Monday, September 28, 2020

You, Only Better: Capturing the Right Voice in Your Written Marketing Content

"I want this marketing content to really communicate who I am and how I feel -- only in better words."

I get that all the time, and it's a very smart request. Many a crestfallen business owner has to come to grief trying to reconcile colloquial-sounding speech with written text. That's because written English simply doesn't work the same way spoken English does, which is also why some of the wittiest, most entertaining speakers I know couldn't write their way out the proverbial paper bag. Me, I'm the opposite. I'd much rather write than talk. I'm not the worst speaker in the world, but every time I stand in front of an audience and give a presentation I keep wishing I could just email it in. Writing is my comfort zone. I'm weird that way. Fortunately for my career as a copywriter, I'm not in the majority.

If we were to write the way we express ourselves in everyday speech, the resulting content would stink up the joint. Go ahead, give it a try and see what happens. Expect uncoordinated, stream-of-consciousness banter peppered with pauses, unfinished sentences, "Ums," "Uhs," and other literary gems. Trust me, you probably don't really want to sound like yourself in your writing. You just want to read like yourself.

What does that mean? It means that you have to use words and phrases that read as if you were speaking to us, when in fact the text is much more tightly organized, effectively worded, and compellingly presented than something that just flew out of your mouth on the spur of the moment. You have to conjure the illusion of your voice without actually replicating it. The result? The voice that resounds through the page or monitor evokes your personality, humor, concern, humanity et cetera, but through language that works on the page instead of the stage.

Consider, too, that your brand may have a distinct voice of its own, one that may or may not sound much like yours. Even if your own values, vision, and personality make up a large part of your branding, the brand itself may need to project a somewhat different image than the one you might present when speaking to an in-person audience. You may need to pull off a bit of a ventriloquist act by couching your message in the words and tone of that "character."

Not sure what form this aural illusion would take? Try reverse-engineering it by putting yourself in the place of your ideal buyer. Now picture that finished web page, article, sales letter, or brochure in your mind as clearly as you can. Imagine how you would like your words to read. Is the tone professional or homespun? Is the message concise? Does every word contribute to the cumulative impact of the whole? Ask yourself, "How would I say this if I were the world's greatest marketing writer?" That's you -- only better.

Of course, it's equally possible to err in the other direction. Many business owners focus on making their marketing content sound as slick, sophisticated, or technically savvy as possible because they think their audience expects it. Unfortunately, the final result may convey a great deal of information at the cost of a naturally persuasive tone. You have marketing content that's all content and no marketing.

What's the easiest way to manage this delicate tonal balancing act? Engage a professional marketing content writer who can understand both what you want to say and what your audience wants to hear. Then let that professional bridge the gap with writing that really gets your message across!