Copywriting Tricks: Nailing the Voice

Professional copywriters are well-familiar with what's commonly referred to as "the voice." What is this exactly, and why do you need to master it in your writing?

If writing is icecream, then "the voice" is the flavor in your scoop. You may be slurping on mellow vanilla, while I'm over here crunching Rocky Road. Sure, we're bothing having a cold and creamy treat, but our waffle cones are packing two entirely different tastes. So it is with the "voice" that carries your message in writing.

Another way to say this: the voice is the personality that comes across by way of your written message. When you set pen to paper or get those keys clicking, what comes out is your own voice or chosen style of expression.

The words and intonation you choose may be very different than what I'd use. That's the variance in the voice. You must nab this for your copywriting clientele if you want to impress people!

Questions to Ask When Writing Web Copy:

1. Who am I speaking to?"

By identifying your target audience, you'll be able to adopt the correct voice, or tone and style of the copy to create a message that will resonate in the mind of the consumer. To properly convey the message, you must first Learn the Language.

2. "How can I insert a bit of the client's personality into my web copy?"

Why is this important? Because the project is not your copy; it will belong to and be representative of, someone else's business. That someone else is doing the "speaking" on the site. You're simply the "copy cosmetician" - here to make them look good!

Therefore, your copy should:

- Touch the target audience and make them instantly respond
- Speak through the seller in a way that reflects their brand and philosophy

How will you learn to "hear the voice" of your client's personality?

1. Study his emails closely.

Memorize the way he arranges his words. Do the words meander languidly, with transitions bridging thoughts? Or does each short sentence stand staunchly alone?

What tone comes across? Are you picking up matter-of-fact, or are you hearing light and breezy? Is this person bubbly like a teenager, or serene as a shaman? If your client's natural inflection is in alignment with the brand creation, then by all mean lift the best parts to use in the final presentation. By this I'm not suggesting you plagiarize; I'm simply saying, "carry the essence of them with you as you create."

Would your client say, "Try it and see for yourself..." or is she more of a "Gotta Get It Now!" kind of gal? This is HER site, so try imitate her as best as you can while still preserving the continuity of the theme. You should be able to hear it in your mind. If you still can't nab "the voice," then...

2. Literally listen to her speak.

If your client has an existing site, is there audio on it? If so... take a listen every now and again so that you can get a sense of how she expresses herself. Memorize the intonation she uses when addresses her audience. Once you can "hear it" - can you translate that voice into sizzling copy? Can you slip in a signature saying of hers that's in line with the project's mission?

Of course, maybe your client really isn't a strong communicator at all, which is often the case when someone's hired a copywriter. If so... instead of looking to the client for brand identity, you'll rely heavily on the tone of the typical customer and base the branding message around that.

How does the key customer communicate? Maybe the tone is serious and formal; maybe it's light and casual. Practice "warm and friendly" versus cool and informative. Try your hand at 'soft and easy,' then switch it up to "Exciting and urgent!" (Did you notice what a difference the exclam made there?)

Read your copy draft aloud, using the exact tone that you imagine your customer would want to hear. Try to envision this copy being read in a television commercial. How's it sound?

Even in something as simple as a greeting hello, just a few variations on punctuation and word choice can convey a certain feeling or personality. What 'voice' do you hear coming across in these simple salutations?

Hi there!
Hey there...
Hey, you.
Hello, everyone!
G'day, mate!
Oh, hello, dahhling...
Hi, dear.
Hello and welcome.
Hey sweet thang...
Oh, HI.
Hi, bubby!!
Ummm.. hellooooo...?

For a fun copywriting exercise, try "recreating the voice" of an existing website. If it's one that sells walking shoes to old folks, rewrite the copy... only this time, pretend you're selling athletic shoes to teens. What would you say differently? How does the 'voice' change according to the shift in audience?

"Nabbing the voice" is just one of the many ways that a professional copywriter can amuse himself while producing quality work for the client. Pretend you're an actor; how will you improv this character to be totally believable? Keep practicing... and above all, have FUN.

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

Find out how crisp, targeted copywriting can make a world of difference for your business. Dina Giolitto is a Copywriting Consultant with ten years of experience. Visit for free tips on branding, copywriting, marketing, and more.

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