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What should be tone of voice when speaking to customers

The tone of Voice is a valuable tool for communicating with the target audience. It helps build brand awareness and an emotional connection between the company and the customer. You need to find the right ToV to sound confident and honest.

Why separate Brand Voice and Tone of Voice

When we talk about Tone of Voice, we involuntarily forget about Brand Voice. In principle, this is logical: there is no consensus on how they differ in the marketing environment, and the two concepts are often identified as one. Brand voice and tone of Voice – what’s the difference in communication style? But there is a difference.

Think Marketing magazine defines: “The voice of your brand is the words it says, while the tone of the brand is how it is pronounced.” In other words, Brand Voice is a story of attitudes and values. BV is traced when a brand expresses a point of view on a situation or shares with an audience what is essential to it.

For example, ASOS supports body positivity and speaks openly about it: “We need to show a healthy body that does not depend on any stereotypes. Therefore, we work with models of different colors and sizes that look like our customers. “

Content marketer Agnieszka Sienkiewicz makes an interesting analogy in How to Create a Brand Voice: Definition & Tips [+ Examples]. She compares the crowd of protesters to customers and the brand to the leader of the public. The leader uses a horn to sound louder. He speaks of shared goals and values, and his words resonate in the minds of protesters.

But this analogy seems to be from an ideal world, where the brand is always on the client’s side, and there are no conflicts between them. In practice, the values ​​that gather dust on the corporate website and the actual situation sometimes contradict each other.

It is worth separating Brand Voice and Tone of Voice to check whether the company follows its own words and promises.

For example, company N tells social media that it cares about customers. At the same time, the support service or managers in the office respond with passive aggression or completely rude instead of helping. The customer will be unhappy, but he is unlikely to find a contradiction between words and actions. This situation can become a determining factor when choosing a product or service, and the client will not cooperate with the company because of poor service.

Communication at any level – in social networks, in the office, or on the hotline – should not contradict beautiful words about the company’s values ​​and mission.

Why Any brand needs a tone of Voice

ToV helps the brand to gain a human face and speak to the target audience in its language.

Why does the client choose the products of a little-known company? Take an atelier and a furniture business that does custom manufacturing as an example.

  • The notorious individual approach. The client buys products that fully meet their needs. If these are clothes, they are made according to his measurements and his tastes. If this is furniture, it is made according to the specified dimensions and ideally fits the interior.
  • Impact on the quality of the product. Together with the manufacturer, the client decides what material the product will be made of. All the nuances are discussed, right down to the fittings.
  • Human factor. The client contacts a company that has attracted sympathy and emotional response. Perhaps friends advised to order it here, or he liked the work of the masters.

Small businesses value their customers more than the mass market. Maintaining a profile on social media is one way to show this.

Talk about production steps and materials, publish completed work, and communicate with your target audience. ToV helps revitalize any brand. Depending on the tone chosen, the atelier can speak like an elderly hostess who understands vintage fashion or like a cutter who dreamed of becoming a designer since childhood.

Why does the client choose the products of well-known companies? Let’s continue our example: a famous mass-market clothing brand and a furniture corporation with branches in different countries.

  • Recognition. The client does not waste time searching. He already knows about the existence of companies. Maybe go straight to their stores when you need new jeans or the kitchen table.
  • Confidence. Companies have a reputation that has built up over the years. Perhaps, subconsciously, the purchase of clothes or furniture is already associated with their brands.
  • Price. Mass-market products are cheaper than custom-made products.

Here, communication with customers is a separate area of ​​work. If a small brand convinces here and now to use the services of a company, or at least keep contact until the right time, a prominent brand works for a long time. He is not faced with the question of where to look for clients. The main goal is to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. The tone of Voice does a great job of doing this.

Among other things, ToV helps you differentiate yourself from competitors. Sprout Social marketing company conducted Sprout Social Index ™ research. Edition XVI: Above and Beyond and asked consumers why certain brands stand out from others. 32% of respondents named compelling storytelling, 33% – a prominent personality, 40% – awesome content. A well-chosen ToV will make any story more convincing and add characteristic features to the company’s image.

How to create a sincere Tone of Voice and not screw it up

The basic rule is that ToV should sound sincere and confident. Don’t confuse sincerity with bluntness and rudeness. While the former bribes customers who are tired of endless promises from companies, the latter looks at least impolite and repulsive.

To achieve a genuine ToV, you need to research the brand and target audience. It is not enough to agree in words that now you are addressing clients as “you” and writing posts in an official business style, or, conversely, using “you” and using youth slang. The choice of ToV should be understandable and understandable to everyone involved in brand management and marketing in the company.

We tell and show with examples.

Step # 1. Create a company profile

At least two people participate in the dialogue. Imagine that one of them is you, the other is the target audience. Before contacting her, remember what your company is now. Answer the questions:

  • What do you do?
  • What are the company’s values?
  • Can you define the mission of the company? Describe it.
  • How are you different from your competitors?

