Personal Voice or Corporate Voice: Which Should You Use to Market Yourself?
Every time you write something on behalf of your business—it could be the copy on your website, a social media post, or even an estimate—you are developing the voice of your brand. The words you use, the style of your writing, and what subjects you talk about are all part of your voice.
What are the key differences between a personal voice and a corporate voice?
Every company has to use writing and speaking to communicate with prospects and customers. As the owner and face of a company, you need to make several decisions about writing and communicating.
Should you use the pronoun ‘I’ or ‘we’ when you describe your business?
If you are a one-person business, you likely use ‘I,’ but if you have a team and employees, you are more likely to use the word ‘we.’ For example, ‘I will train you’ vs. ‘we will train you.’
How to decide:
In some industries, there may be a stigma attached to being a solopreneur or freelancer. Years ago, this was more of a big deal, but it’s often not a problem with more people working as freelancers and independent contractors. So don’t automatically think you should hide under a corporate brand. Think about your own field. Is there any reason to downplay that you are a one-person operation?
More typically, the decision is a trade-off between highlighting your individual expertise and personal involvement vs. showing that having a bigger team.
If your specific education or credentials are important, or if you provide one-on-one service, you may want to make it clear to prospects that when they hire your company, they’ll be working with you directly.
Having a team means that you can handle larger projects, have different specialized skills, or that you can be available for longer hours, or have more offerings.
Should you post under your personal account or as a business on social media?
On Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, the name of your handle and the type of account vary, whether it is a personal account or a business account. Because of the algorithms work and the functionality and insights available to you, there can be real differences in whether you post and build up a following as an individual or under a business name and business accounts.
How to decide:
It’s a good idea to set up accounts under both your individual name and business name. You’ll want those names secured by you, in case you change your mind later.
You will likely get more organic reach from your personal posts. (Only you can decide if posting business-related to your personal feed will annoy your friends and family). The social media platforms were built to encourage people to create accounts and engage with one another.
But, you have more options for promotions and ads with business accounts. For example, Facebook only allows you to ‘boost’ posts from a page, not from a person. On Instagram, users can click through to your website more easily when posting from a business account.
You will get the most impact if you post under both your personal and business accounts regularly.
How close is your business brand to your personal brand?
A personal brand and corporate brand can be intertwined or very separate.
Your name may be part of the business name. You may be the ‘face’ of the business handling in-person networking or sales. You may personally make the product or deliver the service that you provide.
How to decide:
If you are directly creating your product or servicing your client, you probably want to develop your personal voice. For example, if you create an artisanal product like homemade cheese or hand-crafted jewelry or provide one-on-one coaching or consulting, your skills, creativity, and experience directly affect how you talk about what you do.
But, if you’re mostly out of the picture, you may not want to be part of the brand. For example, if you’ve created an app that people use on their phones, people are not expecting personalized service from you. Rather, they are expecting something automated or professionally manufactured that is very separate from the business owner.
Developing your personal voice as a solopreneur or one-person businesses
When you are a solopreneur or one-person business, you need to decide if you are writing with your personal voice or developing a separate corporate voice in your marketing.
You and your company brand are closely connected if you do consulting, coaching, or are a freelancer without employees.
In fact, many solopreneurs in the professional services area may not even have a separate company name. Instead, they work, bill and market themselves as an individual.
In this case, you should cultivate a personal voice. Corporate voices can feel boring and soulless. You want to play up the personalized service you provide and highlight your specific strengths and experience. Remember, people want to do business with real, likable humans, so use this to your advantage.
However, you may still want to try and set up business accounts for your social media channels, even if the name is (nearly) the same for your personal profile and company page.
Write about topics that you are passionate about. It’s OK to get a bit more personal here, but pay attention to where you are writing. For example, you may stick to topics directly related to your business on LinkedIn and your website blog. Then, on Facebook and Instagram, you do a mix of company-related and personal subjects.
- Write and speak just like you would when having a conversation.
- Use both your personal and business accounts on social media for maximum outreach.
- It’s OK to (carefully) stray into non-business-related topics.
Creating a separate corporate voice as a small business owner
There are circumstances when you should develop a corporate voice that’s separate from your personal voice.
Start by envisioning your biggest goals for your business. Does it include hiring employees? Do you envision passive income streams? Do you ever want to sell your business?
All of these circumstances would benefit from having a brand and voice that is separate and distinct from your personal brand and voice.
- Avoid using the word ‘I’ in marketing materials.
- Build your social media followings on your business account, not on personal ones.
- Talk about the benefits of your company without promising any specific, personal interaction with you.
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