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Marketing Voices: Changing Tones in a Changing World

June 22, 2018    |     S. R. Dolan

There are days when it feels like the only people who enjoy marketing are marketers.

To the average consumer, it can become irritating to be advertised to all day long. To the client or to upper management, marketing sometimes seems like a monumental task—or worse, a wasted effort. It’s easy to put down marketing in a world where a 15-second ad before a video can make or break one’s entire day.

Marketing isn’t easy.

But at its core, marketing is communication. Over the last few decades, it seems that we’ve lost, regained and again lost sight of this. Marketing is definitely about sales and branding, but it’s also about conversation. It’s a strange grey area between the consumer and the sale, and there are very few rules or consistencies in this monochrome playground. The most important and consistent aspect of any successful marketing strategy comes directly from your brand voice.

This means choosing your words and your tone carefully. Once upon a time, “BUY NOW! DON’T WAIT!” was good enough, but today’s consumers are looking for much more. A company that opens dialogue with its client base will create deeper, stronger bonds with its audience. The inherent risk in being this transparent is that you will inevitably disconnect with some groups by connecting with others. So it starts with picking the right audience, and then learning how to speak with that audience while growing alongside them.

Even if you run consistently successful campaigns, this short guide can help you brainstorm new ideas and areas for improvement when it comes to expressing and evolving your corporate voice.

Research

Marketing without research is essentially creating campaigns and dropping them in the sea, hoping to catch whatever random flotsam you come across. No good fisherman would ever do this, so why would a marketer settle for this?

Marketing seems overwhelming, and a lot of failed marketing campaigns are the result of lack of research that seems daunting and unnecessary at the outset. But some simple research can create some insurance for a marketing campaign. Research can be conducted in-house or outsourced to another organization. It can be broken into two types:

○ Primary Research: in-depth, time-consuming, and costly - but accurate

• Surveys

• Observation and experimentation

• Focus groups

○ Secondary Research: higher-level, accessible, affordable/free - but often very general

• Market reports, governmental data, etc.

• General research (internet, external survey results, etc.)

• Analysis of internal lists and data

Audience Selection

Once your research has helped determine where your product or offering might best fit, it’s time to choose your ideal audience. Many marketers brush over this quickly, thinking that the ideal audience will come to them. “Between 65% and 75% of new offerings fail outright or miss their revenue or profit goals,” according to Simon-Kucher & Partners, and one of the main reasons is that a product cannot just be launched freely into the market and expected to stick. Unfortunately, audiences are inundated with marketing materials every day. The easiest way to stand out from other ads (and save serious money!) is to market to people who are already interested in, or likely to be interested in, what you’re offering.

If you did quality research, you’re likely already halfway there. Using that research and your current customer base (if you have one) as a starting point, you can now create market segments of groups of disparate people who you expect to be interested in your product or service.

From there, create a persona for each of these that will help you stay focused on your marketing efforts. Make sure that you consider the beliefs, interests, and personalities of these personas in addition to demographic and/or firmographic data. There’s no perfect number of segments/personas, but having between three and six is usually sufficient.

Choosing a Voice and Finding Your Channels

Once you’ve identified your target market, it’s important to establish the voice of your brand. Yes, it should completely represent your organization’s culture, values, offerings, and position. But it should also appeal to your ideal demographic. You wouldn’t want to use complicated language and stark imagery for a children’s product, obviously. According to the Harvard Business Review, 64% of consumers say that shared values are the main reason that they have a trusted relationship with a brand. So think hard about your audience personas when you build your brand voice.

Once you’ve established a voice and you know who your audience is (and what they’re looking for), it’s time to launch your product or service and begin campaigning. Use the appropriate channels for your brand. For social media, a B2B service provider might use LinkedIn while a niche clothing startup might take to Instagram. Choose your channels wisely, as that’s where you’re most likely to find the right audiences.

Consistency & Evolution

Now that you’re running marketing campaigns on a variety of channels, it’s important to monitor them and optimize them on a regular basis. Post to social media, publish press releases, create blogs, and build influencer relationships. But be sure to maintain that voice you established throughout the process. Train all marketing employees appropriately so that you don’t have disparate representations of your brand floating around the market.

Bear in mind that though the voice needs to stay consistent, it’s also okay if it evolves. Your voice is alive; it will grow and adapt to the market and the audience as necessary. If you start out very professional but find that your social interactions are more casual, it’s okay to slowly adopt a bit of a looser tone, or begin dropping some inoffensive humor in your marketing efforts. Be creative and watch how your interactions unfold, adapting to your brand’s experiences as needed.

The Payoff

Congratulations! You haven’t just built a brand or marketing strategy; you’ve created a conversation. If your product or service is good enough, that conversation will grow into a community of engaged, avid readers and customers. Rather than just launching a company or product into the market and crossing your fingers, you’ve created value in your little corner of the market. Now is the time to capitalize on it. By continuing to grow alongside your new community and creating new ways to ask and answer questions, you’ll reap the rewards in revenue year over year.

The world has changed. It’s time to speak up, so that your brand can be heard above the din of the market. For more information on branding, thought leadership, content marketing, performance-based marketing, and more, contact us directly at throughthetrees@advantagemedia.com.

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