As back-to-school season is in full swing, I’m reminded of when I started ninth grade.
Academics was not my biggest concern. I focused on trying to figure out what I wanted other students to think of me. Class clown? Nerd? Grunge type of guy? I was essentially trying to determine – what is my brand voice?
It is a question you must answer every time you work on a landing page, print ad, radio commercial, email, etc.
To help you determine how to “talk” to your potential customers from your company, read on for examples from Pedigree, a freelance marketplace, and a marketing agency.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
My two favorite artist/celebrities are Jerry Seinfeld and Eddie Vedder.
They are both amazing writers, brilliant creatives, groundbreaking in their field, and have a loyal fanbase.
But watching interviews with them, I realize each has a very different brand voice.
Jerry is authoritative, sardonic, exalted, polished and aggressive.
Ed is humble, contemplative, muted, unrefined and passive.
And they are both clearly passionate about their respective crafts.
I start with the brand voice of two well-known people because it helps to think of your company’s brand voice in very human terms. As Flint McGlaughlin, CEO, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, says in this quick video, “People don’t buy from websites; people buy from people.”
To help you determine the voice your brand should use to talk to potential customers, this article brings you three case studies from very different industries and includes an explanation of the voice each brand chose for its marketing.
First up, Pedigree’s approachable-yet-energetic voice in its interactive audio campaign. Then, a freelance marketplace finds a bold, unique and memorable voice for its rebranding and website redesign. And finally, a marketing agency’s business boring voice for a keyword-driven blog post.
As part of its campaign “The program of mutual loyalty,” Pedigree wanted to raise awareness of a social project aimed at the adoption of dogs from shelters, and to draw the audience's attention to the issue of homeless dogs. The team wanted to dispel myths and support those who have decided to take a new pet from a shelter with a care kit from Pedigree.
The pet food subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated used interactive audio advertising technology to reach out to music streaming listeners.
The campaign informed listeners that true loyalty is the loyalty one can get from a furry pet from a shelter – and that Pedigree will help bring an owner and a pet even closer by providing a welcome home care kit as a gift.
The ad ended with a question about whether a listener wanted to know what was included in the gift set and could understand listeners’ spoken response. Those who expressed their interest heard detailed information and were redirected to the landing page. For other answers that listeners gave, the ad briefly informed them on how to learn more about supporting pets from a shelter and returned the listener to their music.
“The campaign tone and style reinforced the brand's long-running commitment to the importance of pet adoption using an approachable-but-energetic voice,” said Stas Tushinskiy, CEO, Instreamatic (the interactive audio advertising platform used by Pedigree).
Creative Sample #1: Interactive audio campaign script
Interactive ad intro: “True loyalty is one of a pet from a shelter. Pedigree will help you and your pet get even closer, and are offering a ‘You Are at Home’ care kit. After the beep, tell me if you want to know what's included in the kit.”
Response if interested: “Pedigree’s ‘You Are at Home’ package includes veterinary insurance for a year, a dog-friendly taxi service, pet food, and personal consultants with a dog trainer. Find out more on our website; I’ll open it for you now.”
Response if not interested: “All right. By the way, you can find out more about supporting pets from shelters on the Pedigree website.”
Response to strong no: “We won’t bother you again with this offer. Pedigree takes you back to your favorite music.”
Response if silence: “Pedigree’s ‘You Are at Home’ package includes veterinary insurance for a year, a dog-friendly taxi service, pet food, and personal consultations with a dog trainer. Find out more on our website.”
Response if not understood: “Could you please repeat your answer?”
Response if not understood again: “All right. By the way, you can find out more about supporting pets from shelters on the Pedigree website.”
“A critically important component for making this new kind of audio ad successful with audiences is that interactive voice ads can understand responses in our natural language,” said Mariya Gudochkina, Brand Manager, Pedigree.
Creative Sample #2: Companion banner to interactive audio ad
After hearing the ads, 13.57% of the audience engaged in a conversation and 35.33% of the total number of spoken responses indicated interest.
Back when the company started, Aleksandr Volodarsky, Founder, Lemon.io chose a name he thought would fit without going too deep into the issue – Coding Ninjas.
“Our first experiments with Quora and organic traffic started to bring in some leads and traffic and we were trying to understand how we could convert it better,” said Ksenia Larina, Chief Marketing Officer, Lemon.io.
