If you have spent any time at all thinking about marketing you’ll probably have heard people talking about ‘tone of voice’ and maybe you have wondered what this is.
Well wonder no more dear friends for in this post I am going to tell you what tone of voice is and how to choose yours.
What is meant by ‘Tone of Voice’?
Tone of voice is a concept that lives within the world of marketing.
It simply means how you speak to people through whatever medium you are using.
Tone of voice will be different depending upon what type of company you are, who runs it, the type of customer you are speaking to and what you are trying to convey.
A good analogy is thinking about speaking with your peers or your grandmother.
You use a totally different way of speaking.
Your phraseology is different, how polite you are changes and the words you use also differ.
You’ll use a different tone of voice if you are imparting technical knowledge as opposed to say writing in a lifestyle magazine and in fact, if you ever consider writing for people they will often tell you what tone of voice to use.
Tone of voice – some examples.
I thought I’d take 3 examples of different types of tone.
The first one is for a well established bank.
Barclays has a wealth management arm and this snippet is from one of their web pages.
“Whether you want to grow your wealth for a retirement income or a legacy to pass on to future generations, we can help you set goals and try to achieve them”https://www.barclays.co.uk/wealth-management/wealth-planning/
Notice that the tone is neutral, professional, not overly ebullient. There isn’t a lot of technical jargon and there are certain phrases that shy away from being overt.
So instead of saying “we aim to make you more money than other people” They say “we can help you set goals and try to achieve them“
Now compare this to a website aimed at IT professionals
“Archive Shuttle leverages the latest ingestion technologies within its Advanced Ingestion Protocol (AIP) to achieve speeds that are dramatically faster with a lower failure rate over traditional EWS methods of migration to Microsoft endpoints.”https://www.quadrotech-it.com/archive-shuttle/
This language is very different.
They need to establish their credentials and they do this by talking the language of their target market.
I have no idea what Advanced Ingestion Protocol (AIP) is but it sounds impressive.
Of course the website isn’t aimed at me, it’s aimed squarely at people who are looking to migrate large amounts of data between locations.
Here’s my third example
We’re thrilled to be able to serve you once again and are ready and raring to help you with your online orders. Our Customer Care team are on hand, and very happy to chat you through our product rangehttps://uk.lush.com/article/your-questions-answered
This is from cosmetics firm Lush.
Make no mistake, they are just as keen to sell you stuff as Barclays and Quadrotech but the way they speak is as if they are your best friend.
They may be a multi-national but they are adopting a friendly, happy, positive tone that you could hear down the pub or in the gym.
So how do you choose your tone of voice?
The million dollar question!
The first thing to consider is your company.
Is it just you? one or two of you? 500 people?
The way you speak may change dependent upon the image you want to convey.
Think about your target market
Then think about your target market, what do they expect?
If you are talking to buyers of cosmetics would you use the same approach as Quadrotech? In other words, would you go into technical detail about what ingredients are in the soaps or would you talk about how it feels/smells/looks?
Then think about how your target market talks amongst themselves.
Do they use a lot of TLAs (three-letter acronyms, see what I did there?).
Are they highly professional, mums, teenagers, middle aged men?
Check out forums, message boards, Facebook groups etc, and just watch how they interact.
Adopting the language and mannerisms is important for people to like, or feel invested in your brand.
Then have a look round at websites you like.
Are there any that stand out?
Do any particular brands shout at you “This is how you should speak”?
Finding good examples of tone of voice that you think would work well is probably the best way to choose your own.
Finally think about how you are going to communicate.
Some TOVs work better in some channels than others.
In short if you have a young audience, a cool product and you are using instagram as your primary channel then this will heavily influence your tone of voice.
Using the same tone on LinkedIn may not have the desired effect!
The best tone of voice is the right tone of voice
When I start working with people to define their marketing plan they often ask what is the best tone of voice to use.
There is no simple answer.
If we think of the three examples, none of these is ‘better’ than the others, they are all examples of successful companies speaking to their customer in the right tone of voice for them.
And this is the important point.
The right tone of voice can be as individual as a fingerprint.
You need to be comfortable with it, your staff need to be comfortable with it and more importantly, your customers need to be comfortable with it.
So there you go.
All you need to do now is to choose how you want to communicate and make sure the same tone of voice is used across all of your marketing channels!
If you would like some help with tone of voice then give me a shout. I’m a nice guy honest and having a second pair of eyes usually saves you a lot of money in wasted copy!