When clients initially explain to me why their website and digital content is not connecting with customers, I often hear that “our copy just needs a polish” and “our tone of voice is wrong”.

It’s great that content is considered worthy of attention, but polish and tone appear to have gained prominence perhaps because they are known quantities that can be tackled without the need for fundamental change.

I argue that the fundamentals need to be addressed first. As polished hurdles are still hurdles, it’s much better to remove them from the track completely.


1) The problem with our content is that “our copy just needs a polish”.

Copy that just needs a “polish” is rare. It’s much more common that the copy is not connecting because it is not aligned with the needs of its target audience. When copy is audience-focused, it’s much more likely to connect. “Polish” without understanding is not enough.


2) The problem with our content is that “our tone of voice is wrong”.

Among some “legacy” communications agencies, the notion of tone of voice has undue importance.

As DigitasLBi’s Chris Clarke points out: “Agencies of all kinds are losing out to content producers that refuse to change their tone of voice to fit with a brand. This means a bit less consistency but a lot more cut-through to specific audiences. And, by the way, the customer doesn’t notice because they only see the stuff in their own bubble.

“… agency branding and positioning, and many an agency process, reek of snake oil and gobbledegook. Clients have had enough.”

So, tone of voice has its place, but in my experience, with digital content and communications especially, there are usually more pressing matters to attend to.

Again: Tone of voice on its own will not help your content to connect with customers. If your content does not reflect the topics and themes that matter to your audience, TOV is of little use.

But how to identify the topics and themes?

Content that connects requires research and analysis.
And, funnily enough, I offer to do it for you.

Find out more about my Audience Intent Modelling  (AIM) process here.

See also

Content insight services


Photo by Julle V

Published On: January 17, 2017By

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