One of the biggest parts of building a business website is figuring out how to communicate what your business is and does. Finding your brand voice can be a challenge, but the payoff for doing it well may be critical to your success. Bland, boring, and non-authentic brand voices are far more common than the kind of writing that makes someone say, “I’ve got to try this business!” Or, even better, proclaim their love of a company to their friends.
As Forbes notes, since word-of-mouth marketing continues to be the biggest — and most effective — driver of sales for small businesses, you can’t afford to be average when it comes to crafting your brand’s voice. So, here are seven tips to help you make it exceptional.
1. Stop writing and start thinking
Start by thinking and researching, not by writing. The first thing you need to do is define your target audience, and every business is different. An ice cream shop, a CPA, and a microbrewery are each going to have very different audiences, with very different wants and needs.
Who buys what you’re selling? You can define your target audience by whatever distinguishing characteristics apply: gender, age, median income, interests, passions, etc. This article by the Whole Brain Group can help you dig deeper into who your business’s target audience might be.
2. Consider the head and heart
Information, data, and facts — these are important components of your brand’s voice, helping you establish credibility and trust. But unless you’re in a highly technical business, too much data or industry jargon can make you sound dry and inaccessible.
In most businesses — especially those catering to the general public — a brand’s message has to have heart. Explain in clear, authentic, emotionally-rich language why you care deeply about what you do and what sets your company apart. Otherwise, you’re not giving your readers anything to fall in love with.
3. Find what defines you
“Heart” can be communicated in different ways, depending on who you’re targeting and what’s important to your brand. To help you really hone in on the right voice, pick three characteristics that define the way you want to communicate.
Are you smart, snarky, and opinionated? Are you authentic, original, and quirky? Are you something else? The company Big Ass Fans is a great example of a snarky, funny, and intelligent voice — they changed their name and became wildly successful after listening to their supporters.
4. Discover what sets you apart
You’re special. (No, this isn’t your mom talking.) There are things that are different and unique about you and your business compared to other businesses in your sector. Is your product longer-lasting, more affordable, or more convenient?
Write these differences down on paper. Communicate these differences clearly and consistently on your website, and in other marketing efforts, using head-and-heart language that suits your brand. You might be 32 percent less expensive than your competition (head), but maybe people also say working with you is the highlight of their week (heart).
5. Share your voice
You can have the perfect product or service — and a phenomenal brand voice — but you still need to get your message out to your target audience. Are they on Facebook or Twitter (or both)? If you’re just getting started, don’t spread yourself too thin. Focus on being awesome on your website, your blog, and maybe one or two social media platforms. Being where your supporters are also allows you to stay in the loop and gather feedback on what they like and need.
6. Write to “you“
Aside from their name, the word people most like to hear in marketing is “you.” This is true whether you’re selling products to other businesses or the general public. The person reading your words is a “you,” and they want to know what you can do for them. Keep that brand voice cranking, and be sure to personally address your supporters. (That’s why I’ve been talking to you — yes, you — throughout this article. Nice shirt, by the way.)
7. Define your goals
What is the goal of your web page, blog article, or social media message? Are you trying to get new fans? Establish your expertise? Get someone to download your free e-book? Your goals should determine your call to action, and the voice you choose for your brand can have a significant impact on how successful you are at getting people to engage with you.
For instance, a buy button on your site might be better matched to your business, and more effective overall, if it reads “Let’s Get Started!” instead of “Buy Now!” Similarly, the names of the pages on your website should be adjusted with your brand voice in mind. Would your supporters be more drawn to an “About Us” or “Our Story” page? Would they prefer “Our Products” or “Experience the Difference”?
Writing without knowing your audience is like setting off in a sailboat without a map or compass — you’ll certainly have an interesting adventure, but you’re not likely to end up where you wanted to go. Fortunately, inside that noggin of yours is a unique brand voice just waiting to be developed — so find that voice and help your company grow.