Great content marketing strategy necessitates that everyone writing on behalf of a brand has a firm understanding of the brand voice. It is essential that content marketers and community managers can confidently channel an established brand voice.

Brand Voice

Understand a new client’s brand voice by asking questions.

Before blog posts, web pages, tweets, Facebook posts, or any other public facing content is created, content marketers need to meet with a brand or business’ VIPs and get them to open up – about their vision, their mission, their challenges, their customers, their competitors, and much more. Get them to open up and you’ll get to the heart of their brand voice.

20 Questions to Uncover Brand Voice

Think of this kickoff meeting or call with your new client as a discovery session. On the quest to firmly grasp a new client’s brand voice, you need to ask a lot of questions and get the client talking – about everything. Here are 20 questions to get you started.

Get Started

1.What worked in the past as far as content creation? What hasn’t worked? Why?
2.What blog posts and static pages get the most views and most engagement?
3. What are your top three business goals over the next quarter and next year?
4. Where do you want your business to be five years from now?

Look at the Competition

5. Who are your competitors? What do you like about their online strategies? What don’t you like?
6. In what ways are you stronger than your competitors? In what ways are you weaker?
7. Please provide three samples of content you’ve seen that you would like for your site.

Explore Products and Services

8. What are common barriers of entry to your products or services? ­­
9. What questions are you frequently asked about your products or services?
10. Why do people use your services or products?
11. How do your services or product work? Tell me about any unique features.
12. What are the common problems that your products or services address? How do they do solve those problems?
13. What are the top three most important messages about your products or services that must be communicated?

Understand the Audience

14. Who are your typical customers? Describe them. Please share any persona research.
15. What matters to them? When does it matter to them?
16. What are some of the scenarios that lead them to finding your brand and using your services or products?

Assess Reputation

17.Where do you have an online presence outside of the website (social media platforms, directories, etc.)?
18. How do you want your audience to perceive you?
19. What myths can we dispel surrounding your products or services?
20. What does your audience believe about your company today?

These 20 questions provide a healthy base to get started with. As you talk with your new client, make sure to really listen what they’re saying – and then ask more questions based on their answers. Whenever I interview anyone, I always ask one final bonus question: “Is there anything you’d like to share that we haven’t talked about?”

Just in case there’s anything else they’re holding back, this gives them another opportunity to share it. Most of the time, rather than sharing something new, clients reiterate something they already said — that’s also valuable. Whatever information they care about enough to repeat stands out to me as something that’s really important to them — and therefore the brand voice.

In addition to your Q & A session, you should also obtain all the marketing materials the brand has, including pamphlets, flyers, advertisements, guides, white papers, reports and case studies. Armed with these materials and the knowledge taken away from the kickoff meeting, a content marketer will be much more equipped to write for a new client and accurately wield the brand voice.

For more valuable branding and content marketing tips, from defining your brand to reaching your target audience, check out Bruce Clay and Murray Newlands’ new book “Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals.” The authoritative guide features insights from industry professionals including Lisa Buyer, Jonathon Colman, Andy Crestodina, Ric Dragon, Lee Odden, and other leaders in Internet marketing.

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Kristi Kellogg
Kristi Kellogg is a content strategist at Bruce Clay, Inc., journalist and social (media) butterfly. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in Bruce Clay’s latest book, Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+