Hi <<First Name>>

The clocks have gone forward and the sun has come out at last. So happy that spring has finally sprung in Bristol – we hope it’s lovely where you are too.

We've been writing lots about writing content this month, and it strikes us that the hardest part isn't knowing what to say, but how to say it. People will turn off instantly if they feel you’re talking down to them, or that you don’t understand them, or if they think you’re treating them like they’re stupid.  ‘Feel’ is the operative word here. Tone is something we respond to instinctively and viscerally.

Striking the wrong note

Sometimes it’s hard to put our fingers on what’s right or wrong, but we sure as hell know when we don't like it. The wrong tone can make us tense, or cross, or left out – this isn’t speaking to me - and we’ll walk away. Just check out this example from the banking world. Frightful!

The right tone of voice can switch people on or off in an instant. (Would you have even got this far if we’d started this newsletter with these words? "There is only one way to do content marketing, and that’s to pay Sonja and Sharon to do it for you.”) We doubt it - we’ll bet you would have thought either, ‘no, there isn’t’ or ‘I signed up for your useful tips, not for you to sell to me.’ Some of you might have even thought ‘that’s it, I’m off’ and unsubscribed at that point.

How do you get the tone right? 

So the words you choose, and the way you use them is hugely important. How do you get it right? We tend to go for bright and breezy and positive in this newsletter. We’re honoured that we’re writing for a fab community of people - you might be a friend or a client of ours already, or you might have signed up through the website but not spoken to us in the real world – and what links all of us is a desire to learn more about how to make content marketing work. The way we talk in this newsletter is pretty close to the way we’d talk if you joined us at Spike for a coffee (only Sonja would swear more – potty-mouthed she is, or over-enthusiastic anyway!).

The number 1 rule: be real
  • And we think that authenticity is the key to striking the right tone of voice with your content. Don’t write something that you wouldn’t be happy to say out loud. That simple rule will save you from some big tone mistakes.   
  • Understanding and respecting the people you’re writing for will help set the tone too. There’s a brilliant example of respect in action in this month’s VC Award. People need to feel that you care about them.  
  • Imagining the real person as you’re writing will rein back any sales spiel – you’ll remember how uncomfortable it feels to be on the receiving end of pushy sales messages, (and how uncomfortable it would feel to deliver that spiel) and will focus on the parts of the message that you know will resonate most with your reader.
  • Lastly, for us, keep the big picture in mind. We write this newsletter to build our business, but also because we genuinely love this stuff, and want to spread the word! So promoting the category, not your own services, is another good way of setting a tone that’s genuine and helpful.  Set the tone to build a community around what you do, and you won’t go far wrong. 
How do you tackle tone? Do you have examples of tone that’s made you warm to a company, or examples where it’s made you switch off?  We’d love to know.  Write back. Tell us here. 

See you next month! 

Sonja and Sharon

Other content you might like in March:
You're receiving this email because you signed up on our website, or you're a client or contact of Sonja Jefferson or Sharon Tanton.

Unsubscribe <<Email Address>> from this list.

Our mailing address is:
Valuable Content
Spike Island
133 Cumberland Road
Bristol, England BS1 6UX
United Kingdom

Add us to your address book

Copyright (C) 2014 Valuable Content All rights reserved.

Forward this email to a friend
Update your profile
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp