On your marketing assets to do list: ✅Update sales collateral. Salespeople need it! Like, yesterday.
Right now, the sales team is creating emails, one-page sales sheets and slide decks on their own. You see the inefficiency, plus don’t the salespeople cover large swaths of territory?
Salespeople need to spend most of their time in the field. Not coaxing a wi-fi printer to print in high-resolution. Turning the home printer off and on when it glitches. (Oh, I remember these days well. I was a field sales representative for over ten years. Another story for another time.)
Who knows how the sales content looks when it’s presented to a customer. Oooo, you don’t want to know.
So what do you need to do? Where do you start? Let me share what’s brewing in my copywriter brain.
Develop a branding guideline
Prospective customers are getting to know your company. What does the company stand for? Not only what the company is, but what it is not. What do you want customers to think of your company? And if each salesperson is giving their own version, these muddled messages are causing distrust among customers.
To build one strong business relationship after another, sales collateral needs to stick to a consistent brand voice.
The brands that connect with their audience will be rewarded. According to the MBLM Brand Intimacy Report, consumers are open to paying a premium for brands they feel emotionally bonded to as compared to less-engaging brands.
In this series, I cover the basics of developing a brand voice and why that’s important. Already familiar? Then share with your team. Spread the knowledge. Just in case, a refresher may be useful. I’m all for avoiding confusion, and establishing a common dictionary is a good first step.
Here we go on the path towards defining a consistent brand voice. First, let’s explain the basic terms of voice and tone, the key difference between the two, and give some examples.
What is voice?
In marketing, the voice is the distinctive personality of the content. When you define your company’s voice, you express its personality, style, and point of view. Looked in another way, if you were describing the voice of a person, you would show his personality traits, his clothes and his opinion.
In business-speak, the company’s personality – the voice – is the essence of a logo or color scheme or even a business card. The voice appears in the words, visuals, and sounds chosen to represent the company.
For some companies, this voice is delivered through one person, or spokesperson, such as Flo for Progressive Insurance.
The impression in unified. Your brand voice is recognizable beyond your sales sheets – it’s embedded in your entire marketing collateral. When done successfully, voice is conveyed consistently among all your brand content (online and offline).
For example, take a look at a website featuring the least populated state east of the Mississippi River, Maine. I was fortunate to live and work in this locale, the most northeastern state in the United States, for six months. If asked to describe the experience in one word, I’d answer, wicked.
Maine is known for its lobster and ample coastline. So, of course, the website shows lobster. Its personality is the opposite of ugly and urban. The brand descriptors are coastal, outlier, scenic, and vacationland.
Strong brands have 2x the number of customers who are open to paying 20 percent more for the company’s products and services.MBLM Report (h/t to MarketingProfs)
What is tone?
When described in writing, tone means expressing attitude. It’s an inflection based on feeling. Think of an actor portraying a character – good actors convey a character’s feelings and judgment. Tone conveys the writer’s mood and emotion.
A father says to his daughter, “I don’t like your tone, Amanda.” What he’s stating is, “I don’t like the attitude you’re giving me.”
The copy’s tone originates from the writer. The writer is reflecting his or her feelings. And those feelings are communicated to the reader.
For example, I recognize my daughter’s voice. It’s distinct to her.
Let’s say she’s mad at me. During our conversation, she expresses anger, frustration, disgust … in other words, “she’s giving me attitude.” And her attitude is tone.
The tone varies among marketing copy, whether you’re writing a welcome email, sales sheet or an “I’m sorry” customer service letter. A company may have a friendly voice, but the tone could be excited or calm depending on the conversation.
What’s the difference between voice and tone?
Voice is stationary. But tone changes. Tone shifts depending on what feelings you’re communicating.
One exception to this rule: My mother. You might expect a little bit of chaos if you were raising 5 children and, at any one time, three were between 13 to 18 years of age. Think about it – THREE TEENAGE GIRLS under one roof.
When I was growing up, we had one ivory push-button phone. It was located where family members tended to congregate: the kitchen dining room. I remember arguing with my sister about borrowing her clothes. (Full disclosure: I may not have asked her permission.)
Our fighting escalated. Mom was tired from a long day working at the office. She stomped her foot and yelled, “Take the fight outside &%@!”
Just then, the phone rang. Mom picked up the phone after the second ring. Her good friend was calling. Mom said sweetly, “Hi, this is Joan. Oh, good to hear from you.” She sounded calm, happy, unruffled. Notice how her tone changed?
She smiled and continued to talk calmly to her friend while giving us a mean look. She was so good at the quick-change artistry of tone.
What is your company’s brand voice?
The personality of your company – the voice – can differentiate you from your current competitors or the startup who will be your fierce competitor in a few years.
But the trick to outshining the competition?
Know what your brand personality is. Then consistently broadcast this voice everywhere your company exists: website, blog, video, podcast, brochures, product literature, social media, presentations, email signature, events … everywhere.
If you know the voice of your company, great! Put it in writing and share with your content creators and communicators – in-house and outsourced.
But if you can’t articulate your company’s voice to your team, then you need to do some homework to define its personality. In the next article, I’ll share key tips on how.
Photo: “String Telephone Necklace Set” image created by Metalspeak (via Etsy.com)