Tressa Sloane

For the life of me, I cannot play an instrument or hold a single note. It just isn’t in me. For years, I was convinced I was tone deaf.

Well, check out this bad boy right here:

I'm not tone deaf

Thanks to this handy test, I found out that I’m certifiably NOT tone deaf (I think I might display this badge on my LinkedIn profile)!

But that got me thinking. Tone doesn’t apply only to music. For creative people like writers, tone is extremely important. When it comes to content, the tone of voice you use in your marketing materials sets the stage for prospects. Are they going to be reading something more professional and educational? Or is it going to be light-hearted and conversational?

More importantly, is that tone going to be consistent across all touchpoints so prospects know when they are interacting with your brand?

Your tone is a vital part of your overall brand message. If you’re using a tone that doesn’t resonate with your readers, you risk turning them off from your company.

Setting the right tone

When developing a content strategy, many marketers have popular publications in mind that they’d like to emulate. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Finding websites, magazines and newspapers that have the tone you’re aiming for gives you a great starting point.

But you’ve got to be careful, and keep your goals realistic. If you want to have the same tone as The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, keep in mind they have a vast amount of people on staff, and this is one resource you may not necessarily have. Or maybe you have writers, but their styles are all over the place. By being realistic, you can create a strategy that steadily builds toward your desired tone.Just don’t expect to hit it right out of the gate.

As for figuring out which tone works best for your brand, well, it all depends – on your company, your products and services, your content, and most importantly, your target audience. Do your prospects respond better to content that’s informal, or do they prefer more professional language? This is crucial information to know before you jump into developing content.

Many marketers feel that they must stick with a certain tone based on the industry they are in. For example, B2B companies may think they need to use only professional and, yes, stodgy, tones. But it’s not true at all. You can easily convey technological or business topics through a more conversational tone.

It’s important to remember, you’re not writing for yourself.

Again, it all depends on your target audience, the kind of content it is looking for, and the language that best resonates with it. So when creating a content strategy, don’t forget to nail down that preferred tone of voice for your brand messaging.

Hitting the right tone for your prospects' ears

Keeping tone consistent

Earlier in the article, I touched on one of the most important aspects of tone of voice in content marketing: consistency.

Besides getting the tone right, keeping that same tone through all touchpoints with your brand is one of the most vital factors when it comes to engaging with your audience and converting them into customers.

Why? Well, take into consideration the fact that what your content says and how it relays a message makes up almost half (45 percent) of your overall brand image. Or that consistency plays a huge role in whether prospects trust your business. Companies that are consistent in their messaging are worth 20 percent more than those that aren’t.

Maintaining tone of voice in your marketing will significantly help you with building trust. But how can you ensure your tone remains consistent?

First, before you start writing anything, create a guide that outlines the desired tone, as well as publications to emulate. Next, make sure whoever is writing your content is trained on that guide, and show them examples. Go through the first few pieces with them to ensure the right tone is being used.

And, as always, analyze and revise as needed. Your target audience’s preferences may change, and so too should your tone and brand messaging.

The right content tone of voice can be music to your prospects’ ears, so be sure you’re not tone deaf by creating a consistent and engaging voice within your pieces.