“Do you have any mustard?”
“Give me the mustard.”
“Pardon me: Do you have any Grey Poupon?”
These three statements mean the same thing, but each is a unique way of asking for the desired item. Often, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
In her session at Authority Rainmaker 2015, Ann Handley shared the belief that brand voice is key to creating good content marketing that will set you apart.
There is this idea that as quantity of content increases, quality takes a nose dive. So how do you maintain or increase quality of content while increasing quantity?
It starts with being really good at the basics, like brand voice.
Not More Content…Ridiculously Better Content
- 77% of B2C organizations are using content marketing. (Source: CMI/MarketingProfs)
- 69% of B2C organizations are creating more content than they did 1 year ago. (Source CMI/MarketingProfs)
You aren’t just competing with your competitors anymore, but you’re competing with yourself and everyone else for mind share. Sometimes it may feel like you need more content in order to get attention.
The answer IS NOT more content…it’s ridiculously better content.
Good Writing is About Getting Inside the Heads of Other People
Producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for content marketers. Producing engaging content means becoming a better storytelling and a better writer.
According to Ann, writing is the guts of content marketing. And good writing isn’t just about grammar. It’s about knowing what your audience needs and wants and telling that story in a really interesting way.
This is where your brand voice comes into play. Ann gave us five steps to create and use a brand voice.
Step 1: You Do You (it’s not what you sell, it’s who you are).
At a very basic level, branded web content should answer these three questions:
- Who are you?
- Why do you do what you do? This means what value do you offer that no one else does.
- What are you like to deal with? This means what story are you telling more broadly when people come to your site.
Brand voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story and communicates empathy to people you want to reach.
Ann used the example of CrowdRise. The CrowdRise home page reads: “Raise money for a awesome causes and have the most fun while you do it”. The tagline says “if you don’t give back no one will like you”.
Definitely a distinctive voice: irreverent, fun and inspiring. According to Gary Wohlfeill, Director of Marketing at CrowdRise, this is more than just copywriting. This is a calculated move to talk about who CrowdRise is and use it as a differentiator. The copywriter isn’t just brought in at the end. They are there every step of the way.
Step 2: Write it Down
Once you know who you are broadly, then distill it down, so it’s easy to communicate and embody.
Complete this Marketing Madlib.
Our brand is (go ahead and fill out three adjectives):
Ok – keep that handy.
Step 3: Re-frame
Now that you know who you are, re-frame the three adjectives from your Madlib and put your customer into the story. Your website should be built around who you are and what that means to your customer.
Another example Ann provided was that of Tufts University. Their three adjectives are reassuring, helpful and humorous. So now let’s spin those adjectives to include their target audience, prospective parents and students applying for college.
- Reassuring becomes relax
- Helpful becomes no BS
- Humorous becomes let’s not get too nutty about college
Re-framing the adjectives transforms content about “you” into content that offers a unique value for your audience.
Step 4: Do Not Dilute
Writing in a distinctive brand voice is about taking some risks. Content marketing is a magnet that is meant to attract like minded people, and repel those who are not.
If you dilute your brand voice so you don’t offend anyone, it will be that much less powerful. Remember, this is about building an audience, not just getting eyeballs.
Step 5: Sweat the Small Stuff
Brand voice touches beyond those things you typically think of as content, it’s everything you put out there. Find interesting ways to say boring stuff on your ‘about us’, landing pages, microcopy, and subscribe buttons.
Matching every word on your site to your brand voice (re-framed for your audience) shows empathy, a powerful motivator for consumers.
Quantity and quality don’t have to be enemies. By getting back to basics, who you are, your brand can create a strong voice which attracts the right audience with quantity and quality.
Disclosure: Copyblogger Media is a TopRank Marketing client for the Authority Conference.