For most of my career I’ve written for lots of people at the same time, putting on new brand voices every day like an actor puts on costumes.
Once I started writing in one tone of voice pretty much all the time, it should have made my life easier. But actually, it’s all too easy to get too hung up on what I want to write, rather than what my audience wants to read.
Keeping your company’s target audience front-and-centre when you’re writing marketing material is essential. Whether that’s content for your website, in your emails or on social media. What do they want? What do they need?
To keep me on track, I’ve developed a few characters who give me feedback on what I’m writing. I’m going to introduce you to some people that know a thing or two about buying websites.
Meet the gang
Brian is a solicitor. He has zero time to chat and very high standards. He’s kind of a traditionalist and has set ideas about what a solicitor’s website should be like. He doesn’t bother reading marketing emails and misses the old days when people dealt in paper.
Chloe is a hat designer and also a student. Again, she has no time but a very clear idea of what she wants from our products. Everything needs to be digital for Chloe – she’s never used a phone book in her life and has no intention of advertising in one.
Paul is a carpenter. He loves chatting on the phone but doesn’t read his emails very often. When he does connect, he’ll happily look at well-written marketing content but it’s tough prising money out of him without some serious evidence of the benefits.
Maureen is a nail artist. She is quite hard to reach as she is often out and about on home visits. She loves creative design ideas and spends her evenings poring over her website and ads to make sure they look perfect and match her brand.
Ian is a self-help book author. He works from home and knows exactly what he wants. He’ll try any kind of marketing and considers himself very switched-on but has a fairly limited budget.
So, let’s try something shall we?
I’m going to write a quick introduction for some marketing content about websites. Then I’ll ask my five characters what they think.
“Be honest. Does your website really show off how great your business is?
The digital landscape has changed and keeping up with your customers’ expectations can be tough. Search engines change, design standards change – and suddenly your site is looking dated and unloved.
Our websites are designed to adapt and grow with your business, whatever the size of your budget or the spare time in your day. This is your chance to get ahead of the competition in one easy jump.”
Ok Brian, you first.
Brian: “Sorry, I just didn’t read it. If you need to tell me something, call my secretary.”
Thanks Brian, will do. Chloe?
Chloe: “My website does actually suck but I haven’t got time to do much with it while I’m expanding the business and studying. Can I change things around myself if I buy one of these sites?”
I think you could do with a bit more information Chloe, I should have explained that better. What did you think Paul?
Paul: “What’s this digital landscape nonsense? Is it like a Google mountain? Just tell me what you’re selling love.”
You’re right Paul, it was a bit waffly wasn’t it? Maureen?
Maureen: “I didn’t really connect with it I’m afraid. I didn’t feel like it was speaking to me at all. Unless you explain things like ‘search engine standards’ I don’t really care about them as much as how my website looks.”
Sorry Maureen, I should have realised I was using some pretty dense industry stuff there. And last but not least, Ian?
Ian: “Well my site certainly doesn’t look dated and unloved. I don’t know what you’re trying to suggest. Can you talk to me without insulting all the work I’ve done on my business?”
Ian, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m supposed to offer you support and collaborate with you on growing your business, not preach my own opinions. What a fail.
I think we need a rewrite.
“Did you know that 95% of smartphone users have looked for a local business on their mobile?
If your website doesn’t look great on a smartphone, you might want to think about upgrading to one of our mobile-optimised websites. They’re easy to manage with no technical knowledge and look amazing on phones, tablets and PCs.
If you do find you could use a little help, we’re always on hand with advice. We can even look after your whole marketing program for you, so you can get on with growing your business in the real world.”
- Proof and explanation for Paul the carpenter
- Tone of a gentle suggestion rather than a lecture for Ian the writer
- Touch on how the websites look for Maureen the nail artist
- Offer of support for Chloe the student designer
- Offer of full management for Brian the busy solicitor
That’s much better isn’t it guys? Guys?
Customers are your most important critics so use their personas to guide your marketing content. Click To Tweet