Is It What You Say or How You Say It?
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” And I know it seems true, because the how is essential to attracting new customers. But I will also propose that the “what” is just as critical. Today, I’d like to share a few tips and insights to reaching your ideal audience by using the right language and voice.
Make Sure You’re Speaking the Client’s Language
Besides understanding your audience’s problems, you also need to learn how to speak their language. Every market has specific words, phrases, and acronyms they use to talk about their work. By using the terminology your audience is familiar with, you can quickly establish credibility.
“Talking the talk” attracts people to you. It says that you know your stuff and can help them solve their unique problems. Understanding their language lets you participate in the conversations that happen in your market. Using that language says you belong. That’s important. You have to belong to lead.
Where to Find Customer Language
If you have some experience in the market you are targeting, using your audience’s language can be a great advantage. However, if you’re brand new, you’ll need to work on learning the words your audience uses. One misplaced phrase, and you could kill the belief that you know what you’re talking about.
The best way to learn insider language is in one-on-one interviews with customers, prospects, or influencers. And any time you are speaking with someone in your market, take the time to ask when they say something you don’t understand. Simple questions help, like: “Can you tell me a little more about what that phrase means to you?”
Remember, the more people you speak to in your market, the sooner you’ll master your audience’s language.
Voice – The Right Style Will Attract and Engage
If there is specific language that people use in an industry, it makes sense that there are also styles of talking that work well for one audience or another—as well as styles of talking that don’t work. The style you adopt for your market is called your voice.
I have discovered my voice by practicing—a lot. You don’t find it before you begin to write or speak; you find it through writing and speaking.
If you aren’t sure what your authentic voice is yet, don’t worry. Just keep working at it. If you’re struggling, imagine you’re talking to only one person—your ideal client—over coffee. You’re comfortable and engaged and just being you.
The closer your published content gets to this kind of voice, the more people in your market will become attracted to working with you. Keep in mind, though, that your voice will often be shaped by what’s appropriate for your audience.
On the one hand, your voice should be as unique to you as your personality. It’s what will help you when you write articles and blog posts, when you are interviewed on podcasts, and when you take the stage to speak. On the other hand, your voice also needs to avoid driving away your audience. You need to fit in with your market. It’s a balancing act.
Here are five tips about how to shape a voice of your own.
Tip #1: Stand for Something
Take a position. If you have strongly-held beliefs about how your area of expertise should work, become an evangelist for that way of thinking. I’m not saying you should complain or whine but do advocate and defend your position.
For example, I have a deep dislike for rotating homepage sliders on agency websites. Now, there’s a chance you have a rotating slider. Hearing me talk about them might make you feel something—good or bad—and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If I can state my position and sway you to my way of thinking on this one issue, there’s a better chance I can attract your attention long enough to convince you to engage with me in a deeper relationship. And that’s what I really want.
Tip #2: Be Contrarian
Not everyone feels the same way about popular ideas, concepts, or trends. If you consider the size of a typical market, you’ll almost always find a percentage who disagree with the conventional position.
You can take advantage of this fact to make your content and message stand out. If everyone is publishing ideas that reflect the majority opinion—and no one represents the minority—you’ll attract more attention by stating the contrary opinion. And you’ll have a better chance of getting all of the minority on your side (rather than just a small percentage of the majority). That’s the power of holding a contrarian view to attract the minority of a market.
However, being a contrarian doesn’t mean simply complaining. Even though you are presenting a less popular counterpoint to the mainstream opinion, remember to keep things positive.
Tip #3: Remember That Professionalism Is Subjective
When I first started my business, I believed I was supposed to communicate a certain way. Most of the style I developed was based on how the big companies did it.
The problem, of course, is that these companies were not my company. Emulating the way they spoke put me at a disadvantage. Instead of relying on my unique abilities and my small size, I tried to compete head-to-head with the goliaths.
I tried to hide the fact that we were two guys living in a loft in downtown Denver, building websites and apps from home. I would insert a lot of extraneous garbage into the content we wrote about our business to make us seem much bigger than we were. I understand now that we could have communicated professionally without acting like we were something we weren’t.
Here’s the kind of language we first used: “Our leadership team has been developing web applications for over two decades combined. We have a global team of talent that can help build your online business.”
And here’s the kind of thing we should have said: “We’re two young and hungry guys that can’t wait to write code to help your business grow. We’re in such demand that we searched the globe and found two more people in Poland—and they just might be the most talented developers in the world.”
Which of those descriptions stands out to you? As a smaller shop, you don’t have to attract everyone—just a few of the right customers.
Tip #4: Don’t Worry About Making Everyone Happy
Now, by communicating your unique market position, you’ll likely repel people who aren’t right for you. That’s something you need to be okay with. Deciding that they don’t want to work with you could be considered an indicator that you’re doing things right. You don’t want to repel the “good fit” clients, of course, but neither do you want to waste your time with clients who aren’t right for you.
Tip #5: Keep It Positive and Relevant
Do your best to avoid complaining or being negative in your content. The purpose of the content you produce is to inspire your audience into taking action and investing in your services. Even when you identify problems and issues your audience might be experiencing, you want to frame the situation as an opportunity for change.
Focus on what matters to your audience and the issues they’re trying to overcome. Keep your content relevant to your target audience and stay positive as best you can.
The 5-A Framework
The power of the framework can’t be denied. It’s not science-fiction, but the science behind it works. Applying the 5-A Framework techniques will help you own your market. Next time, we’ll check back in with Heather Carlyle to see how she took her next steps in the framework process, integrating Awareness and Attract to her plan.
If you would like to chat with me to see if we would be a good fit to help you own your market, be sure to apply for our free strategy session. There’s no obligation, and I firmly believe the value you get from it will be worth your time.