How to optimize your tone of voice to connect with your audience

Woman choosing between megaphone, microphone, and pen for Optimize Your Tone Of Voice

So you’ve arrived at the three words to identify your brand in the first part of our tone of voice guide for small businesses. You’ve graduated to part two!

This time around, we’re diving a little deeper and sharing our best practices for incorporating tone of voice into all the communication channels out there.

Remember the three words you choose to identify your brand at the end of part 1? These are the pillars of your brand and your communication.

Based on that exercise you should be able to answer a few basic questions about your brand.

  • Are you formal or casual?
  • Are you simple or sophisticated?
  • Are you aspirational or relatable?
  • How do you want your audience to feel about you?

These questions will help educate the way you craft your messages. For example, a more casual brand might use contractions and slang, while a more formal brand will their more professional and polished.

What’s the real secret to success? Don’t just focus on your message — choose the right channels. To find your channel, think about who your target audience. You need to be where they are. An older generation isn’t going to be as active on some of the newer, trendier tools, while a younger generation won’t be glued to their email.

Let’s go through all the communication channels out there and what each is best used for.

Channels To Consider With Your Tone Of Voice

Our best advice for you to connect with your target audience is to get in front of them on their favorite platforms. An easy way to do this is to survey your current customers and friends. Find out what platforms they are using the most.

Most platforms have demographic breakdowns publicly available so you can learn even more about their users. Here’s a look at a few of the different channels out there.

Face-to-face: This is the best way to connect to your customers. Your tone of voice is born from these authentic interactions and manifests itself in all of your written communications. Remember: You want all of your communications to feel like your face-to-face interactions.

Email: Another easy way to get in front of your customers with info about special events, sales, or updates. Beware the e-blast, though. Make sure your message is tailored to what your customers respond to, and avoid spamming people with irrelevant info. Most of all, give them a subject line worth opening. Write with confidence to keep them opening your future sends.

Printed handouts: Flyers about special events or cards with info about your business are helpful to give out when you’re at fairs or to keep next to the cash register for people to grab. Clear and concise is the goal. Rather than dense text, focus on bullet points with clear calls to action leading back to more information.

Online: There are a variety of online channels for you to leverage. You have to align your channel with your audience and your objectives. For example, Yelp is a channel where consumers discover new businesses. So whether you’re completing your From the Business section of your page or crafting the perfect review response, tone plays an important role in how people perceive you.

Each online channel has slightly different rules. However, two things are consistent regardless of the platform — be authentic and have great images. Authenticity shouldn’t be too tough. Images can be a little tougher. To sharpen your skills, Check out this great post on taking better photos with your phone for some tips.

Tools To Help

It’s now easier than ever to do it yourself! There are so many ways that you can optimize your brand without depending on others or spending serious money. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Mailchimp: We love the Mailchimp style guide’s section on tone of voice. It’s a great reference for a deeper dive! You can send up to 12,000 emails per month for free!

Klout: Klout is designed to help you identify influencers in every field. Find successful brands that you admire. Then you can examine how they use their tone of voice across channels to communicate with their customers. Take away and apply best practices to your own business.

Grammarly: Make your writing shine. No, seriously. This Chrome plug-in is about to change your life. It will automatically edit your writing (emails included) and make recommendations for improvements as you go.

Hemingway: We’re not making any promises, but this super helpful writing website is going to take you to the next level. You just copy and paste your text and it gives you a reading grade on a scale of 1-20. The lower the grade the better. Top brands typically score under 7.

PicMonkey: Photo-editing software is often expensive and hard to navigate. PicMonkey is neither. Try it for free or join for $7.99 a month. That’s cheaper than Netflix!

Canva: Say it with us: free templates! Customize ‘em to your heart’s content with their easy-to-use design tool. You can create brand design standards that you can reuse again and again. This tool is loved by small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike.

That’s it for now. The good news? You’re ready to take your tone of voice and messaging to the next level on whatever channels work best for your business.

Don’t wait to use your newfound knowledge, though. Log on to Yelp for Business Owners now and apply some of these best practices to your business page. You can perfect your About the Business section, craft the perfect review response, and generally just make your business page shine its brightest.

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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.