When you’re getting ready to share a marketing story, one question that often comes up is, “How do I cultivate a distinctive tone and style? I want to sound like me!”
The truth is, your voice can become part of your brand, whether or not it’s a deliberate choice.
Your voice comes through on your website, sales letter, email messages, and blog posts. But you often notice it more when you’re getting ready to tell a story.
At the same time, when you’re cultivating a strong brand image, your storytelling voice can inspire you to create a stronger message. The way you tell a story often comes closer to the Real You than the way you promote an idea or share facts
Here are 3 ways to recognize and develop your own storytelling voice.
1 — Look at your email messages and identify your most favorite and least favorite.
Which ones do you enjoy? Which ones set your teeth on edge so you keeping thinking, “I really should unsubscribe…”
You’ll most likely see a pattern.
Do you resonate more with down-to-earth, conversational, straightforward messages? Or breezy, super-cool messages with lots of offbeat metaphors and strong language?
2 — Practice writing as a character.
Writing for AppSumo, Neville Medhora built his style around the Sumo logo — the big Sumo wrestler cartoon. He created a character who was fat, brash, and politically incorrect. He kidnapped people to convince them to give the “Sumo-lings” a better deal.
So Neville could write playfully, “I currently have Drew Houston of Dropbox tied up in the trunk of my car…..and won’t let him out till he gives the Sumo-lings 85% off a year subscription to DropBox.”
Here Neville’s brand inspired his voice — and vice versa.
You can practice by writing in the style of characters in movies or television programs. Or you can create a character or persona and write from their perspective.
3 — Listen to the voices of your favorite clients.
Are they breathless or thoughtful? Do they speak slowly or a mile a minute? Do they have accents? Do they tell a lot of jokes? Punctuate their conversations with colorful language?
Skip the stereotypes. Some people over 50 — and over 70! — swear like sailors. Some young people — and young sailors — speak in thoughtful, measured tones and frown on four-letter words.
What phrases come up repeatedly in their conversations?
When asked, “Did you just get back from downtown?” they might answer, “I sure did!” or, “I did,” or, “You betcha.”
Here are 3 tips to find your voice (even when you’re not sure you have one):
(1) Be yourself, not somebody else.
Not everybody likes the light-hearted, breezy, funny copy laced with words I can’t use in an email system. Most audiences respond well to humor, and most aren’t thrilled with somber pessimistic tones. But some will favor a “just the facts ma’am” style and others will want you to embellish with personal touches.
(2) Don’t be sure you recognize your own voice.
recognize your voice out of context. More than once, a client has asked me to please incorporate a specific paragraph, word-for-word, into a sales letter.
Every time I’ve followed instructions, they’ve come back with, “Where did you get that paragraph? You’ve got the tone all wrong! I’d never say that.”
(3) Your strong message is more important than your voice.
When you’ve got a strong message, your readers and listeners aren’t paying a lot of attention to your voice. They’re so intently focused on “What’s in it for me?” they’re not noticing the package. They just hear “benefit….benefit…REAL benefit.”
Learn more about how stories can help you create a unique identity and stand out from the competition:
Build Your Standout Brand By Telling Stories: 4 Case Studies
Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective to develop your brand and your writing voice. My one-time Power Hour consultations help you find answers without committing to long-term coaching or copywriting. Click here to learn more and sign up.
Originally published at https://cathygoodwin.com on June 7, 2020.