You don’t need to be told how vital it is to put out a steady stream of content in order to support your inbound marketing strategy and attract prospective customers into your pipeline. You know the importance of content, but so do your competitors. With so much noise online, how do you make sure that your content sounds different from the other messages out there? By properly understanding brand voice and working to make yours interesting and unique, that’s how!
Your brand voice should have a clear and distinct tone that helps your content cut through the clutter. Keep reading for tips on how to effectively differentiate your brand voice and set your company apart.
Make Your Marketing Voice Human
Too often, more technical marketers can become overly concerned with the metrics of content. Things like keyword density, backlinks and traffic are all important metrics, of course. But stuffing your content so full of optimizations that it sounds like a robot wrote it won’t lead to qualified leads!
Traffic matters little if you aren’t successfully converting that traffic into leads. If visitors come to your content through organic search only to find a muddy wall of keywords providing no actual value, they’re going to navigate away to find more useful content.
Think about how you speak to your existing customers, friends and coworkers about your business. Do you tend to use a more academic and informative tone? Do you lean toward explaining things simply and trying to be approachable? Do you prefer to be on the cutting edge, interested in the latest trends?
These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself as jumping-off points for an effective marketing voice instead of being solely concerned with shoehorning keywords and links into your content in a way that comes off as awkward and disingenuous.
Keep Your Brand Message Concise and Accessible
Research shows that only 16% of people read every word of text they come across online, while the vast majority of web users skim content, especially when it comes to advertising and marketing content. It makes sense that users will start to tune out messages unless they’re hyper-relevant when you consider that on average, we see anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 advertising messages daily.
When we encounter a message that stands out, it’s typically because it’s relevant to our needs or interests and it lets us know exactly what’s being offered pretty quickly. When writing brand messages for marketing and advertising, you should think like a journalist rather than a novelist. What does your reader need to know and how can you quickly hook them?
Furthering the case for simplicity and concise language is the fact that most people simply don’t have the reading skills you might expect. 43% of adults in the United States have “basic” or “below basic” literacy skills. If you’re using too much flowery language, technical jargon or complex syntax, your brand message simply will not be heard by a large population.
Send a Consistent Brand Message
Whether it’s in a tweet or a whitepaper, your customers should receive a consistent brand message on every platform and across every medium. Developing detailed brand guidelines can help anyone writing on behalf of your brand better understand what to look for and how to infuse your distinct marketing voice into everything you publish. Include a few short samples of headlines, subheadlines and body copy to give your writers a taste of what readers should take away.
In addition to keeping the written part of your voice consistent, make sure it’s presented in a way that helps articulate the brand through imagery and design choices. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a cliche for a reason — visual choices, such as color, font and texture all carry connotations that punctuate brand messaging strategy.
Using Marketing Voice as a Differentiator
To demonstrate the impact of brand voice as a differentiator, let’s take a look at three products that do largely the same thing: small business accounting. They’re theoretically all trying to work with the same audience (small business owners) to do the same thing ─ help them with accounting. But the approach each of these brands takes couldn’t be more different:
Quickbooks is a well-established player in the accounting software space:
From the Quickbooks homepage, it’s pretty clear that their brand messaging strategy is primarily centered on pricing and simplicity: the numbers are the leading part of the brand message, followed closely by items like “Simple Start” and “Get time back.” This messaging continues throughout the site, and is reinforced by a whitespace-heavy visual identity. It’s all about saving money, saving time and simplifying the complexities of accounting, which makes sense for the target audience: small business owners need to save time so they can focus on making money (and keeping as much of it as possible).
Wave is another player in the space that takes a slightly different approach:
Rather than focusing on simplicity and affordability, Wave’s brand message is more about offering a robust platform that works hard. The brand voice is more assertive and punchy than Quickbooks, without sacrificing visual simplicity. Rather than simply saving time and doing accounting work, Wave uses differentiating phrases such as “truly understand and manage your income and expenses,” implying that other leading products don’t give you this “complete picture” in a way that’s digestible for hard-working small business owners.
Bench is a slightly different product, offering online bookkeeping outsourcing. Rather than trying to compete against local accountants and banking institutions, Bench presents themselves as an alternative to self-managed bookkeeping for small business owners.
Bench specifically positions as an easy-to-use online alternative to keeping your own books with software like QuickBooks or Wave. Several of the testimonials call out time savings and satisfaction coming from former QuickBooks and online accounting software users, placing emphasis on not having to do the work on your own.
The brand message, like others in the space, is largely focused on simplicity, but with a warm, approachable and uniquely human angle that informs both the product itself and the brand messaging strategy.
All three of these brands are trying to communicate with the same customer base about a service that ultimately will solve the same problem for users. The marketing voice is what sets them apart and each one takes a unique approach to hone in on specific audience pain points and core messages.
Publish, Syndicate and Amplify Your Brand Voice
It’s not enough to simply develop a brand marketing voice and publish a blog every now and then. You need a consistent brand messaging strategy that includes a regular publishing cadence to ensure that your brand message will be heard. Your content should be regular and relevant in order to keep readers coming back for more.
A robust marketing automation platform will help you publish content and syndicate it across multiple channels. And be sure to always keep in mind your specific audience segments, their needs and their expectations as part of your overall brand messaging strategy.