It’s no secret that whether you’re having a conversation with a prospect or creating sales and marketing collateral, the tone you use matters. Use the right tone, and you can successfully build your brand, promote your offerings and win more sales. Use the wrong tone, and you run the risk of diluting your brand, causing confusion and losing sales.
But how do you know if you’re using the wrong tone?
Below, we take a look at two of the most damaging tones, explain how to identify them, and offer positive alternatives.
1. Damaging: Indirect Tone
If you often find your conversations with prospects or customers veering off the topic you went into the conversation seeking to address, your tone might be too indirect or uninstructive. Similarly, if you find that people read your marketing materials, including the content on your website, and still don’t have a clear idea of what it is you do or offer, your tone might be too indirect.
Positive Alternative: Didactic Tone
You can change your tone from indirect to didactic and instructive by asking yourself the question: What does the customer need to know how to do? If you ask yourself this question during conversations and as you create your marketing content, you’ll be less likely to seem flowery, bombastic or preachy, or worse, as if you’re pleading for a sale. Asking this question will also help you stay on topic and develop a clear message.
Damaging: Apathetic Tone
Do your prospects seem actively engaged in conversations with you? Are they asking questions? Is there a fair amount of back-and-forth taking place? What about your content marketing efforts? Are you putting out calls to action and providing useful, free information? Are you visibly interacting with prospects and customers on social media? Are you developing content based on your customers’ needs, or are you simply providing descriptions of your products and services?
If your tone is too apathetic, prospects could be dismissing you as passive rather than active. When prospects don’t feel a sense of urgency, they see no reason to buy now.
Positive Alternative: Earnest Tone
You may be genuinely interested and passionate about your business and products, but if your interest and energy levels aren’t coming across, prospects may get the idea that you don’t really believe in your own message. If they think you don’t believe you, why should they?
Change your tone from apathetic to earnest by making your conversations more productive. Before meetings:
- research the prospect and review account histories,
- establish goals,
- write down the questions that will enable you to obtain key information, and
- define next steps.
When it comes to content:
- push out relevant content that is useful to your prospects (such as case studies, white papers or product reviews),
- interact with prospects and customers on social media and always respond to feedback, and
- seek to sell by developing less ad-like content and more content that addresses potential customers’ pain points.
In Successful Writing at Work, author Philip C. Kolin explains, "The tone of your writing is especially important in occupational writing because it reflects the image you project to your readers and thus determines how they will respond to you, your work, and your company. Depending on your tone, you can appear sincere and intelligent or angry and uninformed. . . . The wrong tone in a letter or a proposal might cost you a customer." At Vendere Partners, we couldn’t agree more.
Do you know what content marketing efforts you should be making in order to make the best possible impression on prospects? Click here to take Vendere’s content marketing survey.