The team considered a redesign, but realized they needed to take a more radical approach and change the name and voice of the brand as well. “In a highly competitive market like that of vetted freelance platforms, we needed a strong brand to stand out,” said Ksenia Larina, Chief Marketing Officer, Lemon.io. “The term ‘ninjas’ has really outlived itself…ninjas, jedi, gurus and rock stars should stay where they belong — the 2015 LinkedIn. It was time to move on for us.” The brand also had to compete with many other “Coding Ninjas,” one of which was an Indian programming school.
Creative Sample #3: Before homepage for developer marketplace, with the metadata headline of “Coding Ninjas – Vetted and Tested Programmers On Demand for Agencies”
The company rebranded as Lemon.io. “We did it to stand out. Back in the day, we had a very common down-to-earth branding. Being one of the many in the market where giants like Upwork and Toptal dominate was unacceptable,” Larina said.
Part of the rebrand was a change to the brand’s voice. “The voice we had was neutral, friendly, and commercial. Now it is bold, truly unique, and beyond anything else, memorable. We center our main idea around the fact that startup owners often perceive startup culture as a cult. They feel empowered, unique, on top of the world. So, we've decided to take that idea and build an ironically ‘cult-centered’ brand. We even use old English stylistics and fonts to support the idea,” Larina said.
Creative Sample #4: After homepage for developer marketplace, with the metadata headline of “Lemon.io – Aye! Developers You’ll Want to Hire”
The website went from 4,000+ visitors on its best month to 20,000 on average after the rebranding. This 5x increase in visitors also brought an increase in sales from its $2.7 million gross merchandize value (GMV). “Despite being a startup in the market of well-established giants, we’re on our way to $10 million GMV this year,” Larina said.
The team at The BloomKing Agency was determined to get in the top ten of Google organic search results even though its new website had low domain authority.
The team used a core problem framework to write blog posts that solve problems for its target market. The agency helps B2B marketers with their content marketing strategy. A core problem the team identified was that many marketers don't know how to promote content once it's written. Content syndication is a key solution to this problem.
The team identified the problem when talking with smaller B2B (business-to-business) companies and startups as part of agency discovery discussions. Virtually none of them understood content syndication, nor its importance in content marketing. “The large clients I work with (Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, etc.) have mastered content syndication and know its importance in lead gen,” said Brian BloomKing, Managing Partner, Marketing, The BloomKing Agency.
I asked BloomKing how he settled on that problem. After all, there are no shortages of problems faced by his potential clients.
He readily realized that the largest core problems in content marketing are also some of the most difficult to rank for such as “SEO” and “lead generation.” With the site’s low domain score, the team felt they had no chance of ranking in the top ten for these problems/keywords. “I chose B2B content syndication because it has a low keyword difficulty of two, but a high cost an advertiser will pay for a click in PPC [pay-per-click advertising] of $14 (data is from Ahrefs),” he said.
The high cost-per-click (CPC) indicated to the team that this topic had good buyer intent when someone clicks on a result. “This outcome [see results below] also shows the significance of Google’s Rankbrain algorithm updates which prioritize engagement over backlinks and domain authority,” he said.
The team wrote an authoritative, 2,000-word blog post on “B2B Content Syndication: A Beginner's Guide” to help marketers solve this core problem. “I decided on ‘business boring’ [voice] because I'm trying to convey authority and be useful to solve a problem, so I didn't want to overthink it at this point. I prefer a more conversational style, but with longer ‘beginner’ blog posts it's more difficult to write that way. Maybe for my next 'pillar' post,” BloomKing said.
Creative Sample #5: Blog post for marketing agency
“In less than three months, we ranked in the top ten of Google for ‘B2B content syndication,’” BloomKing said. “It [the screenshot in Creative Sample #6] shows me between two very authoritative sites (the metadata in the screenshot is provided by Ahrefs’ browser plugin). The #12 ‘position’ is because there are four ‘people also ask’ results, which Google counts as positions.”
Creative Sample #6: Google SERP (search engine results page) ranking for website with low DR (Domain Rating), according to Ahrefs
Other long-tail-related content syndication keywords are also rising in rankings for the agency. It now outranks many larger competitors with much higher domain authority. The piece has driven 276 page views so far.
The team put a lead magnet on the page offering a free – a custom content marketing strategy playbook. The playbook offer has generated 13 meaningful engagement discussions and yielded three new clients. “Our offers start at $5,000 per month, so that is great ROI from one blog post,” BloomKing said.
“Don't just blog to publish something because you have to. Publish less often, but with greater authority. Focus on problems in your marketplace, then write an authoritative blog post that addresses a core problem your buyers are researching. It can take a few months, but Google will take notice and reward you with free, highly motivated traffic you can convert to leads,” he advised.
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