Three Tips for Developing and Using Your “Marketing Voice”
The first hurdle one needs to overcome – before gaining the ability to market or sell anything – is getting the people you interact with – your potential customers; to “know, like and trust” you. And without question, the quickest and easiest way to leap that hurdle – is to be yourself.
The following quote while directed at the internet, is equally applicable to any kind of marketing.
“Authenticity, honesty, and personal voice underlie much of what’s successful on the Web.”
– Rick Levine / The Cluetrain Manifesto
I’ve quite often questioned this advice myself, considering I come from a long line of sarcastic S.O.B.’s. And while frequently tempering my opinions and writing style to suit the wider audience, I’ve learned many of my readers enjoy the sarcasm and would be disappointed if it I left it out altogether.
To get the most from your marketing efforts it’s important your potential customers get to know the real you – not some artificial made up persona you think best represents your business.
But many people struggle with this “letting go”, constantly feeling the need to edit “themselves” – as though what they as an individual think or write – is somehow unworthy.
Tip #1 – Write with Abandon
The best advice I’ve ever read for training yourself to write as you speak, to write as yourself, is to just write. Whether it’s a blog post, a sales letter, a newspaper ad, a Facebook status update or a Twitter tweet – just write – without editing.
Many of us have never moved past eighth grade composition. We sit down to write remembering cranky Old Maid Johnson leaning over our shoulder, prepared to chastise should we place an errant comma or smack our knuckles for a dangling participle.
I’ve never tried this but some suggest writing with your computer monitor turned off. That way, Old Maid Johnson – sitting on your shoulder like some grammatical devil – won’t be able to see what you’re writing.
If you can train yourself to write without constantly editing, your real voice will come through.
“Remarkable social media content and great sales copy are pretty much the same – plain spoken words designed to focus on the needs of the reader, listener, or viewer.”
– Brian Clark / Founder – Copyblogger
Tip #2 – Go Back and Polish
The key to writing with abandon – without editing yourself, is to get all your thoughts down on paper. It’s at this point – in the editing process – that the real writing begins.
Ernest Hemingway once said;
“The first draft of anything is $h*t.”
And that was Hemingway. Is there any reason to believe something you or I might write is going to be the best it can be, first time through?
But remember to stay true to yourself and your personality when you edit. Don’t sterilize yourself or you lose the personality. Look for situations where a more powerful word might better convey what you’re trying to say. As Mark Twain wrote,
“The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
We’ve all read emails dashed off in rush of impatience or Twitter posts that make no sense because the writer didn’t take the time to polish.
Do I polish Facebook comments made in response to something my son might post, or a comment my niece makes on my wall? Of course not.
Do I bother to edit a two sentence comment I make in response to a post made by a client. Absolutely. I have painfully experienced multiple times – the necessity for editing what you write.
When it comes to a long-form sales letter the editing process can take many times longer than the creation of the first draft. Now is the time to develop incomplete thoughts – to choose the exact word that will make your copy come to life and your customers react.
Tip #3 – Let it Age
Like grass fed beef and a fine bottle of cabernet sauvignon in a five start restaurant – your writing will improve with age. So let it.
The immediacy of social media doesn’t really lend itself to the aging process. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to double and triple check what you’ve written before hitting the “post” button.
If you’re working on a sales letter or a newspaper ad or radio script; stick it in a drawer and forget about it for a while. It’s best to wait for a final review until you can’t remember what it is you’ve written.
(For those of us past 50 this isn’t a particular hardship. Years ago I’d have to wait a couple of weeks for a sufficient memory lapse to develop. Now all I have to do is go upstairs, turn around and come back down to my desk. I just have to remember what drawer I put it in.)
Never has this advice been more important than in today’s world of social media. Do not try to be something or someone you aren’t. You don’t need to develop an artificial “persona” you already have a real one.
Whether you’re writing blog posts or sales copy, Twitter tweets or status updates, always be yourself.
Stay true to your own voice making it easier for your potential clients to begin to “know, like and trust you” – and that can only lead to more business.