Do you remember when the theatrical show STOMP hit the scene in the early ‘90s and – suddenly – every advertisement had the same percussive stomping audio track? No matter whether it was cars or sports shoes (maybe even bathroom cleaner?), for a while there, it seemed like one advertising agency was using the same ad format and sound for all of its clients.
For businesses that create content for other businesses, how do you avoid having all of your clients’ materials sound exactly the same?
Because writing and translation are among the services I offer clients, I find it enormously useful to get to know my client’s voice – literally! – before I try to craft any language that they will use to try to attract customers to their business.
Here are some ways I get to know the sound of their actual voice:
I look for videos that my client has already made and posted online. These include short videos on their website, longer videos they have posted to a YouTube channel, or even Facebook Live videos.
Meeting them in person.
It’s great when a client is local and I have the opportunity to get together with them for a cup of coffee to get to know them better. Not only is it an opportunity to form a more personal bond with them, but it helps me get to know their voice and personality in a more informal setting.
Skype call or a phone call.
If it’s physically impossible for me to meet up with a client in person, I arrange a Skype call, or a simple telephone call to get to know them better and to discuss the project. Even without the added benefit of video, I can still get to hear their way of speaking.
I don’t simply use the options above as ways to get to know the sound of my client’s voice. There are other benefits. A person’s “voice” is not just the way they sound. When I am watching a video or having a conversation with my client, I always pay attention to the following:
How fast does this person speak? Do they speak quickly and to the point, or are they more cautious and reserved as they put their thoughts into words?
What kind of vocabulary does my client use? Are they the kind of person that would naturally incorporate words like “synergy” and “lateral-thinking” into their website text or blog posts, or are they the kind that gravitates toward phrases like “making connections” and “thinking outside the box”?
I also like to note the client’s mannerisms in their videos or when I meet them. Do they gesture a lot or are they more reserved? Do they pace and leap about excitedly in videos they post? Remembering these visual cues helps me when I think about how my client would deliver the words I am writing for them.
If you create content for your own clients, the above are tips you can carry with you as you write for them. Keep your customer’s voice in your head. Imagine them speaking the words of your text. Does it sound authentic for THEM? No two clients are alike. Your writing should reflect that.
Do you create content for your clients? I’d love to hear your tips for getting to know your client’s voice.
Bernadette Geyer helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives expand their reach through clear, concise, and compelling copy in English, so that they can attract more customers with consistent and memorable marketing content. Her “Rule Your Digital Domain” service helps businesses make sure their website and social media profiles are working to attract more customers. You can see her full list of services here.