Undoubtedly, how we say something can be as important as what we say. Though the same message can be said numerous different ways and still communicate the same factual information, how the listener will feel about that message will depend on the tone. Interestingly, the way someone is saying something will often be at its most noticeable when things go awry:
“I don’t like your tone young man!”
“What’s with that tone?”
The gist of the message is clear enough, but the way it has been said is jarring and feels undeserved. When writing for your ideal audience it’s unlikely that the tone in your copy will outright offend them, but the wrong tone can elicit the following unwanted responses:
If your readers experience any of these, they’ll stop reading your copy faster than you can say ‘bounce rate’. The onus is then on us as content creators to write in a way that helps our readers feel positively, for example:
It’s important to learn how to write strategically, which may vary from our natural style of writing. Though we may prefer to write in colourful, long prose, for example, our current task may be to write for an audience for whom this wouldn’t connect.
So how do we identify the best tone in which to write?
The Right Tone For Your Audience
When I write about tone, I’m referring to the feel of your content. Specifically, how your reader will feel. If you’re writing with the right tone, they’ll feel like you understand their needs and know how to fulfil them. This means that they’ll spend more time reading your copy and develop a better connection with your message and brand.
Therefore, to select the right tone, as with any effort to connect with a particular group, you need to know your audience. If you haven’t created your ideal client persona before, now’s a good a time as any! Here’s some info for understanding who your ideal audience is.
Your ideal audience loves YOU!
Now that you have that person in your head, think about what you’ve identified as their needs. That are their values, what do they respect, and how does your brand provide what they are looking for?
If your ideal client wants status and wealth, then your content’s tone should be formal, factual, and aspirational. Think investment advisors and high-end consumer goods.
Achieve this by:
Appealing to your reader’s merits and highlighting the rewards that they have earned for themselves
Providing measurable proof of your claims
Avoiding exclamation marks and levity
If your ideal client wants adventure, then your content should be bright and descriptive. Think travel, exotic foods, and dance schools.
Achieve this by:
Appealing to your reader’s imagination and highlighting the benefits they’ll experience from trying new things
Writing with word pictures
Providing sensory descriptions of your claims
Avoiding long sentences and telling your reader what they should do (prescriptive writing)
If your client wants improved health, then your tone should be straightforward and reassuring. Think day spas, GPs, and nutritionists.
Achieve this by:
Appealing to your reader’s need for comfort and highlighting the benefits they’ll experience from the treatment they’ll receive
Writing with clear, simple language
Providing references to positive client-generated reviews
Avoiding jargon and flippancy
Walk A Mile In Their Heels, Hiking Boots, or Slippers
The best skill to use when finding the right tone for your copy is empathy. Imagine yourself in the shoes of your ideal client and think how you would like to be addressed. How do you want to feel when you’re reading the content? That will be your biggest clue to finding the right flavour for your writing.