What’s your first thought when you hear the warning: Watch your tone? If you’re thinking about some misbehaved teenagers, you’re not wrong.
However, teenagers aren’t the only ones who should watch their tone. If you own a business of any kind, you should especially watch your tone.
Everything you publish under your business falls under this category. All your business writings, the website, the newsletter, e-books, all external communication should be polished to fit the appropriate tone. Especially the blog, if blogging is your business.
But why, what is it, and why do I need it?
Why is the tone of voice important?
To sell whatever you’re selling on the Internet, you need your words to speak the right way to your audience. The words you choose speak for you before you ever get the chance to. So you need them to be wired exactly right for your customers to buy your service.
The average time a reader spends on a blog is about 96 seconds.
You don’t want to lose potential buyers because your words rub them the wrong way. Read on to learn how to avoid that.
What’s a tone of voice?
Have you ever heard that there are more ways to do something right? The same applies to writing. We can express the same idea in different words.
Human beings are a creative species. We’ve designed our languages to be full of subtle meanings.
The result is that you can have lots of ways of saying the same thing.
Except, it’s not quite the same.
The tone of voice isn’t about what you say. It’s about how you say it.
It’s about all the words you choose and how you arrange them to say a certain thing.
It’s not the same saying:
This is the best industry-leading blogging guide that will sky-rocket your blog into 5 top paying blogs and place you in the top-tier level of passive income marketers.
The blogging guide offers tips and tricks on how to grow your blog to make money.
While talking about the same thing, these two examples don’t read the same way.
You’ve guessed it; the tone is different. The result of a different tone is a varying impression of the readers.
Example A uses a technical tone, which is highly confident, if not boasting. The result is that it over promises and may leave readers suspicious and unfazed.
Example B is more down-to-earth. It uses an understandable, albeit a little too neutral, tone. Depending on the readers, it may just work.
Why do I need a well-defined tone of voice?
There’s a ton of people with similar ideas fighting for the customers. Naturally, the audience will choose those who appeal to them the most.
That doesn’t mean you need to stray from your values or sound like someone else.
Quite the opposite, you DO need to sound human to your readers. It’s only about striking the right balance and walking that tightrope! It doesn’t sound easy, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll use that tone of voice like a knife through warm butter.
Here’s how we find the difference between good writing and writing with a reasonable tone of voice.
Any blogger can produce decent articles that communicate a message.
But whether your writings keep the audience come back for more depends on the tone of voice you’re using.
Did you win their hearts? Did you strike the right balance between the technical delivery and creative input that keeps them tickled and inspired?
If you did, then you already have returning readers, and you’re accomplishing your mission. That’s what tone of voice is all about.
Imagine a situation in which you use a specific tone of voice and win readers who keep coming back for more, but then you switch the tone of voice and potentially lose those readers.
It happens more than you think.
And this has nothing to do with changing niches. It’s strictly about speaking to readers differently.
How do I define my appropriate tone of voice and stick to it?
This process isn’t much different from creating your brand’s content strategy.
Content strategy is a complete list of values and content guides to keep your brand on-point and consistent. While content strategy keeps changing as the seasons and the market demands, you’ll change your tone of voice to fit the content strategy accordingly.
Bearing in mind you already have your blog business plan nailed down; you may proceed with these steps:
1. To find and define your tone of voice, you’ll need to know who your readers are and create buyer personas. I’ve written an article on creating a buyer persona – give it a read!
Imagine speaking to a grown-up as if you’re talking to a child. That wouldn’t work unless your goal is to make them think they somehow clicked their way through the rabbit hole.
2. Think about what your buyer persona needs and what drives them.
Do they need inspiration, information, a combination of both? Are they knowledgeable, and you need to treat them as such? Or are they complete beginners?
3. Create a set of values that you have in common with the buyer personas.
Depending on the values you choose, you will adjust your tone of voice. Is it boldness, integrity, honesty, accountability, learning, or something else? These will inform your tone of voice.
4. Steps 2 and 3 will inform your TONE OF VOICE guidelines.
Ideally, you’ll come up with adjectives that all your business writings need to reflect. It could be: friendly, informal, informative, approachable, professional, or anything that fits your audience’s needs. You’ll keep those guidelines somewhere where you can find them quickly and take a look at them from time to time. If you work with more people, you’ll share the guidelines with them.
5. Stay consistent across all channels of communication.
And there you have it. It’s not that hard, and if you follow these five steps, your readers will be safe knowing what to expect from you. You can excite them with the content you’re sharing, and they’ll come back trusting in your voice and content.
Now, watch your tone and get those readers coming back for more. Cheers, friend.