Hold up. What does a copywriter even mean by “the tone”?
Any copywriter worth their salt will ask what you want the “tone” of your content to be before they start writing for you – but it’s often hard for you, the client, to find an answer.
So, to help business owners and copywriters everywhere, we have created this guide to understanding and choosing the right tone for your content
You might even be thinking, “Why is this even important? Can’t they just start writing?”
The tone of your content is vital for us as content creators to know before writing
anything for your business – get this wrong and it will require an almost complete re-write. You will read it and tell us, “That doesn’t sound like me.” Most of the time, this is simply due to the client not knowing what we meant by “tone” in the first place, so they couldn’t convey to us what they wanted
In every brief sent to a client before writing, we pose these two questions about tone;
How do you want to approach the tone of your content? (Funny, casual, professional, friendly…) Give five words that describe the tone of your business so far across your social + website.
What do you want your customer’s/clients perception of the business to be? Up-market/Professional/Approachable/Affordable… etc.
Now, you may read this and instantly know the words to describe how you want your content to read and how you want your business to be seen – or it may just completely confuse you. If it’s the latter, keep reading, we can help!
You may also have thought that those questions are basically asking for the same thing twice, but sometimes a business will want to be seen as professional and trustworthy, but also have a fun, casual vibe to their company. Knowing that, we can write their website content with a causal tone, but make sure we focus on conveying the knowledge and validity of their brand.
Here is an example to give you an idea of how the tone and content are linked…
Business X – Quirky, up-market inner-city bar, run by young, vibrant owners.
They are looking to attract fun, young professionals, so they want to be seen as fun, different, and a place for a good night out.
To attract those people, their tone words are; Quirky, fun, up-beat and current.
They want their business to be seen as; Unique, fun, up-market, and the place-to-be.
When writing their content, we use all that to help us create something like this:
Bored by stodgy old pubs, but nightclubs aren’t your scene?
Come drink with us and have a weekend worth talking about round the water cooler.
We have created your happy place, right in the middle of the action here in Perth, with live music, locally crafted drinks for all tastes, and lashings of atmosphere. After-work drinks have never tasted so good…
It’s young, fun, up-beat, and creates the sense that this is the place to go for a good night out if you have classer tastes, but still want a fun time.
Can you see how their tone words, quirky, fun, up-beat and current, as well as how they want to be seen, unique, fun, up-market, and the place-to-be, really help us understand how their content needs to be written to give readers a real sense of the business.
If all they told us were the facts; location, owners, services, etc. and we wrote boring, run-of-the-mill copy, then how will visitors to their website know it’s a place they will want to spend their time?
Writing for the target audience means you are speaking to the people you want to do business with, the ones who will think, “This sounds like me. I have to visit this place, it is exactly the kind of bar I will love!” That’s the type of targeted copy you need to attract the right people to your business – otherwise visitors will never become customers or engage with your business.
How to find your tone.
Here are 4 steps to help with figuring out the tone of your content – grab a pen and paper and scribble down whatever words come to mind with each step
- Firstly – who are you?
Are you friendly, funny, knowledgeable, honest, professional, relationship-focused, serious, shy, out-going… You are the person behind the brand, the person running the show, and the way you operate is often organically a result of who you are. People buy the person, not the product.
- How do you run your business?
Is it all about people, connecting, engaging, family-operated, and so on? All those things are also major selling points. If your target audience are the people who you can build relationships with, will be your loyal customers and you pride yourself on the caring service you offer, all that HAS to be communicated through your content and its tone!
- What do your customers already say about you?
Do they say you are warm, caring and professional, or friendly, trustworthy and competent? Read any reviews or thank you emails you have and see what words keep coming up. Your website meets people before you do, you want it to represent you well, but also authentically!
- What do you want people to say about your business?
If you have done any business development or marketing, you know the kind of associations you want people to have with your business and brand. What words do you want to come to mind when people think about your business? Quality, experience, affordable, genuine, service, etc.
Now read the words you have written down – do they resonate with you and your business? If they do – you have found your tone!
As copywriters, our whole purpose in life is to create copy which is engaging and compelling, and most importantly, authentic to you and your business. We want it to attract your target audience and showcase the personality of the people behind the product, so every visitor will want what you are offering.
Here’s hoping the whole concept of tone makes much more sense to you now, and you’ll know exactly what to put down next time you cross paths with a copywriter!
Feel free to get in touch with us for any copywriting you might need, or if you have questions about tone, content or life in general– we’ll do our darndest to help!