Why small businesses need an authentic tone of voice

When discussing brand voice with my clients, one word comes up frequently: ‘authentic’. In the food and drinks industry, small businesses covet an authentic image.

It’s hardly surprising because authenticity is fundamental for smaller businesses wanting to differentiate themselves from multinational corporate entities.

But how can you achieve an authentic voice and what role does it play in content marketing?

Finding an authentic voice

Content marketing is a crucial part of a buyer’s journey, helping them understand the value of a product or service. The Attract, Engage and Delight principles of inbound marketing are concerned with grabbing—and keeping—people’s attention. Content marketing helps your business tell its story and build a genuine relationship with your buyers. If you continue to engage and delight your fans, they’ll keep coming back to you.

Storytelling is an effective way of drawing in an audience and standing out from the crowd. By letting people know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re establishing an emotional connection. This has to be achieved naturally and genuinely; in today’s modern world, we’re quick to spot a big brand using a social movement for commercial gain (remember the backlash over the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad? Yikes.).

How to be authentic on social media

Developing a tone of voice based on the values of your business is the best place to start. There’s no fudging this, you have to drill down and pinpoint about what makes you different. Thinking about active and passive voice and point of view (whether it’s using first person or third person) can drastically change how your audience perceives your messaging. This is why a style guide (with examples of dos and don’ts) can be helpful for all business communications.

Ultimately, consistency is crucial to brand building. Once you’ve developed and established a tone of voice, why would you break out of character?

For instance, I recommend to clients that social media is left to one person. This is because it’s jarring when a brand’s tone of voice swings from one extreme to another. It doesn’t mean that business owners are barred from social media entirely, but it’s best practice that they post from their own (personal) accounts.

Ensuring this tone of voice is consistent is just one of the services a content manager can offer.

Being authentic is especially important for small businesses

According to GlobalWebIndex’s flagship report on social media trends in 2019, over 90% of brands use social media and more than 40% of digital consumers use social networks to research new brands or products. In fact, 31% of digital consumers reported that research into and purchasing products were among their main motivations for using social media.

This means that yes, you have competition online, but you’re at a real disadvantage if you aren’t showing up in searches.

Having a unique story and an authentic voice gives people a reason to follow you and then potentially engage with you. It gives them the chance to ask questions about what time your business is open today, whether a product is back in stock, or if you’re ever going to brew that one-off seasonal beer again. 

It breathes life into a business and gives consumers an opportunity to learn about your story, products and employees.

It seems so simple

But, like most content planning, creating an authentic tone of voice takes time and plenty of strategy. Putting together a well-balanced content schedule ensures that you aren’t inundating your followers with too much salesy messaging or pointless waffle. Elements of your story should be tied into your holistic marketing strategy.

That means that if you want to increase your followers or see a rise in sales this quarter, you should look into incorporating your brand’s tone of voice into all of your content, including social media, blogs, newsletters and your website. Planning is key.

This is one aspect of how a content marketing strategy works. If you don’t have the budget to employ someone in-house to focus on content marketing, a freelance content marketer can help. 

Even if it’s only for a few hours a week, you’ll be able to work together to develop and implement an effective tone of voice and make your online marketing come alive.

So why not get in touch and see how we can work together? 

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