“People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you make them feel.”
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and the way they spoke to you turned you off completely? Maybe it was an arrogance in their tone, an undercurrent of scolding or blaming, or an attitude of nonchalance or disregard. Whatever it was, it negated everything they may have said. In fact, you may not even remember what they said.
That is because people respond to how you make them feel. Voice and tone are often mentioned in marketing seminars and there is a difference between the two.
Voice in writing refers to the personality and perspective of the writer. It can be a child’s voice, a critic’s voice, a senior voice, etc. But tone is the emotional attitude that comes across as sarcastic, compassionate, judgmental, etc. Tone in what you write is just as important as when you speak. While voice might describe your company’s personality, tone, on the other hand, is the emotional inflection applied to your voice.
Why it’s important
Tone is important because it helps build a connection with your clientele. Customers want to be emotionally connected to a company or brand in a way that makes them feel that the business cares about them. A caring attitude towards your audience can encourage them to interact with you more, giving you a chance to offer them a solution to their problems.
Strong, well-crafted marketing materials, blogs, websites, etc., with a consistent and appealing tone can help build trust with your audience. When your values are expressed with a consistent tone through all interactions with the company, your company’s revenue may be increased. Marketing surveys indicate that the average increase in revenue attributed to presenting a brand consistently, is twenty-three percent. So, the tone in all of your written and spoken materials should be consistent for all communication, including websites, social media, emails, packaging, direct mail, annual reports, statements and invoices to customers and even instructions and helpdesk resources.
Define your tone:
The tone you choose depends on the product you are selling and who your clientele is. Do your customers need to feel they can trust what you are saying? Do they need you to have deep knowledge and expertise of the product they are purchasing? Do they need to believe they can depend on you to provide consistent service once they make the purchase? By choosing the right words, you can present your company as being trustworthy, compassionate, experienced, dependable, or efficient. It all relates to your product and your clientele. Ask yourself what qualities you would be looking for in a provider if you were buying the product you sell.
One way to define your company’s tone is by looking at how and why your company was started. What were the values of your founder? What is your current mission statement? What’s the reason your company came into existence? What is exciting about it?
If possible, get other people in your company (and your clients) to join in and look for commonalities in their answers. Ask also what your clients need most in a provider? Your sales staff should already know the answer to this. Turning this into a collaborative process may encourage all employees to use the same tone when dealing with customers, vendors and each other.
Ask them what three to five words best describe your business identity. Describe each in a sentence or two. As your targeted market and competition change, adapt your voice’s tone. You are looking for something that is consistent and authentic across all levels or your company, both on and offline.
Apply it to your materials
Some companies create a voice or tone chart to clarify exactly the message they want to send. It illustrates what to say and what not to say and applies to all staff, from receptionist to marketing to direct sales staff.
For example, if authenticity is one of your values, describe what this means. It might mean “we are going to give the customer what he most needs and wants, even if it is not our product.” Then a few do’s and don’t to further define it. Do be honest with clients, do keep your word, do own your mistakes, don’t oversell or make false promises, etc. do this with each of your four or five values.
Once you’ve identified your brand’s tone of voice, maintain it. If your brand’s tone of voice is nurturing, make sure all of your communication has that effect. If you want to show how highly professional your company is, make sure your marketing language is poised and polished. Again, all the things you write, say, promise or represent should be consistent.
Remember, tone is all about connecting to your customers emotionally. The writing, regardless of the media channel, should sound like a conversation rather than an ad. Make it natural and appropriate. What you’re aiming to achieve is a natural rapport with your audience that enriches your relationship and enhances their trust and belief in you.