I’ve been there. You’re staring at a sea of white on the screen, ready to write, and you’re just not sure how to get your message across. The problem may be that you haven’t really nailed down your brand’s voice and it’s holding you back.
After all, a consistent brand voice is essential to the first step in achieving your content marketing goals: getting your brand connected with your visitors to start building relationships.
The good news: it’s not as hard as you might think to identify your voice and start genuinely connecting with your audience.
Here are five questions you can ask yourself to help define your brand’s voice and start making those lasting and profitable connections:
1. Who are you and who is your audience?
Don’t try to discover your voice. It already exists. You need to identify and then be consistent with what your existing voice is. Examine the culture and atmosphere of your business to get started. Is yours a serious industry that’s all business, or do you work in a space where it’s okay to cut loose and have some fun? This should be reflected in your brand’s tone when creating content.
Obviously, your audience is the visitors you are trying to attract with your content. Eventually, you want these visitors to become customers. So, who are these people?
Try to picture your ideal customer, the kind you’d love to have 100 or 1,000 more of. Now, pretend you’re talking to that person when you’re writing. Mirror your offline business personality to get your online voice to shine through.
2. What mindset is your audience in when searching for your content?
Think about the frame of mind someone reading your content is likely to be in and speak to them appropriately. Every day we use different tones in face-to-face conversations depending on the circumstances.
Your voice and tone for your online content is no different. You want to consider the mindset of your visitors and what an appropriate tone for your content is. Just like in face-to-face conversations, people will expect a certain tone of voice that fits your business.
3. What vocabulary do you use?
Think about the words you craft your content with. Are they formal, casual, scholastic, conversational? This will largely be defined by your audience. Think about how they want to be spoken to. If you sell surfboards, you shouldn’t be writing scholarly articles in APA format. And, likewise, if you’re creating content about cancer research, don’t refer to your visitor as “dudes.”
If you’re creating content for a niche, use the words and even slang specific to that niche. Speak your audience’s language. Don’t be afraid to establish authority in your space by demonstrating you can “talk the talk.”
4. Do you know of brands or bloggers that you like THEIR voice?
I’m not suggesting here that you try to copy someone else’s voice. What I am saying is that if a piece of content really speaks to you, it’s usually because it’s speaking your language; using your voice. Studying content you enjoy will help you identify your own voice.
— Lab3 Marketing (@Lab3Marketing) June 22, 2015
Once you discover what resonates with you, look deeper to identify why. Is it because it’s easily digestible? Does it present relevant facts in an interesting way? Is it witty and entertaining? All of the above? Recognize what you enjoy and then try putting your spin on it to see if it fits your voice.
5. Do you have a favorite piece of existing content you created?
Go back through content you’ve written/produced in the past and see if you have a favorite piece. Then analyze what you like about that piece. It probably just feels right. Most likely, you’ll find that piece stumbled upon your true voice without meaning to.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, go through all your writing. Even if you don’t like the whole piece, I bet you can at least find at least one sentence or turn of phrase you do like. By doing this – let’s call it journalistic forensics – you can ferret out a bunch of examples you like and can build upon.
There’s a lot to think about when identifying your brand’s voice. The process may seem overwhelming. I get it. My advice: start small, but start right now. Pick any one of these five questions and sink your teeth into it.
Maybe make a list of blogs you already enjoy, then read a post and try to identify their tone and why it works in your mind. Or, start looking through your old content for some examples to help guide you along your way. Again, just pick one and get started.
Answer one question a day, and in less than a week you’ll be well on your way to finding your brand’s voice. And once you do that, you’ll be empowered like never before to connect with your visitors and build great relationships.