How to Write with Authority Part Three: Tone

Welcome back! So far in this series, we’ve looked at the active voice, and how to stay relevant with your content. Today, we look not at what you say, but how you say it: tone.

When we speak, our tone conveys emotion and thoughts. Whether we say a sentence high or low affects how our listener interprets the information. Obviously, written language lacks a tone of voice – but, as you know, a good writer can still create a powerful tone through their language. The goal in content writing is to convey expertise through your words, but creating an aura of authority demands attention, too.

Tone is the foundation of authority – too casual and you lose credibility, but too aloof and you risk alienating your readership. You want to connect with the reader and their interests while also maintaining a position of expertise.

Breaking Down Barriers

Richard Pomes, Partner at RapJab marketing agency, states that “Due to years of being advertised at, people have evolved their metaphorical walls to block out messaging that doesn’t resonate with them on a personal level.” Gone are the days where marketing can rely on raw advertising power to spread their brand. Instead, to get your word out there, it has to connect with customers.

Pomes goes on to state: “Your brand’s personality and voice are what allow your business to make a personal connection with your audience.” Written content is an excellent way to reach out to your customers, particularly for a service-based company such as marketing agencies, real estate, or law firms.

Brand Identity

To start, identify the image you want to convey with your blog. Are you a hip and trendy establishment, or purely professional? Understanding your own brand is key – you can’t convince your readers of something when you don’t know what you’re trying to say in the first place. Pick a few words that best describe the tone you’re aiming for, and shoot for consistency in everything you write.

Finding your brand’s voice is an integral part of building your authority as an author. Not only does it show the voice you want your company to have, it also connects the reader directly to your content. When you write a new post, you need to choose an objective and tone. Keep in mind consistency and write in line with your other marketing materials. If your post is about your new products, for example, pick a voice that matches the product. If you’re writing about tips related to your field, then you want to match your company’s image – while also maintaining an instructional, authoritative tone.

The idea behind finding a brand identity here is to also find a writing persona you wish to embody. This is what makes you different from the competition, so spend time thinking this through. Your persona is the face you show to readers, and can be the first point of contact for new clients, so this is the impression you will make on newcomers.

The Expert Voice

Regardless of your individual brand’s identity, you need to write in the expert voice. This is the tone an expert on a subject has when they’re describing their specialty. The goal is to cut out wishy-washy, qualified, uncertain language and convey a sense of expertise. This tone is what you think of when you hear the word “authoritative.”

An easy way to start using the expert voice is to cut out your qualifiers. Words like “can” and “might” save you the legal trouble of unqualified claims, but when you actually know what you’re talking about, it only serves to undermine your authority. Following your advice, for example, doesn’t mean you “can” get a better deal – it means you absolutely will!

Expertise is half knowledge, half performance, and underperforming on the latter half won’t win you any favors. It’s not arrogant to know what you’re talking about, so flaunt your knowledge and write with confidence.

Writing in the expert voice goes hand-in-hand with our previous topic – active voice. When you use them together, you demonstrate authority. The expert voice is like a command, it’s not about what you can do to achieve a goal, but what you should do. You want to demonstrate to your readers that your advice is the most valuable tool around. Confidence in your own knowledge, as well as word choice and structure, are important to proving your authority.

Customer Connections

Consistent tone is crucial for consistent results. At the same time, genuine human connection is a fundamental element of successful content marketing. Depending on whether your business is B2B or B2C, you should consider the level of formality of what you write. When writing for the general public, for example, avoid overly technical terminology and simplify your content. Overuse of jargon can alienate a reader, making them feel condescended to or left out of the conversation.

Readability is another major element to your tone. The most common metrics for readability are based on syllable density and word choice. Another reason not to use jargon is because it drives down your readability and makes your writing inaccessible to a wider audience. Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re a consultant to other businesses in a similar field, but if you want to sell more goods and services to customers, this won’t help.

The level of formality you should write with varies based on your client base, as well as your industry. An intimate tone might work very well to win over customers in settings such as healthcare, but will most likely scare off clients for legal firms! Professionalism sometimes matters more than intimacy. It’s worth noting, however, that you can still maintain a level of professionalism while connecting with your customers – it’s all about how you frame your services and the context in which you write.

Overall, the tone you strike with your written content determines how your readers will relate to your brand (or not!) and it’s vital that you have a strategy before you write. Authority comes from writing as a professional, to a client interested in your services without condescension, while simultaneously balancing your brand identity.

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Cody Michaels

Cody Michaels is part-time writer, full-time nerd. Receiving his degree in history from the University of South Florida, most of his time is spent on the computer -- writing, researching, or reading.

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