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?”
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.
Here are 4 ways to recognize and develop your own 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 soon 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.”
You can practice by writing in the style of characters on movies or television. Or you can create a character or persona and write from their perspective.
3 – Copy sections of writing from your favorite author.
Pick an author who has a distinctive style, such as Joan Rivers or Robert Parker. Copy out chapters of their books, line by line. You’ll get a feel for the cadence of their writing.
Notice we’re not suggesting that you plagiarize by using their content. You’re just going for rhythm and style. As you begin to write your own content, your own voice merges with theirs in a whole new way.
4 – 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.”
And two caveats about voice:
First, be yourself. 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. Find your tribe.
And you may not 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.”
Free digital training guide:
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.