The first question is straightforward. You can answer it in a couple of minutes without looking at the corporate website or social networks.

The following is more complicated. Perhaps information about values ​​and mission is gathering dust on the site’s page “About the Company.” Please open it and answer how the specified information suits you now.  

Try to articulate your values ​​and not use clichéd language like “first-class service” and “dynamic company.” At this stage, you need to answer the questions honestly. Remember what is important to you, besides making a profit, and what you work for. Write briefly about it and add it to the portrait.

Research your competitors to answer the last question. Please pay attention to the products and services, prices, USP. Identify the differences that can play into your hands. It is also essential to be sincere and objectively evaluate the company compared to others. Don’t be overly critical, but don’t over-praise either.

Let’s take a furniture company from the previous point as an example and create a portrait of it.

Step # 2. Find out your target audience

Understanding your target audience is the key to creating a genuine ToV. Think about who orders or is interested in your products. Are they women or men? Teenagers or adults? After work, do they go to the bar or the library? Each characteristic is a touch to the portrait. It is in your best interest to write it in as much detail as possible.

The tip of the iceberg is statistics that you can take on social media. Study charts and graphs, find out the gender, age, place of residence.

The second option is good if you objectively highlight the product’s advantages and determine the benefits when purchasing. Based on this, make a list of people who need a product to solve a problem.

Regardless of what you choose, process the results obtained and analyze:

  • What is your target audience interested in?
  • What values ​​are close to her?
  • What is acceptable for your target audience? What tone will she take favorably?
  • What is unacceptable, and what technique will turn her off?

Answering these questions will help you get closer to your goal. For now, let’s try to create a sketchy portrait of the target audience of our furniture company.

Step # 3. Define the Tone of Voice

Now you know everything about the company and already enough about the target audience. It remains to assemble the parts into one puzzle. Remember that ToV must:

  • To convey the values ​​of the company, or at least not to contradict them;
  • Match the target audience;
  • Sounds natural.

Find the key that works for you. You can use the cheat sheet – a classification from the consulting company Nielsen Norman Group. It offers four Tone of Voice options.

Serious or funny

Imagine that the electricity in the office is cut off. Call the emergency service. The dispatcher does not know when they will turn it on. It would be best if you warned clients not to make plans to visit you today. Write an apology in the officials’ language or try to translate it into a joke? “There seems to be an error. Code 404, electricity not found. Would you mind postponing our meeting until tomorrow? “

Formal or colloquial

Your company will be celebrating its anniversary soon. Employees discuss corporate events with might and main. No one wants to work. Only the SMM manager grabbed the keyboard and typed a post: he must tell subscribers about the anniversary. Will he make a solemn congratulation with the list of regalia, or will he write as he would say to his relatives in the kitchen?

Respectful or provocative

You have thoroughly prepared for Black Friday and decided to sell the product at a 70% discount. It’s time to invite customers for the sale of the year. Will you politely invite or come up with a sassy post like Visit or Burger King?

Emotional or low-key

You’ve been working on a new product for a whole year and are ready to release it. We added a page with a product to the company’s website, posted beautiful photos, and wrote a selling text. It would help if you talked about the start of sales in social networks. What do you choose – an emotionless factual message or enthusiastic storytelling?

In addition to parameters, the Nielsen Norman Group names 37 words that will help describe the ToV in more detail. We will not list everything and will limit ourselves to a few. How can be authoritative or playful, friendly or caustic, caring or rude, cognitive or outspoken? The choice depends on your company and target audience.

It is not enough to name a couple of adjectives and immediately write the text, finding the right key. Here’s another cheat sheet to help you define and implement a ToV. Nicola Fleming, content strategist and UX writer recommend making a spreadsheet in How to Define a Brand Voice for Maximum Impact. It needs to reflect the definitions that characterize the ToV, explain the choice, and record what the ToV allows and what does not.

Step # 4. Capture Tone of Voice in documents

You have decided how you will communicate with your target audience. Now fix the rules for using ToV in the editorial policy or write a separate instruction.

So you will have a single standard so that copywriters, SMM managers, marketers, and everyone involved communicate in the same style. The staff may change, but the Tone of Voice will remain the same.

Why humanizing a brand doesn’t work.

Humanization is a popular way to define Tone of Voice. Marketers try to create a human image for a brand and make it speak. This method is effective if you plan to introduce a fictional character and entrust him with communicating with customers.

When creating a Tone of Voice, humanization is nothing more than an exciting practice for creating an image. You can come up with an appearance for a brand, give it character, reflect on its interests and everyday life. When humanizing, the manager relies on the company’s idea and thinks out what kind of person it could be. It turns out an image filled with generalizations and stereotypes and is divorced from reality.

The invented image dictates how to approach the client. Depending on the marketer’s decision, he can pretend to be a wise teacher, close friend, or neighbor. 

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