Every one of us is familiar with tailoring our voice to meet the expectations of any particular circumstance – chances are, you yourself are master of many voices, ranging from refined, polished eloquence to the sort of voice you’d never use in front of your mother. Think about it; if you were to sit at a conference table among professional peers, would you presume to speak as you would, say, later that evening at happy hour with your closest friends? The answer is no (at least, I sure hope not). Linguistic expectations play an essential role in all interpersonal experiences. Why should your marketing be any different?
Much like everyday life, the way that you connect with people will one day determine the nature of your future interactions with them. You simply have to apply the same guidelines that you naturally follow in your own life to your business. More importantly, your company’s identity ought be one that your target consumer wants to do business with. The goal is to assure your customer that your company is worthy of a lasting relationship, and that relationship begins with your voice. The unique identity that you create for your company is a self-sustaining machine, really. If you devote considerable time and thought into its development now, you’ll surely see a handsome return on your investment. If it’s done correctly, anyway.
We’ve already discussed the all-important preliminary questions that you should ask yourself when developing your content marketing strategy: Who are my customers? What are my differentiators? What the heck is my company about? At its core, the concept of inbound marketing revolves around the natural impulses of your target consumer. Your goal, with everything that reaches your buyers’ eyes or ears, is to make a connection.
First and foremost, the voice that your company assumes must be developed with your ideal customer in mind, which is where those buyer personas we spoke about come into play. Put yourself in their shoes. How would they want to be spoken to? What would they be most likely to listen to? What would best catch their attention – and keep it? But what’s equally important is to also consider the contrary: What might they not understand? What would they not want to hear?
With everything you write for your customer, be sure to consider the limits of their knowledge and experience in your field. Every business provides a service or product to someone, but it’s important to remember that the reason they come to you is because they are unable (or unwilling) to do what you do for them. With that said, it’s best not to be too jargon-y in your delivery; your blogging voice has to be calibrated to your audience at all times, with all of those preliminary questions in mind. Would decreasing (or increasing) formality set you apart from your competitors? Would your passion and competence in your field give you an edge? Is there a need for greater clarity at the consumer level in your industry? All of these types of questions are worthy of consideration, because they all lead to one final question: Does your voice accurately represent your company’s guiding principles?
Let’s take an example. Imagine you’re filling out new-patient paperwork in a physician’s waiting room, either X-ing out or passing over the boxes on one of those standard symptom checklists. But, instead of the usual Chest Pain, there are boxes for Pectoralgia, Thoracalgia, Pleuralgia, and Pleurodynia.
What? What even is this? This checklist would be an exercise in frustration – and an incredibly time-consuming one, since the average patient would have no idea that those all happen to be different types of chest pain (can you imagine how long it would take to stop and Google every one?). But it would also tell you something about the doctor that you’re about to see – he’s entirely incapable of putting himself in his patients’ shoes, or perhaps he only wants to see new patients who are doctors themselves. Whatever the case may be, I know I’d sooner put my health in the hands of a doctor who does know how to communicate with his patients.
You don’t want to be the pretentious and aloof doctor-of-doctors; you want to be the people’s doctor. Whether you’re the only person who writes for your company, or there are multiple contributors, you need to establish guidelines to ensure that your company maintains a consistent written style – one that is an accurate representation of what the heck your company is about, and one that your customers will naturally turn to for years to come.