The Fallacy of “That’s Not My Voice”

How do you capture, “your voice”? You don’t

Problem:

You’re an independent, niche business trading in technical and creative expertise; you’re so small that your name brand will never count in the way it does for the huge organizations. Billions of people around the world have heard of China.  Hardly anyone has heard of you.

Solution:

Accept that you are in the relationship game. Your business consists of 50 to 1000 1-to-1 relationships.

You can view your entire outbound marketing strategy as one of building new relationships. They might not bear fruit for a year or two or three – all the more reason to treat them as relationships.

Big orgs such as governments, political parties, and corporations know about the relationship game. That’s why they spend so much time trying to fake it.

  • They rarely send emails from real people
  • They never send emails you can respond to
  • They never speak unscripted in public (the last major presidential candidate to write his own speeches was Adlai Stevenson – in 1956)
  • Their employees must follow scripts even during live chat or phone conversations
  • They use automated business phone answering systems – and make them as un-human as possible
  • When they speak and write, they use as many cliches as possible 

This is partly because it feels comfortable to sound like a robot. At least you don’t sound like a stupid person. But it’s also because it’s hard to capture your authentic voice in writing and recorded speaking. Let alone equip your employees to do so.

We can avoid the fake-communication traps. For example, we can never, ever let an email be sent in the name of our business that doesn’t come from a real person. With a photo and a name. That customers can reply to.

And we can speak and write like a real person. But not just any real person – like you.

I think people know this instinctively but they don’t know how to make it happen.

They say, “that’s not my voice” when presented with the web copy or video script they’ve hired someone to write.

They say, “I don’t know, that’s just not my voice”.

I hear this all the time, including from my clients who are themselves marketing agencies. They complain about not being able to, “capture their client’s voice”.

But here’s the thing – there usually is no voice to capture.

If you don’t voice your thinking regularly, in public, whether speaking or writing, you don’t have a voice. And you never will.

The next best thing you can do is find a writer or speaker (ie a salesperson) whose voice fits your brand, as a surrogate.

The more talented your surrogate better, of course. US presidential press secretaries are typically quick-thinking, diplomatic, articulate, and opinionated – all at the same time. They have – usually through (speech) writing, speaking, and debate – developed their own voice. But it’s not “the voice” of the president they serve under. It’s theirs.

You have to either create your own voice or find a talented one to speak for you.

What’s not an option is someone magically creating one for you.

Best,
Rowan