Set the tone for your biz – finding your ideal voice

by on July 14, 2014

Set the tone for your biz - finding your ideal voiceThis post is sponsored by Visa Business.

Did you know that you have a voice? Any business, no matter how small or large, has one.

What do I mean by voice?

I mean the tone of your communications. How you come across in your content. What your copy says about you and your biz. The personality that shines through your words.

This happens online (via your website, blog and social media profiles), as well as offline (via brochures and sales letters) and in each and every interaction with your business online or off.

Your tone or voice absolutely affects how your audience perceives you and your business. They will develop ideas of what kind of business you are. Your communications are part of your brand experience, and the tone and voice you choose to use is very important. Above all, you want to resonate with your target market, making your ideal people feel that your business is right for them.

As a small business owner, you might be struggling to find that tone, especially if writing and communications is not your thing. You might not be sure what kind of voice to use. Or perhaps you’ve never even thought about it at all!

As a copywriter, I live and breathe tone and voice on a daily basis. I develop this tone for clients, and I have my own personal tone in every blog post I put out and throughout my website. So I think about it a lot. In fact, I’m currently in the process of revamping my online communications to make them a better reflection of me, so I thought it was the ideal time to write a post on this topic and share some of my insights into finding YOUR voice.

What works for everyone

Finding your voice and your tone is a personal, unique to your business kind of a thing. BUT, there is a certain general guideline that is crucial to any business, in my personal opinion – a conversational tone, whether it’s for your website copy, your blog articles or your social media posts.

One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses making time and time again with their content is trying far too hard to exude professionalism, to the point that they sound very boring at best, or like robots, at worst. Tone in content is crucial to making it interesting to read. So I always recommend, no matter what industry you work in, to make your content sound like you have your customer right in front of you and you are talking to them. Which segues perfectly into the next point…

Talk to your customers

If you’re struggling to find a tone or a voice that works, think about your customers. How would they like to be talked to? If your target market is 18 – 35-year-old women who are into fashion and appearances, you’re going to want to communicate in a very different way than you would to a middle-aged IT executive. So to get yourself going, think about how your customers talk and use that as a guideline. Forget for now what you learned in high school about writing an essay or in business school about writing a report. Write for a real live person.

Brand is important

How you have positioned your brand is also very important. Personally, I want my brand to radiate positivity and joy – hence the name Small Business Bliss. But when looking over some of my old posts, there is a disconnect and I don’t feel that resonance.

I was experimenting with a harsher tone that I thought sounded clever and screamed ‘take notice’, but I took it too far and it ended up sounding nothing like me in the end. So I do cringe a little when I revisit some of this older content, but I just adjust it to fit better with ME and carry on.

What are your values? What do you stand for? What is your brand all about? Your tone must be consistent with that.

How about your industry?

You might think that a good tactic is to emulate how everyone else in your industry sounds, but more often than not with my clients, I advise the complete opposite!

Sometimes going against the grain can be an awesome thing that can really differentiate you from all the other businesses in your market, especially if there is a lot of ‘me too’ communications going on.

The classic example is ING Direct (now Tangerine). They turned marketing in the banking world upside down with their direct, honest, to the point communications. I remember when I first saw the ‘I’m a client – let me in’, call to action and how it immediately struck me as so original. Rather than the conservative and bland communications banking is know for, they approached things a little differently, and that worked for them.

Don’t forget yourself

As a small business owner, you absolutely play a role in your tone and voice. If you are the main focus behind your biz, then sounding like “you” is where it’s at. But even if you’re not, more likely than not you have developed your brand and your positioning around something that resonates with you. So let that personality shine through. After all, you are the secret sauce to your marketing.

Should I just hire someone to write for me?

If you struggle with writing, hiring a professional writer can be a huge help and can free up your time to focus on what you’re really good at (feel free to get in touch with me if this is the boat you find yourself in).

Hiring someone, though, does not mean that you lose your personality. A good copywriter can work to create a voice that is you. A copywriter can also give you insight and expertise into good writing that you would not have thought of, such as the importance of taking jargon out of your content, sounding more human and approachable or addressing directly how awesome you are. A good writer also knows how to rein things in and keep things professional and engaging, if you perhaps have a tendency to go a little far with exclamation points or smiley faces, for example. 🙂

The process of finding your voice

With the above considerations in mind, let’s look at some ways we can work at finding our small business voices…

  • Get writing. Don’t be afraid to go too far. Be willing to push some boundaries and see what flows out. Your instinct might be to play it safe, but that more often than not translates to really boring content. So try to push the envelope at first. You can always backpedal and take things back a notch (or four). Write whatever comes to mind and don’t worry about quality at this point. Just get your ideas out.
  • Once you’ve allowed it to flow, let it sit for a bit and then come back to it. How does it feel? Part of knowing your voice is knowing what it isn’t. Keep what feels good and feels right; ditch the rest.
  • Ask for an outside opinion. Sometimes, especially if you wrote it yourself, you’re too close to the content. An outside perspective can point out inconsistencies or hesitations that maybe you did not consider, and can honestly tell you if it sounds authentic.
  • Write a lot. Writing, like any skill, is about practice, practice, practice! Jot down ideas in a notebook. Use your blog posts as an arena for playing around with your voice – it’s the perfect medium for experimentation, since they can be changed so easily and for most intents and purposes are less visible and critical than more permanent website pages, and certainly anything that actually goes to print.
  • Read a lot, too. Notice tone and voice that you like with other businesses. Notice what you don’t like. Use this an inspiration.
  • Know that it might take a bit of time to find the right tone and don’t be afraid to change direction. As your business evolves, so might your voice (or your branding for that matter).

Finding your voice is a process and it will take some experimentation…try to have fun with it and remember your target audience and who you are trying to help and serve with your business. Let them be your motivation. But above all, stay true to what feels good to you.

On to you. How did you find the voice for your business? Did you get it bang on right from the start or did you have to make some shifts? Would love to hear about your personal experiences in the comments.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit

Image courtesy of: Gualberto107/

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Enviro Equipment, Inc. July 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Get figuring out how to have the distinct business ‘Tone’ may be issued for marketing or advertising companies, but it certainly isn’t for those of us involved in industrial businesses. The only effort we make is trying to make sure we clearly say let me mean to say so that there’s no ambiguity (or clerical errors) in our business correspondence. If one chooses to say that is ‘Tone’, so be it.


Martina Iring July 15, 2014 at 9:17 am

Hi Ken, Thanks for checking out the post and sharing your 2 cents. I will share my own 🙂 I would say that in a business that is normally not known for being particularly interesting, such as the industrial sector, developing a personality in content would be a great way to differentiate your business and brand. You can still be professional and clear, but injecting a little personal touch could just be what makes you memorable and likable and makes your communications more enjoyable to read. Appreciate your comment!


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: