As a small business, you may not even think you have a ‘tone of voice’, but if you want to be perceived the right way by your customers, it’s time you gave it some thought. Here are 5 easy steps to help you find a tone of voice that is professional and reflects your business personality.
Step 1 – Think about your audience
Who are you hoping to sell your product or service to? Get a notepad and pen and note down everything about them.
Are they male or female, or both; professional or young? Start with the most obvious objective facts about them e.g. ‘Male 30-55 years old, in London area’ and then think about the type of job they might have and other factors e.g. are they time poor? Will they be stressed or calm when they look for your business service?
Step 2 – Think of your audience as individuals
Now you’ve identified who your audience are, consider their lifestyle, how can your product or service improve their lives?
Think about how busy they might be, or how value for money may be their priority if they have a family. Here are some questions to get you imagining the lifestyles and preferences of your audience:
- He/She shops for groceries at…
- He/She wears…
- He/She lives in…
- His/Her favourite magazine is…
- His/Her perfume is by…
- His/Her favourite activity would be…
These are just theoretical questions and your answers may not be right for all of your audience, but it’s likely by thinking about these things you will connect with them.
Step 3 – Imagine your own business as an individual
Develop the Tone of Voice for your business by listing three characteristics that you want to come to people’s minds when they think of your business.
My brand is _________, __________ and ___________ (for example ‘warm, helpful and creative’ / ‘luxury, efficient and intelligent’).
Tip: Remember to think of your brand as a person and describe them rather than use phrases like ‘technology’ or ‘vintage’ that describe your services.
Step 4 – Keep those characteristics in mind
Write down the three qualities on a post it or have them at the front of your notebook so you can see them and have them in mind when you’re writing. That way when you’re writing your website copy, a blog post or even just a tweet you can refer to these qualities and you’ll know that what you’re writing reflects your brand.
Tip: If you ever find yourself typing an update with lots of exclamation marks or question marks, ask yourself if they are adding anything. Remember that there are other ways to convey enthusiasm:
e.g. ’Check out our amazing deal of the day!!’ Vs ‘ You’ve got until midnight to get our deal of the day’ or ‘Our ever popular deal of the day is back and stocks are being snapped up!’
Step 5 – Stay human & stay you
Over formal business writing is as bad as over colloquial – try to stop yourself from sounding unnatural by asking ‘would I speak this way in a meeting with a customer?’ Lastly but not least, remember not to be a robot, unless of course your audience are robots too!