Establishing Your Company Voice in Content Marketing

By: Brandon Chesnutt

Content marketing is a crucial component of the modern PR mix. At its heart, it represents one of the most effective marketing means to attract potential customers, establish thought leadership around a particular subject, create lead magnets and valuable offers, and build your overall company or personal brand.

While the content itself is important, how you say it is just as crucial. Part of building your brand is deciding on the tone of your blog, e-books and social media posts.

Case in point: I think there are a lot companies that probably think they are cooler than they really are. They want to be edgy and fun in their marketing and content. But once a client or customer arrives in their office, the experience is straight vanilla. The voice and tone online simply doesn’t match the overall brand experience.

Here’s how to drill down what you want your business to sound like in its content marketing efforts to potential customers and clients.

Know What You Love

If you haven’t given much thought to your brand’s voice, it’s better to start with samples than empty adjectives. Telling a copywriter you want something “funny” or “edgy” isn’t very helpful. We all have a different idea of what that might mean. Are we “Arrested Development” funny or “King of Queens” funny?

Instead, find samples of the kind of voice you’re looking for. These can come from anywhere. Blogs are a natural choice. Bylined articles from trade magazines and LinkedIn long-form content are also great resources. Going a step further, the sample could be a movie character’s voice or personality, beat poetry or anything that makes the lightbulb go off for you.

Analyze Those Samples

Now it’s time to break down those things to see what makes them tick. Try running the written samples through a word analyzer to see which words come up the most. This can give you a sense of the type of language that appeals to you for your brand. You can also read through your samples and highlight words and phrases you like.

The goal is to make a list of language you love, which can help with honing your voice. You can also make note of the type of rhythm that appeals to you — are your samples short and sharp? Do they have lots of parenthetical asides? Is there humor?

Build Your Brand Thesaurus

Now that you have a better sense of the specifics you want to use in your brand voice, it’s time to communicate that to your copywriters and marketing team.

Create a document that describes your brand voice, and consider adding a list of “words we love” along with “words we hate” to offer guidance. Do we like to use qualified or accomplished to describe our expertise? Do we use clients or partners? Do we call our people team members or associates?

These standards should apply across the board, especially if your content marketing efforts involve multiple authors.

You’ll also want to nail down the nuts and bolts, like how you address your audience, the language for your calls to action, etc. Including snippets of your favorite samples is still a good idea, too.

React to Audience Feedback

As you write your blog and post to social media, don’t forget to scan the audience feedback to gauge their response to your voice.

If you’re a B2B company, there might be a strong chance that you will not see many comments on your content based on your industry. So, you might need to ask for direct feedback from trusted partners, vendors or clients.

Examine your most successful post, and keep building on that voice for the future. You can also study the language your audience uses in their social media, which can help you mirror their way of speaking as you further hone your brand’s voice.