For a long time, brands have been afraid of showing their true personalities via the content they’ve created.
They haven’t spoken to their customers and prospects in a genuine voice that reflects who they are and what’s important to them.
Instead, they’ve tried a bit too hard to appear like a trustworthy and intelligent authority.
And this is a shame. It’s a shame because these brands don’t sound unique. They don’t sound like them. Instead, they sound generic.
Overdoing the tone of authority can lead your writing to sound indirect and impersonal, while sounding clever for the sake of it tends to be counter-intuitive.
The most important thing about the content you create is that it resonates with your prospects and customers. It has to make them want to know more about you. And the best way of doing that is by writing in a clear, direct and helpful way.
By writing in a style that fits your brand.
It turns out the best way to build trust is to be yourself. If you can be yourself, the kind of customer you’re aiming for will like you. They’ll relate to you.
This article is about the dangers of trying to sound like everyone else. In it, I’ll explain how you can avoid this, and how you can use content to show your brand’s personality.
The problem with trying to sound clever
I get it. You want to be seen as an expert in your market. You want to sound like an authority who can be trusted.
But there’s a big difference between being knowledgeable about a topic and trying to sound clever for the sake of it.
I think the famous copywriter Robert W. Bly said it best when he said “write simply and you’re the reader’s friend. Write pompously and you’re a bore.”
David Perell uses a great analogy of welcoming people to your website being a bit like welcoming guests to your home when you’re hosting a party.
So let’s imagine two website home pages as parties, using David’s analogy.
In the first, after welcoming you the host rambles on for half an hour using complicated vocabulary to explain the drawn-out process he went through to buy his home.
And in the second, the host welcomes you, hands you a beer, quickly shows you around in a clear and helpful way, and then introduces you to a couple of other guests.
Which party would you rather go to?
Be clear and direct
Another common problem that gets in the way of clear and direct content is that we’ve all been taught at school or University to write in an academic style. So this is just how most people write when they decide their brand needs to create content.
Writing this way is fine if you’re explaining the impact of the plague on Medieval European societies. But it’s not so good if you’re trying to explain what you do to the prospects who visit your website.
One of the first things copywriters are taught is to forget how they were told to write at school, unless they’re writing an academic-style white paper or a report on research findings.
And even then, it’s best to keep things as clear and simple as possible.
People do business with brands that they like
Another problem with trying to sound clever for the sake of it is that your customers and prospects end up feeling like you’re talking at them rather than to them.
This doesn’t exactly endear them to you.
And wanting your prospects to like you is often overlooked. People prefer to do business with brands that they like.
In Robert B. Cialdini’s best selling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he lists being liked as one of the most important factors in getting prospects to say yes to what it is that you’re offering.
Cialdini suggests that people are more likely to like people who are similar to them, as well as those who pay them compliments, and people who cooperate with them towards a mutual goal.
The first and last of these three points are the most interesting ones to us if we’re thinking about creating content:
People like those who are similar to them, and people who cooperate with them toward a mutual goal.
Remember who you’re writing content for
Remember that when you write content you’re aiming for what you write to resonate with your ideal customer. That is, the specific profile of customer that you’ve decided your product or service is perfect for.
Your objective in the content you create should be to mirror this ideal customer’s worldview. Hopefully you’ll already have done some market research to understand what matters to this person. You’ll know the answers to some important questions:
What worries them?
What motivates them?
If you can demonstrate in the content you create that your brand has something in common with your ideal customer - whether that’s a specific belief or the values that your brand has - then your chances of resonating with that prospect increase.
Sounding generic - like every other company out there - doesn’t cut it. Your ideal customer is looking for a unique voice that you can provide.
And what about cooperating with them towards a mutual goal?
Well, what’s exactly what you’re attempting to do with the content you create. The goal is to help your ideal customer to become more knowledgeable and, in the process, establish yourself as an authority in your market.
How you can use content to show your brand’s personality
At the beginning of this article I talked about the idea of brands being afraid to be themselves.
Another reason for this - aside from an obsession with sounding authoritative - is that a lot of brands are still trying to appeal to everyone.
They want everyone to be a potential customer.
But, as I wrote in a previous article, it doesn’t make sense to try and attract everyone. The point of focusing on your ideal customer means that you aren’t focusing on a large portion of the population.
And in many ways, this is a comforting realisation. It means that you can write about your brand’s beliefs and values without the pressure of worrying whether they’ll put some consumers off.
Your offer isn’t for everyone.
Find your brand’s voice
By being open about your beliefs and values on your website and in other content that you create, you open yourself up. You’re not hiding anything. Your cards are on the table, and the kind of customer you’re hoping to attract will thank you for it.
So think about how you can transmit your brand’s values via your content.
Perhaps transparency is important to your brand. If so, how can you demonstrate this transparency?
You might decide to release a short weekly article or video on your brand’s learnings that week. Where have you gone wrong? What experiments have revealed unexpected results?
Your brand might really value collaboration. If that’s the case, and you think it’s something that would also appeal to your ideal customer, you could set collaboration as a sub theme in your content strategy.
You could write individual articles around the theme of collaboration and even create a cornerstone content page on your site that summarises your brand’s thoughts on it.
Spend some time thinking about the tone of your content, too.
Do you feel like the tone you’ve written in up to now has genuinely reflected the type of brand you are and the product or service that you offer?
Does the tone of your content mirror how your brand sees the world?
If you consistently write content that’s true to what you believe as a company, and content which is written to resonate with a specific ideal customer, you’ll create a unique voice and personality for your brand over time.
Your audience will recognise your style, your tone and your values.
And you’ll build trust and authority without having to appear authoritative.
I create content for brands that helps them to build a unique personality and connect with their ideal customer.
Find out more about my services, here.