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Setting the tone - your communication style, an introduction

Over the years I've worked for several different companies, all with strong communication strategies to drive growth or seek out niche markets.

One in particular I would class as 'old school' in their copywriting and communication style. (So much so in fact that I still double space after a full stop which apparently is not necessary anymore.)  They advertised in print and sent direct marketing by post every month (they were a mail-order company before the internet exploded) so everything had to be checked and rechecked in a company-wide sign-off process to avoid costly (and permanent) mistakes.  

Not only was the detail under scrutiny, but so was the style and tone of the copywriting.  Born in the era of 'complete professionalism', the text probably read in customers minds in a 1950s generic BBC accent.  I'm not saying this was bad, it probably suited the customer base who was largely 50+, and it was before the days of all the buzz of 'transparency' and 'authenticity', before people YouTubed their cock-ups and let their hair down a bit on Instagram.  

This experience has always given me a little reminder each time I write copy - is it professional, polite, light-hearted, non-political etc etc.  And then I remind myself - be your-effing-self.  If you can't be yourself when you work for yourself when can you?!

So now, I sit down to write copy or blog posts and I write freely (as much as you can). In 'real life' I am cheeky, forward, sometimes cocky or abrupt, honest, friendly, funny and quick.  I write like that and then I peel it back a bit (the 'keep it professional' coming through).  I think this is a good balancer for me, I don't want to alienate anybody.  I probably let about 25% of my personality come through in my profesional 'online presence', I hope people gather that I am playful and friendly, but ultimately good at what i do and sincere in it.

That brings me nicely to my next point.  I have always hated sales yet people have often contacted me regarding sales roles, like marketing and sales are one and the same.  They absolutely are not to me - marketing is doing everything you possibly can to win customers without having to actively 'sell', as in have sales meetings, produce too many quotes, cold call or chase new leads.  (Yes every business owner does an element of that, but it's the least enjoyable part for me.)  My aim is that through my marketing and communications you should already know if we're a good fit for each other.

So for me, marketing is better than sales.  But something is even better than marketing; sincerity.  If you love what you do and believe in your product, create it sincerely and communicate positively, marketing is easy.  So that's my guiding rule in my own communication style - be sincere.  

This translates to the business too - make thinks that you are proud to put your name to, help businesses you share values with, be yourself.

I don't think anybody can tell you how to communicate your brand but many things need to be considered in trying to be sincere and nurture some loyalty from your audience.  You have to give something to gain trust and loyalty, people want to feel something and you will need to share yourself to make a connection - how far you go depends on many factors -

  • who is your market? how do they communicate with you and each other?
  • is your product a professional service, sold B2B? If so you are also the product, people need to trust in your capabilities and professionalism. 
  • to swear or not to swear.  I swear day to day, but try not to online.
  • how far will you go with humour? none would be soooooo boring but too much can alienate your audience.
  • tone - do you want to exude energy, passion, elegance, authority? Consider what your clients come to you for.
  • be consistent - whatever you decide, go with it and have confidence

For more tips and how-tos check out our resources for all food styling, stylists and content creators.

By Sophie

Being myself on set in sequin hot pants!