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How Easy to Understand is Your Marketing Content?

Profile photo of Elaine Fogel Submitted by Elaine Fogel April 29, 2016

tone-of-voiceDo you sometimes get bogged down when writing your business’ or organization’s marketing content? Is it filled with jargon or technical information?

There’s an answer for you… Cut it out!

When your marketing language is difficult to understand, and only “insiders” know what you’re talking about, you have a big problem.

“Language is how customers get to know you. If what you’re saying as a brand strikes the wrong tone, is inconsistent or difficult to understand, it’s going to affect how they feel about you. Worst case scenario, they might just give up and go elsewhere,” said Anelia Varela, U.S. director of The Writer consultancy.

The Writer consultancy recently released key findings from a new study of Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. revealing that more than 80% of the businesses surveyed have no formal tone of voice (or what some call “verbal identity”), and 94% of these have no intention of creating one. And yet, 80% of early adopters of tone of voice say it’s just as – or more – important than their brand’s visual identity.

So, what IS a brand’s “tone of voice?”

According to Nicolas Cage in a recent Inc. article, “Every brand has a brand voice.  Every sentence on your website, every adjective you use, every e-mail you send and package you ship and PDF you provide for download creates this voice–whether it be through the words, the imagery, even the colors you’ve picked for your brand. It all comes together to create a ‘persona,’ and that persona helps the consumer make a decision. Do you relate to them? Great. They’re sold. And if you don’t, they move on.”

I’ll also add this from my book, “Your business’ brand tone of voice should realistically reflect its brand personality in all its marketing communications.” (Excerpted from Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success, ©2015)

The businesses that have embraced tone of voice see it as an effective marketing tool and brand identifier. The study shows that those with a tone of voice are using it nearly everywhere, with eight out of ten businesses saying it’s reached most or all functions in their organization.

“For some companies, we’ve seen the ROI reach 10:1,” added Varela, “but most U.S. companies don’t even know that a tool like this exists. They’re just not thinking about their language and the impression it creates.”

According to the study:

   > Only one in five U.S. businesses interviewed had a tone of voice. 70% of them claimed it was just as or more important than their visual identity and 96% said they would invest in it again

   > 84% of companies with a tone of voice said that senior management recognized its value and business benefit

   > Average time since adopting a new tone of voice in business communications is four years, usually for the first time – making it a relatively new business tool

   > Only 14% of all respondents dismissed tone of voice as unimportant

   > Companies with a tone of voice said the top three “triggers” for its adoption were: (1) The need for fresh corporate identity or rebranding; (2) Repositioning the brand; and (3) Initiative from a new CEO

Whether you’re writing for consumers, business buyers, donors, clients, or students, your brand’s tone of voice will impact their decision-making process. Even when marketing to scientific, technological, and healthcare audiences, there are ways to incorporate your “technical speak” with a defined tone of voice.

So… what’s your brand’s tone of voice?

This post was originally published in by Elaine Fogel

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Profile photo of Elaine Fogel
Elaine is a professional speaker, marketing thought leader, and author of Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success. She is a regular contributor to Business2Community, and SmallBizClub (founded by NFL Hall of Famer and author, Fran Tarkenton) and her articles have appeared in many publications. People in 100+ countries read her blog, Totally Uncorked on Marketing. She has also been a contributing writer for The Business Journal and MarketingProfs and her career has included stints as a cookbook author, teacher, singer, and television show host. Elaine Fogel Speaker: Elaine's Book: Totally Uncorked on Marketing blog:

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