Feeling like your content is missing the mark a bit, but not sure why? It might be that the voice and tone behind your content is inconsistent. As B2B tech marketers, you have a lot to manage and work on every single day and chances are that developing your authentic voice is not something that you really have put a lot of time or thought into.
Whether you’re a marketing manager on a team of one (been there) or leading a larger team of designers, writers, and SEO gurus, it’s super important to develop an official brand voice that sounds and feels like your brand. The way you write affects how your B2B technology brand is perceived and how your audience interacts with your brand. If you're stuck on creating your authentic voice, here are 12 tips on how to develop the authentic voice for your B2B technology brand.
Tip 1: Work with your team
You’ll want to interview people from your team that have different roles and experiences in the company. We recommend a variety of roles so that you have a good mix of feedback - from leadership to sales to customer service and even engineering.
Alright, “interview” may not be the correct term here, but the point is that a brand’s authentic voice can’t be created in a vacuum. It’s great to get the perspective of people outside of marketing so that you can hear things like how customers describe their problems, how sales describes your product, and how leadership is driving the direction of the organization.
Tip 2: Talk to your (best) customers
Want to catch the ear (errr.. eye) of your ideal customer? Write in a tone of voice that connects with them - like using the kind of language they use and that is aligned with how your team will interact with them.
Tip 3: Don’t hold back your personality
A sure-way to make your content sound “off” is if you’re really sanitize the personality and feeling out of your writing. Authenticity really matters in branding - make sure your writing and brand materials have the authentic feel of “you.”
Tip 4: Do some exercise(s)
Get the blood pumping and creative juices flowing with your team by getting together, huddling around a whiteboard and brainstorming how your brand’s voice should be perceived.
It can be as simple as having everyone write down ten adjectives to describe your brand (e.g. quirky, professional, honest, etc). From there you can work together to whittle that list down to 3-4 adjectives that describe your brand.
Tip 5: Create buyer personas
Buyer personas are so important for creating marketing campaigns and offers, but they also matter for branding! By thinking about who your content is created for you’ll be able to use language that connects with your readers.
Tip 6: Embrace empathy
By writing in a tone that is empathetic to the pains your audience may be facing your content will be much more authentic and personal and less “salesy.” Remember that at the end of the day people do business with and buy from people they like AND who have a solution to their problem(s).
Tip 7: Audit the competition
Take a look at your competition and analyze what their voice sounds like and identify areas that you can differentiate against them.
Tip 8: Develop content standards
Content standards are critical when you have multiple content authors or people that contribute to brand and marketing content. When developing content standards you’ll want to define things like what type of language you use and even things that sound silly, like how you write out dates and times (December 1 or Dec. 1; 12/1/2017 or 1/12/2017; 12:00 pm or 12PM, etc) are important. Consistency is key when it comes to your voice.
Tip 9: Create a reference guide
Once you’ve defined your voice, you’ll want to create a way to communicate it to the team. Yeah, you’ll probably want to put that together in a nicely written long-form document, you also should document it as a quick reference graphic. Your reference guide can take many forms, but a simple one-page chart is a good benchmark.
Tip 10: Identify your yes's and no's
Yes, I had to look up how to pluralize “yes” and “no.” Yes, I also think this looks like a typo.
Your yeses and noes are simply a list of words you want to say or not say, how you want the brand to be perceived and a guideline for what type of language to use in writing.
Tip 11: Know the difference—“voice” vs. “tone”
While they work together, voice and tone are have a few differences. A brand’s voice is how your personality is translated in messaging and written content. Voice shouldn’t change, but can evolve over time. It’s the character of your brand.
Tone is much more fluid than voice. A brand’s tone is more like an attitude and is constantly evolving based on what type of communication you are managing, the medium and the overall nature of the communication.
Tip 12: Revisit your brand voice over time
Your brand voice isn’t really created once and left “on the shelf” forever - it should be adjusted and adapted over time. Revisit your voice and content standards at least every six months to make sure that it is still aligned with your overall brand strategy.
Rethinking your content strategy and brand voice as part of a website redesign project? Make sure you do it right! Check out our infographic on how to improve your B2B Tech Website: 11 Quick Ways to Improve Your B2B Website