More Like “Howdy”, Less Like “Hi”
How does your content “sound” to prospects?
Voice is particularly important because content marketing strategy lassos multiple kinds of media towards a collective goal. Individual bits of content need to sound like they originate from the same source (your brand).
Sprout Content highlights some reasons why voice consistency is important, including “biggies” such as:
- Do people like you?
- Do people trust you?
- Will people buy from you?
So, how do you start?
How to Keep Your Voice Consistent
Audit first. You’ve already produced content. Is there a theme? Or does it sound scattershot? Sometimes, how you say something is more important that what you say. Selectively decide what content stays, what content needs to be rewritten, and what content simply needs to be eliminated.
Action Step: Make a spreadsheet of existing content on your website, blog, and other media. A first pass through each piece asking “Does this sound like us?” works wonders. Unsure? Eliminate it.
Be human. “Corporate-ese” sucks. Your voice should sound like a real person. To find the right pitch and tone, consider your audience first. How do they talk to each other? What are their shared aspirations, goals, and experience? Lingo? Content produced by a skateboard company sounds different than that produced for a retirement home.
Action Step: Create a style guide for all contributors to follow. Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web, recommends a table that establishes overall tone. For example, writing tone should sound “more like” this and “less like” this.
Be loyal. Hiring the same team of writers can go a long way to keeping a site fresh, yet consistent. Each writer has their own voice. Yet, working in concert a team of writers can establish a brand’s overall voice.
Action Step: Find contributors you trust. Then, ask them to recommend others in order to build your team. Hire an editor to ensure all content conforms to your established style guide. Remember, these roles do not have to be permanent hires; many writers prefer contract arrangements. Consistency is key.
Smart brands intentionally communicate to their customers using all senses. Start by clarifying your brand’s voice. You never know: if some developer geeks get their way, internet “smell-o-vision” might be next!