A business truism is that prospects usually opt to do buy with those they know, like, and trust. People don’t want to feel as if they are hearing from a faceless brand; they want a flesh-and-blood feel to communications. So, you should consider the overall personality or “voice” that your business should put forward in social media marketing, brochures, etc.
However, deciding on the right voice for their organization isn’t easy for many people. In fact, in order to appeal to the broadest market segment possible or to avoid alienating some of their potential customers, some businesses yield to the temptation of creating vague or bland messages. In short, their attempts to appeal everyone or to sound “businesslike” results in their sapping their content of any personality.
Contrary to what many believe, the B2B voice can include strong personality traits. The first example that comes to mind is the web-based application MailChimp, which begins its confirmation report for email marketing campaigns I send with “Huzzah!” And that funny, slightly oddball voice is also evident in many of their tweets. I mean, how many businesses would compare their operations to a retriever eating spaghetti?
Another example is Intel’s Twitter feed, which isn’t oddball but is informative, friendly, and energetic.
It’s worth noting that when a company has several brands, each can have its own distinct voice. Also, you can ramp the intensity of your voice up or down to suit the situation (that’s your tone). For example, the web pages that explain the services and scope of marketing firm The Brian Carter Group are fairly standard, but the accompanying articles such as “7 Lessons Dogs Taught Me About Social Media & Internet Marketing” definitely show his fun, quirky side.
On the other hand, some businesses or brands may be projecting personality in their communications, but they may be erratic in the impression that they’re sending. For example, a brand may seem sympathetic and patient in its marketing materials but caustic on social media or in their customer support responses. Or it may generally project a cultured image, but use lowbrow humor or language from time to time.
While some may argue that they’re being multifaceted, what they’re really doing is being inconsistent. You may show different facets of your personality as you move from formal professional to more casual situations, but a business entity needs to stick with a particular impression. If your audience feels as if they do not know who you really are, they may consciously or unconsciously mistrust you, which will make it harder to you to do business with them.
Developing Your Brand Voice
You don’t have to be quirky, edgy or even buzzing with energy to develop a business or brand voice. I don’t have a high-energy personality, and if I tried faking that type of energy, it would ring false and/or the facade would fall apart from time to time. In order to determine what voice will actually work for your business or product, think about the attributes and values of your business culture or product brands. What adjectives would you use: friendly, helpful, authoritative, aggressive, something else? Forbes has a list of 10 questions you should ask company leaders, staff, and clients in order to determine the right brand voice.
Speaking of clients, your preferred potential or current customers are a valuable source of insight when you’re trying to determine your voice. In addition to focus groups and one-on-one interviews, you can monitor their conversations on social media as well as their interactions with your brands. What aspects of your culture do they respond positively to? Those are the attributes you should emphasize.
Once you have developed a definitive voice for your business or brand, you need to ensure that all of your marketing and communications team and all other relevant personnel also use that particular voice. Some businesses create a single sheet of brand voice guidelines while others offer more in-depth explanations and guidance such as these guidelines from CUSTOMatrix.
Clients and stakeholders will eventually assign a personality to a business based on its advertising, customer service, social media presence, the reputation of its products/services, etc. Taking matters into your own hands and developing a distinct to create rapport and a feeling of sincerity is in your best long-term interests.