This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit lately as I re-structure and re-organize my own business.
Whether you realize it or not your business has a voice. In your email, printed material, customer interactions and blog or website your voice comes across to your customers and readers.
Think about it. What blogs and websites do you return to again and again because something about it resonates with you? Do you think you return over and over because they have good products, good prices or pretty images? Maybe to some degree, but my guess is that you keep returning because you are drawn to the voice of the website, blog or company.
Why is voice important for your business?
Experience. If you are a small business owner, your customers are buying more than just your product, they are buying the experience of working with you. If you will be working with a client on a custom order or design your voice can give them insight into what kind of a collaboration they can look forward to. If your voice is that of a company who only deals in very high-end products and high quality materials then your customers expect to experience high end and high quality. They also probably assume they will pay for that high-end product as well.
Emotion. How you feel about your business is how your customer will feel about your business. If a part of your business model is to give some of your profits to charity because it’s something you believe very strongly in, you write about the charities you work with, and why they are important to you – chances that your buyers will also be passionate about those kinds of work are great. Your shoppers will purchase from you because they know their money is going to a good cause and they experience joy in helping others.
Authenticity. In today’s media we often hear celebrities and politicians say they are AUTHENTIC. But saying you are authentic doesn’t MAKE you authentic. Your ACTIONS show your authenticity. If you present to your readers/shoppers that you are a green or eco-friendly company but you decide to include items in your shop stamped MADE IN CHINA because you think it will be a great seller and make you more money, you aren’t being authentic. If you sell fair trade coffee, buy fair trade beads and write about the process of trading fairly with others, and why it is important to you and your readers then you are being authentic. Being authentic has more to do with being true to yourself and doing what you say you will. Anything else is inauthentic and your readers/shoppers will see it (and maybe even call you on it). Your business voice should authentically and clearly reflect you, your style, thoughts, ideas or passions.
In these cases, your voice resonates with your audience which in turn helps to solidify your brand and builds brand loyalty.
Let’s look at how to find your voice.
Your story. The voice of a company, big or small, is in reality, the voice of the owner or creator of the business. In order to determine the voice of your company you need to write down the story of your business. What problem lead you to your first creation? What still excites you about your business to this day? What drives you? What are you passionate about? Write it all down. This is your story.
What adjectives would your friends, family and customers use to describe your business, website, blog etc? Go ahead, ask them to give you three words that describe your business. While you are at it, sit for a bit with the image of your business at it’s ideal place. See the location, the decor, the products, the paint on the walls and the customers you wish to have. Draw it on a sheet of paper or a napkin. Go into detail. What words do YOU use to describe this ideal business? Now take the adjectives of your family, friend and customers and look at the ones you came up with. Do they jive? If not, maybe you aren’t being authentic. Not being authentic can lead to lots of confusion about your brand. Or maybe you just aren’t “there” yet. What steps can you take today that will bring your business and voice more in line with one another?
What is your unique selling point? Your unique selling point (or in today’s marketing lingo, USP) is how you do what you do differently than anyone else. Sure, lots of people make jewelry but is your jewelry made using vintage pieces or are they pieces meant for special occasions such as weddings? It’s especially important when you are selling in a category that has lots of competition (such as jewelry) to determine you unique selling point.
And finally, ask yourself what problem you are solving. What problem does your product solve? Maybe the gemstones used in your jewelry have special meaning or energy attached to them. The protective energy of Carnelian may protect the wearer from anger or envy. In that case you aren’t just selling a Carnelian bracelet but rather a bracelet that could protect its’ wearer.
You may have had an SEO expert help with your Google rankings, and you hired the best website developers to build an amazing website but that’s not all there is to it. Getting found on the web is one thing, but having potential clients really “get you” is something else altogether. Customers and readers need to see how wonderful you are at what you do, how your company stands out from the rest, and how you can solve some of their problems, meet their specific needs, and exceed their expectations.
What is your company’s voice?
By: Vicki O’Dell, The Creative Goddess