Businesses today have more ways than ever to connect with their customers. Traditional methods like radio and television are still effective, but now, they can reach out to potential customers in their own homes through channels including social media, email, video and SMS messaging.
And if you can do all these things, so can your competition. That makes standing out amid a sea of competition a little tough and stellar customer service a must.
Building a strong, distinct brand image–and a voice to go with it–is more important today than ever. At the same time, your brand is more vulnerable.
Finding the right tone
The difference between success and failure could well depend on how well you tailor your message to the right people. Almost every product has an identifiable primary target market, and those are the people you really need to focus on.
Whether we realize it or not, we tend to place more trust in people who are similar to us in some way. This extends to how we engage with marketing and on social media–we’re more likely to feel positively about a company talking our own language, run by people like us.
Consider the characteristics of those most likely to buy your product–the way they speak, the things they like–and try to fit that into the way you communicate. Millennials, for example, might prefer a youthful, conversational style, while older generations may appreciate a more formal, informative tone.
And don’t hesitate to check out how other companies in your industry are doing things. Competitor research is a perfectly valid business practice.
Keeping the circle small
Once you’ve defined your voice, you need to consider who’ll be doing the speaking. Will it be you, one of your employees, a dedicated social media and marketing manager, a hired freelancer, or whoever happens to be logged in?
The smaller the scale, the tighter the circle should be.
Big businesses have no choice but to employ a whole team to deal with social media; they receive so many tweets, comments, complaints or other interactions that it’s too much for one person to cope with. Too often, the resulting experience for the customer is impersonal, with real relationships difficult to establish.
Smaller companies have an opportunity to seize an advantage here by letting one person–or if necessary, a very small team–deal with everything.
An individual can more easily develop a consistent, easily relatable style in all of their communications. Furthermore, because they’re doing it all the time, they’ll get to know those interacting with them as people and have a better shot at enticing influencers and brand evangelists.
Choose the right person for the job
Making the right choice can define whether your social media and marketing presence is a success. It’s incredibly difficult to pretend to be youthful, serious, funny, cool or whatever else you’re trying to be. Marketers talk about authenticity and rarely define it. Authenticity is being exactly who you want your customers to think you are.
You can’t fake relevancy. You can’t fake caring. #getrealchat
— Pam Moore (@PamMktgNut) October 11, 2016
In the fast-paced world of social media, a business wanting to develop a very specific type of voice is better off giving the responsibility only to individuals who naturally interact in that way.
For example, if you’re aiming for an irreverent, playful, youthful style–like Innocent drinks–don’t ask your oldest, most serious employee to do it.
— innocent drinks (@innocent) October 6, 2016
Similarly, if you’re aiming to have a more serious, information-centric social media presence, avoid giving the job to the workplace clown who can’t resist turning everything into a joke.
It’s very difficult to convincingly come across as something you’re not; more often, it just looks like you’re trying too hard.
Language shortcuts: Are emojis appropriate?
Emojis have come a long way since their “birth” in the 1990s, when they were more commonly known as smileys or emoticons. Originally used in chatrooms and text messaging as a language shortcut, emojis have found their way into the mainstream.
And it’s not just individuals using them; businesses are putting them out there, too.
Expressive little smiley faces have an infectious quality–they tell us how we’re supposed to respond to a piece of writing, and often we do as they say. Given that coaxing an emotional response from a potential customer is a key part of effective marketing, emojis could be gold dust.
If your target audience uses them and they suit your email, SMS and social strategy and posts, it’s well worth giving them a try.
But if your target audience doesn’t use them, or if you’re attempting to convey a more serious, informative message, emojis are best left out. You risk coming across as unprofessional or childish and doing more harm to your image than good.
Chances are your marketing strategy will extend across many channels. You’ll interact with your customers via SMS, social media, emails and on your own website. You may even speak to different types of customers via different media, and that’s where maintaining consistency can be tricky.
Keep different types of customers in mind while creating new content. You may have chatty Generation Z customers on Snapchat who like clever graphics, but if your email list is populated by investors, you’ll need to provide more serious news.
To sum it up, building a remarkable brand voice is simple: Be consistent, and always talk in the same language your audience uses.
Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, Fla., currently suffering in the suburbs of Orlando. She is a science geek, a social media junkie and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon. Follow her on Twitter: @SheriSaid.
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.