Think back to the last time you attended a social meet-up, or other event where you met new people. Who were the people who stood out? Who were the ones you’d like to get to know better?
They’re the ones who made you smile or otherwise feel good about yourself, right?
The people who expressed a real interest in your life, and came across as genuine and honest. It’s also more than likely that your mutual interests and values overlapped too. You had things in common, but something about them made you aspire to be a better version of yourself.
In combination, each of these characteristics made that person more memorable to you. It established a bond and the beginnings of trust – which is exactly what tone-of-voice should do in helping make your copy resonate with your readership.
Now, compare all this with those people you weren’t so fond of
You know the type – they talk about themselves exclusively and seem wrapped up entirely in their own problems. OK, they might be memorable – but for all the wrong reasons. And your exchanges certainly aren’t the basis for longer-term trust and reciprocation.
That’s why I advocate channelling the soul of a person who’s authentic and honest into tone-of-voice development with my clients.
I believe that behind all good tone-of-voice should be someone (not necessarily a real human but it can be) who’s open, curious and well-socialised. They’re not saccharine sweet and over-friendly either – just interested in other people with an outward worldview, and enthusiastic in the way their values come across.
It’s also a strong argument for why your tone-of-voice shouldn’t sound exactly like your core audience.
When someone talks exactly like you, tells you what you want to hear, and talks about the exactly same things, it’s one more obstacle to inspiring, enlightening and informing your readership.
So it’s OK to develop tone-of-voice that sounds a bit different to the people you’re trying to reach. Think similar, but not same.
What to take away from all this
If you’re presently exploring how your company should come across in your copywriting, you’d do well to base it on those memorable people you’ve met at social engagements.
Specifically, think about what drives them – the intentions behind their behaviour. Why were they interested and interesting? What made them go out of their way to help you? Chances are it’s their values driving them so that’s a good place to begin developing tone-of-voice.