Anyone can write something, but only you can write like you. Voice is the rhythm of your writing; the personality that shines through the prose. (Spoiler alert: I like alliteration.) But most importantly, it makes you a human– a real-life person that you’d like to have a drink with, complain to, or, in the marketing world, connect with and learn more about what that person, brand, or product does.
But did you feel it? The moment I mentioned “brand” or “product,” the tone shifted. It did for me at least. Maybe it shifted for you as soon as I said “marketing,” but the fact of life is that we’re all selling something, and when it comes to content marketing, how you sell it is as important as what you’re selling.
For my favorite lesson in voice selling, let’s turn to Ella Fitzgerald.
That’s right — one of the most recognizable voices in history is trying to sell us on her rendition of Mac the Knife, and she botches the execution…only to create my favorite version of the song.
What can we learn?
Lesson 1: It’s okay to try something new, but…
Lesson 2: If you’re going to do something new, go all in. Don’t half-ass it. If you’re in, you’re in.
Lesson 3: Have fun. If you’re having fun, your audience is likely having fun.
Trust your voice, but get a second opinion
There are no rules when it comes to content marketing. Sure, you have to hit your product mentions and call to action, but this isn’t paint by numbers. It’s Jackson Pollock throwing words at the page and seeing what happens. However, if you’re going to do this, you’re going to need some help. Have someone in your organization review your drafts before you publish. They’ll be a better judge of what’s cool and what’s crazy when it comes to promoting your brand.
Some of you may be asking yourselves, “How can I possibly write about my brand when there’s so much pain and uncertainty going on in the world?”
I felt the same way. That’s why I had to write this before I could write anything else (like this weird Ella-inspired blog or start a new video series with absolutely no plan whatsoever):
My advice: Write about it to get it out of your system and then move on. You have customers and clients that could benefit from your solutions. Talk about those benefits, but be cognizant of the challenges they’re facing.
You know who’s killing it with content marketing voice?
Steak-umm. That’s right, that questionable thin meat you tried to grill once when you were 18 is spitting well-researched, well-written knowledge on Twitter. I don’t know what’s going on either, but I’m here for it.
friendly reminder in times of uncertainty and misinformation: anecdotes are not data. (good) data is carefully measured and collected information based on a range of subject-dependent factors, including, but not limited to, controlled variables, meta-analysis, and randomization— Steak-umm (@steak_umm) April 7, 2020
Bonus content for writing nerds
I just finished Feersum Endjinn (my weird obsession with cyberpunk continues). It offers a master class in written voice. It features chapters from a character’s point of view that are written phonetically. And they aren’t throw-away chapters. There is just as much plot and character development packed in as the other chapters.
Check it out:
If you made it this far…
My voice totally worked. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your weirdest, most fun content marketing work—[email protected].
Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment, a B2B publication for the heavy-duty trucking industry. In former writing lives, he’s waxed on about construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer. Currently, he’s working on perfecting his impression of Ella impersonating Louis Armstrong.