I have worked in the world of marketing for many years* and still find there are phrases used by marketers that sometimes need a little more explanation.
One phrase I believe is important to understand the meaning of is ‘tone of voice’.
So, what does your tone of voice actually mean? And why is tone of voice important to your business marketing strategy?
[*Yes, my first computer was actually a typewriter!]
Tone of voice explanation
In short, tone of voice is the message you are sending to others about your company.
Imagine it as the first impression you send to your customers, suppliers and competitors.
That’s quite a big deal, right?
So, I want to discuss why this is an important element of the jigsaw to get right, and how to add this to your marketing masterplan.
If you don’t know what a marketing strategy is, first read my blog post “WHAT is a Marketing Strategy & WHY is it important?”, then come back to this article.
Reflecting your values in your marketing
When I work with my clients on a marketing strategy, we find your true purpose and the reasons why you love what you do.
Finding these values really helps to align the tone across the business, and to resonate with your ideal customers.
Without first knowing your company values, it’s almost impossible to clearly represent your tone of voice.
When you’re running your own business, the tone of voice needs to be considered in all of your communications, verbal or written. When you think about the vast range of copy and language used within your business, you will start to understand the importance of getting it spot on.
Everything from your emails, website, social media posts, product or service descriptions, and promotional materials has written copy. If you do not have a professional Copywriter working with you, it is important to align yourself with how to create a consistent message within your in-house team.
Likewise, if you have a large team, they all need to convey a consistent tone of voice when they are speaking to your customers directly. Face-to-face appointments, phone calls and meetings are all opportunities to create a lasting impression through your tone of voice.
Having a marketing strategy is essential to conveying your message to all staff members, so that the goals and messages are communicated clearly.
Different styles of tone of voice
As all companies are different, their tone of voice will be too. There are many different styles and combinations of potential tone of voice. Some styles include:
· Bold · Empowering · Educational · Caring · Thoughtful · Legislative
· Conservative · Casual · Playful · Witty · Uplifting · Professional
· Edgy · Friendly · Funny · Ambitious · Serious · Smart · Sarcastic
The list goes on, but choosing the right tone of voice for your company is essential. This choice will be dependent on what your business does, who your target audience is and what impression you want to make.
It may be that you choose a combination of the different tones, for example you want your company to come across as educational but friendly.
Why is the tone important to my marketing strategy?
So, you may be thinking ‘How does this affect my marketing strategy?’.
It’s important for many reasons, to name a few –
- Resonating with your customer through your language
- Being seen how you want to be perceived (e.g. professional, friendly, approachable)
- Reflecting the quality of your product or service
- Create coherence in your company values and team
If these aspects do not work in synergy with one another, you will be sending a confused brand message to your potential customers and it will have a negative impact on your marketing.
If you are focusing your time on driving traffic to your website, or gaining social media followers, but the tone of voice is inconsistent, it will put people off and ultimately lose you sales. Or it could be that your tone attracts the wrong type of customer who will then not buy from you.
A bad example of a tone of voice positioning would be for a Healthcare provider to have a sarcastic tone of voice. This would instantly create a barrier and distrust between them and their customers.
The tone is important is to build trust between your business and your customer. If that is not an appropriate relationship, people will not want to use your services or buy your products.
How do I achieve a cohesive tone of voice in my marketing?
By aligning your tone of voice before you produce new content, you can make sure your brand values are at the core of your marketing. This will help you to convey a clear message.
In summary, the tone you choose will be personal to your own brand. To help make this decision, think about putting your customers at the forefront of your mind. Ask yourself what would be most appropriate to attract your audience?
Once you have this understanding, every time you produce content or speak to a new client ask yourself “Does this message align with our values?”. If yes, that’s brilliant! If no, go back to the drawing board and try again.
If you work as a Solopreneur or in a small business, the tone of voice will be easier to create consistently as it is more likely to come from you directly.
Within larger companies, it would be recommended to limit how many people are responsible for producing marketing materials or have a sign-off process so that the tone is kept consistent. It can be problematic if you have too many people working on the copy, as the saying goes “Too many cooks spoil the broth”.