When I think of voice in a marketing context I think about the first steps we take in communication. Those steps are tentative and often unsure. It’s where we first tell our story to others outside of our immediate sphere. It’s the true test of whether our “pitch” just sounded great inside our own heads or whether it actually resonates with the people we want it to reach.
That’s the scary bit – how will they (everyone else) react to what we say. Will they laugh? Will they yawn? Or will this pitch be, just another contributor to the noise they hear every day?
The danger here is to jump to a communication channel
that removes you and your voice from the dialogue.
It’s not the 1950′s anymore. Customers want to be interacted with. They want to be paid attention to. And if they are, they’ll reward you with their business. Doesn’t it make sense to speak to as many of these as you can before you ramp up your communications?
Your Secret Weapons
You have two highly impactful secret weapons here in your marketing communications arsenal. The first is “your own voice” and the second is “your two ears”.
Your own voice holds a resonance and truth that cannot be denied when you tell your story. That’s the story of your brand, your journey, your product, why you created it and so on.
When they get that, they’ll be in a position to make a decision about whether they’ll buy from you or not.
The next step is to listen. And here’s where those two ears in your marketing communications arsenal come into play. When you use your voice to communicate with someone, you get to see and hear their responses. You’ll get to know which bits resonated, which buttons you pushed, which problems you solved.
Truly Listening will Make
Your Voice Even Stronger.
Let’s reflect on the old marketing communications model.
What I love about this video is that it was created in 2007 and it still resonates today. It highlights what we need to get right in the relationship between ourselves and our customers.
I’ve an exercise I do when I’m working in group formats.
We start this exercise with standing.
Here’s how it works. Say there’s 10 or 20 people in the room. And there’s a bell and you have 2 minutes each to pitch your business. That’s 4 minutes in all.
The objective is to take your carefully crafted “elevator pitch” and then with each person in the group you pitch.
Until the bell goes.
And then you swap partners.
Just imagine the noise. That’s deliberate remember. It’s what the world is like out there when you’re trying to communicate. It’s noisy.
And I watch. I’m wondering; did you get them to smile, take your card or even better give you an insight into what resonated with them? Did you adjust your pitch based on who you were speaking with and what they shared about themselves with you?
Or did you just shy away and let them take the whole 4 minutes? This is also quite common and something you need to change, if you do it.
Yes, it’s fast paced. Yes, it’s confusing. Isn’t that the way the world is? Did you get through? What will you do / say different next time?
When everyone sits down I ask who did you remember amidst all the conversations and why? There’s always one or two that stand out and often it’s because they listened graciously in the conversation. They’re the brands in the making. If you make us remember; you’ll have “had us at hello”.
Nobody remembers the loud ones who monopolise the conversation. Or rather nobody offers them as an example to the group – think recommendation here.
So I love this exercise. You see the cobwebs fly. You see the first tentative steps when the voice shakes. You see it get more certain, the more people listen. Then you see it grow strong.
Your voice is powerful. It just needs practice and two ears to listen.
And that forms the foundation for effective marketing communication. It is then that you’re ready to use all the other channels.
You’re ready because you listened. You used your voice to listen. And because you listened you know it will work in the channels where they (your customers) listen.
How do you listen in your marketplace? Do you use your voice to hone that skill? I’d love to know your experience.
Finola Howard is a brand and marketing strategist who is passionate about the impact that great marketing can have on business success. She sees marketing in a broader more strategic sense and works with businesses and entrepreneurs who want to grow. You can find her on Twitter (@FinolaHoward) or on Facebook (Facebook.com/HowGreatMarketingWorks).