Writing in the client’s voice means communicating with the brand’s personality, style, and tone.
Has anyone ever told you “You write just like you talk?” Bloggers and other storytellers take this as a compliment because it means the writing – the voice – sounds authentic, as if the writer were right there in the room talking.
In copywriting, you want to achieve that same level of familiarity using the client’s voice.
Nailing a client’s voice takes homework. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Talk to the client.
How do they describe themselves?
Who are their ideal customers?
How do they want their customers to see them?
How do they see themselves compared to their competition?
Do their current marketing materials capture their voice well? If not, ask for specific examples of what feels off.
What stories do they tell about themselves and their business?
What are some words or phrases they consistently use in person?
What are some words or phrases they never use?
Read their website and past marketing materials.
What adjectives describe your first impression? Does the business seem formal, creative, or edgy?
What adjectives would you use to describe the copy (whimsical, youthful, authoritative, hilarious, etc.)?
Does the tone match what the client says the style should be?
What words or phrases do they use often in print?
Do they tell a lot of personal stories?
Do they write in the first person?
Do they use a lot of statistics and evidence?
What assumptions do they make about their customers?
What reading level is the copy geared toward?
Do they purposely break ?
Follow their social media accounts.
How do they portray themselves to the public and their fans?
How do they respond to criticism?
Do their social media messages align with the rest of the company tone?
How do their followers refer to them?
Organize all of this useful information you’ve gathered into a notebook, spreadsheet, or Trello board and start writing. When your piece is underway but you’re not sure if the voice is right, try these suggestions:
Read the copy out loud as if you are the client. Does it sound authentic?
Use a readability analyzer to see if the reading level of your copy is similar to theirs. If not, consider adjusting your sentence length or word complexity to better match their current style.
Ask a colleague to read three articles, two from the client and the one you’re working on, and see if they can determine which one is yours. If so, compare and contrast until you can find the differences.
Before you get too involved, send the client a paragraph or two and ask if the voice is on target. If not, ask for specifics. Is the word choice off? Is an example unclear? Does the copy sound too much like you and not enough like them?
Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to nail a client’s voice. It can take time. Plus, as they gain exposure and authority in the market, their voice will evolve, making this an ongoing process.
Creating content and copy for multiple clients in multiple voices can be a challenge. But you’ll find it easier as you research well, write a lot, and ask for feedback.
For more ideas on how to write in your client's voice, have a look at these articles.
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