I love hot sauce. It’s my superfood crush. I’d declare it a food group if I could – and I may! It adds spice and flavor, and can turn something bland into something truly awesome. That gets me thinking about how every business has a secret sauce – a lens through which it sees the world, writes about it and acts. Your secret sauce is your voice – it’s what makes you, well, YOU. Every business has a personality and a voice.
This is critical to content differentiation. Way too much marketing sounds the same. Pick up any high-tech press release, just as an example. Scratch out the name and put it next to 5-6 competitors. Can you tell which company wrote which piece? Exactly!
We have all read way too much of this stuff. It’s not written for humans. I’m not really sure who that stuff is written for, actually.
Here’s the thing – it should be written conversationally. This is where having a consistently identifiable human voice – whether it’s smart, funny, witty, or incisive (or all of them!), for instance – can make a big difference.
Content’s Human Voice
MarketingProfs’ Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley, and I discussed this exact principle on my podcast. Is it clear what your human voice is? Here’s an exercise that will help you figure it out.
Take your website or a piece of long-form content (an ebook, white paper, etc) that your company has created. Then, take similar pieces of content from your competitors – or companies that are similar in your industry. Here is the litmus test: Do they read similarly? Do you stand out? How?
It’s possible to have a great tone – smart, fun, helpful – in B2B. Marketo is a great example. They produce great content – ebooks, coloring books (yes, coloring and activity books!), white papers, etc – that are fun, human, smart and consistently written in an engaging, helpful way.
Human is More Than Your Voice
Of course, being human in business is far more than just your tone. However, your human voice is an important component of the overall human to human experience that customers and prospects will have. When it comes to products that are commoditized, the perceived rational benefits are similar. These are the benefits you are expected to have to be competitive. So what sets companies apart, then, are the personal benefits and the human connection. That’s where companies can shape an important perceived differentiation.
Decide who you are and what your human voice is. Then, consistently weave that across everything you do. Claim your space and own it consistently – or your competition will.