It’s easy to research facts, design beautiful graphics, and put together a strategy for your client. But when it comes time to write marketing content, it’s not always easy to capture tone.
This happens for several reasons…
#1 Picking up tone is something that not everyone is naturally good at. While some people can leave a conversation with a clear image of how someone wants their brand voice conveyed, others simply have a harder time picking up on it. This requires them to spend time doing extra research and reading additional client content to get the hang of the brand through writing—time not every business owner has.
#2 Companies don’t always have a clearly defined brand voice. This makes writing content with a specific tone very difficult.
#3 Every company has a unique voice/tone style. While many writing tones are similar, every tone is comprised of various emotional, verbal, and linguistic choices. No two clients, no matter how similar, will ever have the exact same brand personality and tone.
Prospective clients often ask how our copywriting team is able to capture a company’s brand tone and personality.
It’s a dang good question to ask any copywriter you’re considering hiring.
So, we decided to share our system for how we try and nail the tone of content for our clients on the first try.
Note: If you’re writing copy for your own company, or you have an in-house copywriter, this system will work for you as well.
As a business that’s responsible for generating content for a variety of clients, we’ve learned it’s imperative, before we write one single word, to take the time to interview our clients.
In addition to inquiring about market and service offerings, we dig deeper and ask questions such as…
For clients who already have a developed voice, we ask them to provide any info they can so we can match their tone.
If you’ll be writing content for your own company, the same applies. Sit down and interview yourself or make it a team exercise.
Take out a sheet of paper and write down what you think your brand tone should be. Is it serious or sassy? Technical or easy-breezy? What words or phrases do you like and what do you want to avoid?
Once you write down all the characteristics you’d like your brand voice to embody, you can create an outline of what your tone will look like.
From there, write one or two pieces of content that include those characteristics. Heck, even a paragraph or two will do the job.
Once you’ve written a few pieces of content that clearly promote your brand voice, use them as examples as you write other content.
If you’re an avid reader of Copy Doodle (which we hope you are!), you’ve probably noticed Sūmèr’s brand is fun and a tad bit sassy.
The below example from a past blog reflects this.
If your tone is preventing you from connecting with your prospects, perhaps it’s time to get to know your audience better.
This can be done in many ways.
Here are just a few things we do at Sūmèr…
Research – Think about your target audience and then do a few searches on them. What do they like/dislike? Why do they need your product or service? Are they seeking your product for fun or because they are scared something bad with happen without it? What type of generational language do they use? There are numerous free studies online that have key info on your market. Use them.
Interview – Reach out to your prospects and talk to them. One-on-one communication is a great way to truly find out who’s buying your products, why, and how customers prefer you to communicate with them.
Your customer avatar is more than a list of struggles, desires, and personality traits. It should also provide a forecast of the future. What we mean by this is mapping out the before and after state of your customer.
Even though you’ve highlighted the struggle and shown how to overcome it, your prospects want to see the results before becoming customers.
Here’s how you do this:
The first side is the “I’m in pain” side, the customer who experiences struggles. This sketch is the most likely buyer persona you’ve focused your marketing content on.
When communicating with side 1, your website content, blogs, and email marketing will focus on…
This first half is still a crucial element—especially as you work to generate new, motivated leads.
If you’ve attracted hot leads, offered them value, and converted them to customer status, your buyer persona sketch is now lacking more details.
They’ve transitioned from stress to relief. Your customer avatar has used your services to improve their lives or businesses. No matter where your prospects and customers are in your marketing funnel, this new addition must be addressed.
Take some time to work through your customer avatar blueprint, and it will pay.
Test – Test different content tones to see which is the most successful.
Play with verbiage, whom you’re talking to, and the seriousness or silliness of your voice. Check out the example below.
Notice how the first ad speaks to the senior citizen who is worried about the responsiveness of the care staff at the nursing home.
The middle ad speaks to the children of senior citizens going into a nursing home who want to ensure their parents will be taken care of.
The third ad talks to the senior citizen, but the focus has changed.
The tone isn’t radically different, but it does speak to two very distinct audiences. Once you’ve determined what style elicits the best responses, you can continue to tweak your tone to speak to that audience.
Here’s what this might look like…
Tone geared toward the senior citizens: This may be more lighthearted and focused on fun and enjoying the golden years.
Tone geared toward the children of senior citizens: This tone may be altered to speak to the seriousness and the dangers of having a parent that lives at home alone. It may be more fear based (what if Mom falls and breaks a hip, and there is no one there) and not as light and fun.
Whether you’re creating content for yourself or looking to hire a copywriter, it’s important to find the right person to write your content.
Not everyone can get excited over content laced with numbers and technical terms. If you’re one of those people that doesn’t get goosebumps over hard data, it’s going to be more of a challenge for you to write this type of content in the right tone.
On the other hand, if you’re an expert in Dad jokes and have a black belt in sass, you may find it really easy to produce content for people with a more fun and silly tone.
At Sūmèr, we assign writers to client projects based on the writer’s skill set, interests, and voice styles. Before we even begin writing, we select who we think will be the best match for the task at hand.
It’s all about finding the right person to capture the aura of your brand.
If that person is not you, we suggest you look into hiring a copywriter that can nail the tone you’re going after or get some help from a colleague so you can nail content tone on the first try.
Regardless of whether you’re writing content for yourself or someone else is writing it, there’s going to be a point where it needs to be reviewed.
Instead of waiting until you’ve written 15 pages of content, we advise you start with one or two pages and then review the work either in person or over the phone.
This provides the opportunity for immediate feedback, and revisions can be made so the content aligns with the brand voice. Once you’ve got it down, it will be much easier to finish the remaining 13 pages while ensuring you get the brand tone right out of the gate.
This is a practice that not only helps us nail tone on the first draft, but also saves us a lot of unnecessary revision work and stress down the road. It can’t hurt, so give it a try and see if it helps!
If you’re creating content for your own business and are trying to establish a solid tone, ask your friends or colleagues for assistance.
At Sūmèr, we often jump on the phone with each other to review work and ask for feedback.
We’ve also established a copy review system so that every piece of content we create is read and revised by a co-worker. There’s nothing more valuable than an extra set of eyes on your work to catch glaring errors and tone discrepancies.
Thanks to this system, our projects often need minimal revisions.
Give this system a try.Write a few pages, and then have someone you know review them for you to look for tone inconsistencies or anything else that stands out.
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