Transforming the way you communicate with audiences is necessary. Accomplishing this requires going back to the basics: literary devices.
Specifically, the literary devices of tone, voice, and point of view.
I know what you’re thinking–you’re back in 7th grade English class and you hate it. I know this because I am a writer and people like to tell me how much they hated their English classes on a pretty regular basis. While I’m certainly not offended by this, it does make me think that most marketers could probably use a refresh on the elements of writing that apply to marketing.
It turns out that there are a lot of them that can be applied to marketing, especially when it comes to crafting a great piece of content. I’m talking about tone, voice, and point of view (POV) today, though, because they apply to more than just content. They apply to your brand identity. To your communication strategies across channels. They give you a unified voice throughout all stages of the buying process. They allow you to stand out against competitors and give your audiences something to connect with and relate to.
This is more important than ever because, simply put, reaching your audience is more difficult than ever. In 2015, the output of content per brand increased 35% but content engagement decreased by 17%. (Track Maven) 52% of marketers are concerned with finding new ways to reach consumers as they block or skip ads. (Ad Age) The average buyer is 57% of the way through the buyers’ journey before they reach out to a salesperson. (CEB) Only 1% of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. (Forbes)
Admittedly, things don’t look great for marketers. Consumers are in control, they don’t like what they see from brands, and they’re choosing not to engage with these brands. There is a positive aspect to this situation, though. If you can manage to reach audiences, you’re reaching them on their own terms and their loyalty to your brand will likely be tenfold.
Literary Devices Spin a Story Your Audience Will Choose to Engage With
So, back to the literary devices. I call them timeless because they’re excellent and necessary methods of storytelling. No writer would approach their work without seriously contemplating its tone, voice, and point of view as well as how these elements would resonate with their audience. The same process should go into your marketing efforts.
Every piece of content you put out there is an action, whether you like it or not. Every single marketing asset with your organization’s name on it is actively branding you and actively speaking to your audience. Cultivating your tone, voice, and POV is a strategic decision. It will speak to your audience from their very first impression to their decision to become repeat buyers or long-term clients. It will be reflected in your blog, your premium content, your social posts, and your nurture emails—your sales calls, your thank you pages, and your recruitment assets. The list is infinite.
Not defining your tone, voice, and POV is still a choice. It’s a choice to let your organization’s identity be bland and inconsistent. To blend into the crowd and let your audience become increasingly less engaged in your marketing.
Make the choice to tell stories your audience cares about with a point of view they can rally behind. Read on to get the scoop on exactly what each of these elements is from marketing authorities and to get my tips on how to incorporate them into your strategy.
Point of View: Your Brand’s Stance
“[Point of View is] your world view, opinion, your take on things, your angle, your diagnosis, context, an expression of your unique voice. It’s your thesis.” Marketing for Hippies
“(In fictional writing) [Point of View is] the narrator’s position in relation to the story being told.” Google
How to find your point of view:
- Identify what it is that you truly offer your audience. If you sell pillows, maybe your true offer is comfort. If you sell vitamins, maybe you offer the peace of mind that comes with preventative care. Be creative with it.
- Build off of this niche offering, do your research, and develop a unique opinion that none of your competitors have owned yet.
- When deciding if you’ve landed on your official point of view, consider whether it is authentic, strong, unique, and relatable to your audience.
“TONE OF VOICE is not what you say, but how you say it. This encompasses not only the words you choose but their order, rhythm and pace…A company’s tone of voice will inform all of its written copy, including its website, social media messages, emails and packaging.” Distilled
“Voice is your style…your personality.” Writers Unblocked
“[Voice is] your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional.” Buffer Social
How to find your voice:
- Ask yourself what your brand’s personality is – thinking of your brand as a person instead of an organization can help with this exercise.
- Identify your organization’s core values and the most important aspects of your culture.
- Interview and research your audience to find out which of your personality traits and core values resonate most with the people you’re trying to reach.
- Pick 3-5 adjectives that will always define your brand, no matter the situation.
Tone: Your Brand’s Voice in Action
“Tone is specific to your messaging (and, therefore, is a part of voice). Where your voice more than likely sits in the same spot — and is who you/your brand inherently are/is — your tone can change vastly depending on the type of message you’re trying to convey.” Writers Unblocked
“Tone: A subset of your brand’s voice. Tone adds specific flavor to your voice based on factors like audience, situation, and channel.” Buffer Social
How to find your tone:
- Once you’ve nailed down your voice, take out a thesaurus and pick out 10-15 descriptive words that apply to your voice
- Identify your most used channels and the audiences on those channels, then select adjectives to describe how you’ll communicate with those audiences. It can also be helpful to identify the different types of communication on each channel. For example, how does your tone differ when responding to a positive comment versus an angry comment.
- Come up with 5-10 examples of “Write like this” and “Don’t write like this” that apply to different scenarios on different channels to show how your tone reflects your voice in action.
Achieving a Cohesive, Differentiating Message
POV is your all-encompassing stance. Voice is who you are–your POV embodied in a personality. Tone is the individual application of voice in specific situations. When these are pulled together, you’ll find unity, cohesiveness, and differentiation. Competition is stiff and if your product isn’t unique enough to truly catch the eye of your audience, the only way to stand out is to tell a story with a one-of-a-kind voice. Hence the important of classic storytelling and literary devices.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Agile, Simple, Effective: Finding Your Voice & Cutting Through the Clutter for specific advice on cultivating a powerful brand voice.