• Patrick Smith

Telephone Voice

We are all being told that content is the future of marketing and to progress in this world we must keep creating content (such as this very post).

That is true, but like any piece of business advice, it is only true to an extent. For content to work from a marketing perspective, the content we create must be good. Like all of our marketing it must address the two fundamental questions:

- What do we want to say?

- Who are we talking to?

But even assuming that it does answer those questions and addresses the right audience with the right message, it must still be well produced.

Even with all the new technology that abounds, and the fact that we can all create videos or podcasts on our mobile phones, written content is still the easiest to produce - but not always the easiest to produce well. And in fact marketing professionals are sometimes the worst at it. Following the mantra they tell their clients many PR agencies think they must regularly blog, but rarely do I read a PR agency’s blog without thinking, “well that’s two minutes of my life I won’t get back!”

I hope my content doesn’t make you think that. But if you’re not enjoying this post yet - save yourself a minute and stop now.

One of the main problems with creating all forms of content, but especially written content, is that people think that they must use their ‘telephone voice’ to do it.

You know what I mean by that don’t you? The voice that you parents or grandparents would use to answer the phone when they didn’t know who was calling. With mobiles we don’t do that any more. As we can see who is calling most people tend to answer a call with, “hello mate!” But when I was a kid your mum would go from yelling at you for getting mud on the floor to a split second later answering the phone with, “Oh, hello, this is the lady of the house.”

People no longer answer the phone like that, but many try to write their blog posts like that.

Most of the problems with writing come not because people don’t know what to say, but they get stuck because they don’t know how to say it in the ‘right’ way. Yet this elusive ‘right way’ that they are striving for is usually wrong anyway.

The people you are writing for are people. They are probably similar to you - especially if you work in a B2B industry. And they want to read interesting and compelling content.

As a language we have two types of words - those mainly derived from French and those mainly derived from Anglo-Saxon. (Obviously the language also has lots of other influences, from lots of other places, but those are the two most common.) When we try to be posh we mainly use the French derived words, we say “descend” instead of “go down”. But look at TV ads, or read good advertising copy - they will use Anglo-Saxon English, or ‘common’ English.

When you write, you need to be careful of grammar and spelling, but you should write with the kind of vocabulary that you would use with a mate, because that is what your audience should be.

If you’re stuck when writing anything, think what it is you want to say, say it out loud, then write that down. You’ll be much more likely to get your message across than if you use you ‘telephone voice’.

Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

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