Many people become someone else when they write. Like the Snickers commercial, where people aren’t themselves when they’re hangry.
With copywriting this happens with words instead of low blood sugar. Social, easy-going, friendly person in real life… becomes a pompous, studious professor-sounding person on paper.
Personality gone. All in an effort to sound smart.
Or maybe to sound as you believe your readers expect you to. But it often turns people off because – unless the “professor” voice IS your audience – they won’t relate.
If they can’t relate to you, they won’t feel understood.
And they won’t connect. Or trust you.
Imagine an email laced with 4-letter words marketing a product to a staunch, conservative, religious audience.
Cue immediate delete button and nosedive into the spam folder.
It’s clear why voice is so important. But what exactly do we mean by “voice”?
In a nutshell, voice can be defined as the sound your words create when they’re grouped together into sentences and phrases.
Your word choice, phrasing, formatting and punctuation all brings your writing to life and increases the volume of your voice, according to Joanna Wiebe of CopyHackers.
When readers feel they’re hearing YOU in your words, they relate to you. If they relate to you they feel they know you.
And since people tend to do business with those they know, like and trust… mastering your voice also helps conversions.
In fact, researching for the voice of customer is the first thing I dive into when working with a new client. In order to write copy that converts, it’s critical to nail the voice of customer (VOC).
Because here’s the thing: Your voice needs to work for the audience you most want to attract.
It’s why entire programs like this one dedicated to VOC exist. It’s that important.
Here’s how to find your voice…
First, you’ll need to eavesdrop on your customers in the places they hang out – in person or virtually. Once you know your target market, go where they are. (Trust me, it’s not as creepy as it sounds. Unless you’re doing it from a van parked outside a building with a giant satellite dish on top. Then maybe.)
For example, if fitness pros are your ideal customer, you’ll need to hit the gym. Turn off an earbud when you see people near you interacting. (As a fitness writer, I’ve done this many times.)
Take note of and observe:
- Cadence and how they talk – does the conversation flow? Do they sound stilted?
- Actual words and common phrases- do they have favorite ones?
- How people relate to each other – do they joke around? Are they self deprecating? Tell dry jokes?
- What brand might they be a good spokesperson for?
Create a mental sketch of what your ideal person sounds like.
Second, find publications your audience reads. If they’re into gaming, for instance, read all the gaming magazines you can find. See how the articles are written and try mimicking them.
For example, I often start blog posts with a humorous story from my own life. If I’m feeling uninspired, I look up Dave Barry’s old columns (he no longer writes them, sadly) for inspiration. I sometimes write out a few sentences of his work word-for-word to help me get in the flow. The mindset of Dave.
Then I’m off and running to write my own story.
And it’s never about whichever column I just read. This practice acts like a springboard for greasing the humor wheel, if you will.
You can do the same once you have an idea of how you’d like to sound and how your customers sound. Then practice adding and editing your new voice into your old or current copy.
Additional tips to keep in mind:
Voice tip #1:
Develop your own style. It sounds like I’m contradicting myself by suggesting you mimic others but I’m not. It’s like following a recipe. Once you’ve prepared it according to the instructions a few times, you start adding your own twists on it to make it “yours.”
Voice tip #2:
Take a stand on topics. Be passionate with your voice. Readers who are in alignment with you will be your best allies.
Voice tip #3:
Don’t force your voice. The idea of being natural sounding is all about becoming and sounding like a more amplified version of YOU.
It’s like you, only better. At your best.
These brands below have all nailed their best voice.
Tiffany’s play on gemstone words and colors clearly show refinement and elegance with a bit of playfulness.
Skittles has one of the most fun and humorous voices in branding. Nothing serious here, just candy and rainbows.
And Harley’s in-your-face attitude clearly shows its audience it takes no prisoners.
For more great examples of awesome customer voice, click HERE.
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