Conveying ideas to an audience is challenging. In our heads, our thoughts and ideas make so much sense, but it’s much harder to get other people to see the world the way that we do. Take public speaking as an example: sometimes you may think up the perfect idea; you’re excited about this idea and want to share it with others. Maybe you even imagine yourself in front of an audience, conveying those ideas with poise and authority. Then the moment comes to deliver our grand vision to everyone listening and suddenly you hear the words that are coming out of your mouth, and they just sound… flat. Your audience isn’t responding, there are people yawning and checking their phones. It’s a terrible feeling, right? What happened to your bold message and why didn’t anyone connect with what you had to say?
As a public speaker, you want others to be energized by what you have to say; the same is true for having a business or a brand and promoting that business or brand online. When you’re sharing your ideas with an audience, you want them to understand the world as you see it; you want them to appreciate the reasons you find your brand, service, or product to valuable. You want them to feel the same electricity and passion that you do, so that they will choose to buy-in and invest in what you’re offering them. But sometimes there can be a huge gulf between how you see yourself (your brand, your service, the products you have to offer) and how the audience sees you. That is the job of a copywriter: to convey ideas in a way where nothing gets lost in translation.
So, how is this accomplished? How do we communicate ideas to an audience without our message getting lost? A lot of times it comes down to voice and tone, but what does that mean?
Finding Your Brand’s Voice
Finding your brand’s voice is important to conveying your overall message. It’s about taking your message and giving it personality, so your audience feels connected to the human(s) behind it. Finding the right voice for your brand or business comes down to two things: understanding your business and understanding the audience.
First, you need to understand your own business. How would you describe it? Is it a tough and formal law firm? Is it a down-to-earth roofing company? Or are you a bright and friendly pilates instructor? Who you are, the personality of your business, should be reflected in your branding. By having the right voice, your audience will find it easier to understand your point of view, and have a better chance at connecting with what you have to say.
Second, you need to understand your audience. Maybe you’re a tough and formal law firm, but your target audience are construction workers who got hurt on the job. How you speak to this audience is going to be different than if you were trying to talk to, say, CEOs who are seeking legal advice on contract negotiations. You’re going to speak to these two audiences differently, using different types of language, based on how that target audience likes to be spoken to.
Writing in a voice that fits your target audience can be the most demanding element of copywriting because it requires stepping into another person’s shoes. Sometimes you have the luxury of speaking with your audience and getting a sense of who they are, but usually, this is not the case. That means you are left with little more than empathy and imagination to take your audience data and flesh it out into something more engaging and more human.
Setting the Tone
If voice is the personality, the tone is the mood. When conveying your message, you need to ask yourself how you (the author) are feeling when conveying the message and how the audience might be feeling while reading it. With tone, we might start with our audience’s perspective and adjust our mood to meet theirs.
For example, if you’re a roofer who is helping people rebuild after a terrible storm, you might imagine that your audience is stressed and concerned. Their home is important to them and now its roof is torn up, leaking water all over their family memories. Their history is getting destroyed and they’re turning to you for help. Imagining all of this, how might you speak to this customer? What’s the mood they need to be met with? Maybe a comforting authority that everything is going to be alright, that they’re in good hands. Maybe an urgency, that you’re going to fix their roof and help them return to their normal, everyday activities.
The tone of your copy needs to match the message just as much as the voice, otherwise it’s going to read as strange or wrong to the audience. If your audience is approaching you, concerned about the state of their roof, and you’re injecting your copy with jokes and humor, your audience might be offended that you’re not taking their problems seriously. That’s the power of tone and why it’s so important to find one that’s true to your message.
The Value of a Good Copywriter
You might be reading all of this and still left asking yourself, “Okay, I get what you’re saying: I need to craft my ideas in a way that fits the personality and mood of my business, but how does someone actually accomplish this?” How do you capture the right voice and tone? Unfortunately, it’s not always an easy task and there is no perfect system for achieving it. It takes years of practice to perfectly hone the copywriting skills used to capture the right tone and voice, conveying ideas with the right choice of words. That’s why it can be useful to have an experienced copywriter on your marketing team! They can take your company’s vision and values, and help present them in a way your audience will connect with. If you are a writer and don’t wish to give up creative control entirely, a great copywriter can also serve as an editor, coaching you through the process and offering suggestions on how your writing can be strengthened.
A great copywriter offers more than just words on a page; they offer the connection your audience needs to feel in order to be engaged enough to contact your team, buy your product, or invest in your services. A great copywriter helps motivate your audience to take action, crafting messaging that your audience feels as much as they understand. That’s what’s conveyed with voice and tone: not just information but human emotions like trust, respect, and passion. Anyone can use words to outline an idea, but it’s with the help of a copywriter that your ideas can be transformed into meaningful results.
Discover how the copywriting team at Timmermann Group can develop the voice & tone of your business!