hours and dollars to developing marketing messages – for the web, events, webinars, presentations at networking meetings, trade shows, the works. You want to court and win over your audience. Frequently, though, marketers focus on what they deem vital to pass along. They want to make sure their buyers, supporters, volunteers, etc. understand how their organization stands out from competitors, what makes their organization excel. I’ve often heard, “Our audience needs to know all that we’ve accomplished. Right?”

Not necessarily.

The “voice” that generates the best results is the one that focuses on the audience – be it readers, listeners, or attendees.

With the options available today, prospective buyers first need to like you. To be drawn to your organization’s personality and giving nature. Only then will they consider whether you possess what they need to succeed, whether you’re a suitable partner, a solid match.  

So while you’re brainstorming, strategizing, planning, and executing all those marketing messages, give some thought to your style and tone. It plays a big role in the getting-through-to-people process.

Here are a few examples:

Get Personal. A few years ago, a manufacturers' rep in the furniture/design industry wanted help launching an email program. The business owner was surprised when I pushed him to share what led him to design his own line of furniture in addition to the other lines they carried. We were going to announce this new endeavor; it seemed logical to me to share the story in a personal way. One other point of interest is that the products are made in Chicago, where the company is located. This choice says a lot about the business owner. The response to the first email? Very high open and click rates, along with calls from a number of architects and interior designers who wanted to learn more about the company’s custom furniture.

Give Ideas Freely. The newsletter template for a consultant who specializes in the household, industrial and institutional market needed a bit of a facelift. In addition, I suggested we add an introductory message to the format. In this short space we included a recommendation for a leadership/management book as well as an idea the consultant typically charges for. This mindset stems from what my 9th grade English teacher taught us: “Show, don’t tell.” Shortly after release of his January newsletter, the consultant forwarded an email to me. His note read, “This newsletter works!” Beneath his note was an email from a contact he met several years ago, who reached out to re-connect and invite the consultant to speak at an upcoming industry event.

If you’re open to taking a close look at how your company comes across in its messaging, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How would you describe your voice? Formal and corporate? Playful? Informal? Personal? Is it a style and tone you want to convey?
  • Is your voice inviting? Does it encourage your audience to call, write, engage online and, ultimately, say yes to your offerings?

Granted, there are certain industries where it’s difficult to have a strong personality in your communications. We work with a few of these industries; I understand the limitations. But there are many opportunities to liven up your voice -- in an impactful, maybe at times even heartfelt or humorous way. This will often start or accelerate the process of getting your audience to buy in to the possibility of working with you so I highly recommend it.

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