What is Tone of Voice?
Tone of voice is about how your business resonates both with prospects and customers in all forms of communication. This will include the spoken word, at presentations, when making a pitch, in videos or when dealing with customers in person, or on the ‘phone, for example.
This is the same for written words that describe your business in brochures, flyers, your business website, your social media channels, letters to customers and much more. And, it’s not always what is said, though content is important, it’s often the impact that’s made by the way you say it.
You might be tempted to wonder whether all of this is a load of old flannel! But, before you run away with the idea that you don’t need a tone of voice that ‘sings’ for your business, it’s worth making the point that your business will already have a tone of voice. Without focus, however, that tone is likely to be flat!
Messages from any business that hasn't adopted a tone of voice to fit their brand are likely to be inconsistent one prospect to another. Most important, such a business could be losing opportunities because of poor resonance!
Here are 6 tips to think about and implement:
1. Your Tone of Voice Begins at Home
Once it is decided that a specific tone of voice should be adopted – and this to be in tune with your business brand guidelines – you can begin the process of implementation and the discipline of ensuring your tone of voice sounds consistently throughout.
It is essential that all forms of communication within your business and from your business work collaboratively and in harmony. In so doing your staff (if you have them), your prospects, your customers and followers, your suppliers and onlookers will experience a congruous resonance.
2. Your Tone of Voice Sets You Apart
The development of your tone of voice should play an integral role in your whole branding process, your overall strategic plan and how your business is to be positioned to appeal to your target market.
Resonance with the audience relevant to you and what your business does will win interest and buying customers. It will also help prevent a diversion into sectors of the market that are not suited to you and your business, thus saving valuable time and other resource.
Moreover, your business tone of voice is ultimately what will set your business apart from your competitors. Customers may wish to buy from you and your business simply because of your unique approach, the values they share with you or an experience they have had with your business previously.
Few businesses, if any, can be ‘all things to all men (and women)’, to quote the ancient missive. Your business too will always do better when its market is properly identified, defined and effectively targeted. Your business tone of voice will play a key part in this targeting process.
3. Your Tone of Voice is … Yours!
People buy from people. How many times have we heard this? Personality is key.
Social media platforms provide all the evidence we need, if evidence were needed, that people like to associate themselves with personalities, ideas and ideals and brands. People become loyal followers too.
However, It would appear that things have moved on from yesteryear when there was appetite for gloss, pizzazz and even façade. There is a preference now for the real, the open, the authentic – the you! It is to these attributes people want to align themselves.
The tone of voice of your business should carry and communicate these character qualities too if it is to be successful in developing a modern following.
4. Your Tone of Voice – Cutting to the Chase
No business can operate without words. A 2017 Forbes article states that Americans see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. The Guardian reported in 2005 that Brits are likely to see 3,500 marketing messages within a 24-hour period. This will no doubt have increased 13 years on.
Every day we are met with words. But how many of them are just clutter? How much of this marketing noise do we buy into? Of all the messages we see what is it that makes us follow the call to action?
Certainly, a key element for success will be a clear tone of voice. This must be the case for your business too. Your customers need to hear your voice above other competing voices.
Your voice, which says what you do, which sets you apart from the competition and which presents the real, the open and the authentic 'you' must enable your customers to cut to the chase.
5. Your Tone of Voice Conveys Authority
How well do you remember your days in school? Which of all the teachers you listened to inspired you the most. In my case it was Mrs Korman.
With a clean blackboard (yes, this was when dinosaurs roamed the earth!) and a piece of chalk at the ready, Mrs Korman would open up the world of early 20th Century world history.
Soon there would be outlines of countries on the board with all sorts of other illustrations, dates and quotes from political figures, movers and shakers of the day.
Of all the lessons of the week, for me, History was the most engaging. Why? Because Mrs Korman had a style and voice all her own and she was animated and passionate about the subject she knew and loved so well.
The same can be true of workshops and conferences. Like me, however, I am sure you have experienced presentations so dull that watching wet paint dry would bring relief! Why? Because unlike Mrs Korman, beyond mere sound, there was no voice, no passion. Instead just information, facts and statistics.
Speakers who are memorable, and by virtue of them being memorable, help us to remember the information we need to take away with us.
Often when at a workshop or conference the information we want to learn and take away is that for which we have paid good money! For us to get our money's worth speakers need to be engaging. Speakers we remember are animated and passionate, lively and often funny. As a result, they carry authority and belief.
Your business supplies products or services to a target market that needs to experience that sense of authority and belief too. This will be, in part, what convinces customers to buy.
This authority and belief will be carried in your tone of voice. So, when you’re next at a trade show, a business expo, a networking event, giving a presentation or making a ‘talking head’ video, remember how important is your tone of voice.
6. Your Tone of Voice – before, or instead of Communication Face-to-Face
How do you convince your target market about your business and about its products and/or services before you meet customers face-to-face, or in circumstances when you don’t physically meet customers at all?
It may come as a surprise to learn that prospects will get to know your business long before they think of contacting you and before making a buying decision.
Research shows that prospects will be between 70-90% of the way through the purchase process prior to engaging a vendor. Research also shows that the consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase.
Your prospects will be evaluating you and your business at your website, your social media channels and your advertising materials where your tone of voice is of paramount importance.
How Future Point 4 Business Can Work with You and Your Business Tone of Voice
Where are you up to with your business brand and tone of voice?
At Future Point 4 Business we can meet you at any stage of your business brand development journey and help you to implement a brand strategy with a tone of voice that will resonate with your target market.
Sources: Forrester, Nielsen (as reported by Forbes), Forbes, The Guardian
Author: Phillipe Avery
Founder Director, Future Point 4 Business