Find Your Voice
The Success Margin
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I read a lot. Books, newspapers, magazines. But
good, really powerful writing is a rare treat for
me. And I'm sure for you as well.
After reading a recent timely but boring and life-
less newspaper article, it suddenly hit me like a
ton of bricks!
The "voice" in which copy is written is crucially
important. Yet, I've never seen anyone discuss it.
And that includes me!
But, isn't this true? As I gain new insights I
share them. And isn't this part of the reason
you're a subscriber?
I believe a big part of my success is due to
creating a "voice" that is unique to me. It
differentiates me. And I've found an interesting
and persuasive voice for numerous clients and
But I never actually thought about actually
teaching anyone else how to do it. Today, dear
reader, that is about to change.
To be a powerful and effective communicator,
whether in print, on the platform, on TV or radio,
you need to communicate in your own special
You have a bigger challenge than it first appears.
You have to sound like you. Communicate just like
you. Be the authentic you. And no one else. But
like all great accomplishments, it's easier said than
Let me be crystal clear. I'm not talking about
faking it. Or making up some sort of phony voice.
I am talking about finding that voice already
within you. And simply letting it out.
I submit most people, instead of releasing it,
resist and fight against showing the world that
emotional inner voice. Rather, they try to be
"sophisticated," whatever that means.
I believe a big reason for stilted writing which
is all too common is how the subject is taught in
school. You can please your English teacher and
get top grades. All you need to is display an
unemotional yet grammatically correct style.
The resultant writing is dull, lifeless, left-brain
copy no one (except your teacher) wants to read.
And even more important to the marketer, no one
will be influenced in any way to buy anything.
I've also discovered that nearly everyone has more
than one "voice" buried within them. Some have a
surprisingly large number of authentic voices.
These can be called upon, depending on the
If and when you find your strongest, real,
authentic voice, your copy will vastly improve.
And I assure you, so will your sales results!
How would I further define your "voice"?
Nothing less than the sum total of your words,
expressions, personality and mannerisms that make
Look around you carefully at all forms of writing
including sales copy. Wouldn't you agree that most
writers' work is sadly colorless and devoid of an
individual, unique voice?
Proper grammar (which can get you an A grade in
English) is not what makes copy interesting.
Readable. Persuasive. Compelling.
My job is to help you become a better writer of
sales copy. My goal is to help you get an A not in
English. But in marketing!
I've used several voices during my career. In my
first business, Peterson's House of Fudge, my first
voice was as a gourmet chef. A confectionery and
ice cream maker with several patented recipes to
my name. At first I began speaking and writing the
way the chefs did who worked in my father's
family restaurant/ice cream parlor business.
Later I started writing books. The first was "How
to Form Your Own Corporation Without a Lawyer
for Under $50." I then got better and more
comfortable at letting out my second buried voice.
I released a voice that communicated how I felt.
Pro free market. Pro limited government. Anti-
lawyer. Anti-bureaucrat. Aspiring consumer hero.
Contrarian (I concluded that most people were dead
wrong about nearly everything. The truth was the
opposite of what I was taught in school and what
most people believed to be true).
All the copy written to sell my book, my first two
direct response businesses, and 56 books published
for other authors, utilized this new voice.
The first business widely using my contrarian tone
was Enterprise Publishing Company. The second
was The Company Corporation. This business, also
started in my basement, became the largest
incorporating company in the world.
This new contrarian voice from the depths of my
soul has indeed been very, very successful.
One of my major tasks is to actually create a unique
and valuable voice (in the authentic voice of the
client) for those with whom I consult and write
How do I find this new voice?
By intently listening to them. And understanding
what really makes them tick. And what keeps them
awake at night. I see this research as part of my
** Here are a few client examples **
-- William Fischer, author of the book "How to
Fight Cancer and Win." His inner voice--a caring,
outspoken researcher intent on seeking and
publishing the truth about alternative cancer
treatments as opposed to conventional approaches.
-- The "Hugging Butcher." His voice--a lovable
Minnesota butcher who the women customers in
particular love. Because of this tendency, I got him
to guarantee every customer a free hug. This simple
strategy turned his business, just two weeks away
from bankruptcy, into a roaring success. He is now
a retired former butcher.
Let's look at a few more of the wonderful and
successful voices used by other well-known
-- Gary Halbert, my late friend and world-class
copywriter. His "voice" exemplified a profane,
crazy, lovable, irreverent person almost
irresistible to his particular audience. He had
this unique ability to communicate as though he
were in a locker room or bar having a few beers
with his best buddies. His words alone were able
to transport you right to that setting.
It's important, of course, to realize every voice is
not for every audience. Many niche audiences
would undoubtedly be turned off by Gary, while
his fans loved him.
That's why every entrepreneur has to seek and find
their own niche. And the voice you use helps you
do it very effectively. In fact, you usually can't
do it at all without it.
-- Bill Gore. This is another friend of mine who is
no longer with us. But his voice is. He actually
invented the revolutionary material now called
Gore-Tex. But DuPont, the parent company where
he worked, wasn't interested in it. They couldn't
see any future! So in his basement he started the
now iconic company, Gore-Tex in Wilmington,
Delaware, where I used to live. His "voice" always
used in his communications and advertising was a
caring, brilliant, informal, uncle-like figure. Today,
even after employing thousands with factories
around the world, the company has never given a
single employee a title, even to this day.
-- Haband Pants. A mail order marketer. The
brilliant voice of this company used in their copy
is in the personal style of a father and his son.
They gossip. They complain about each other.
They bitch. They tell corny jokes. They even get
away with commenting about life all the while
they extol the virtues of their clothing.
Even the very largest corporations often assure
their advertising consistently reflects one
Most of the time the "voice" is the founder's.
Years ago I had occasion to meet Sam Walton,
founder of Wal-Mart, in Washington, D.C. He was
the richest man in the U.S. at the time.
Mr. Walton was fascinating. He was a humble,
plainspoken man. He drove a 25-year-old pickup
truck and lived in a house he purchased 30 years
before for $24,000. He wore a $10 red and white
checked wool shirt. His advertising and also
employee communications were just like him.
Plain, simple, and direct. This style continues
-- Another good example of a strong, unique
"voice" responsible for a huge part of its
incredible success is the case of Perdue Chicken.
This 750 million dollar Delaware company was
founded by Frank Perdue. In his inimitable voice,
Frank produced radio and TV commercials
advertising his chicken. The U.S.P. he developed
and is still being used today is: "It takes a tough
man to grow a tender chicken."
I recommend you find and develop a unique
"voice" in which to write copy and express
yourself. A good place to first start is to practice
writing some headlines and copy with that voice
within you that is undoubtedly yearning to be
released. Work on expressing yourself freely.
Emotionally. With abandon.
Try writing copy as though you were answering
this question. "If I had the guts to write about the
virtues of my product and my company without
worrying what anyone, especially my peers,
relatives and even my English teacher thought,
what would I say?"
Once you answer this question, I'd wager a lot of
money that your performance, response and success
level will vastly improve once you find and release
that magical inner voice within you and which is
unique in all the world.
I'd love to hear from you about your new "voice"
and what it has meant to you.
© Copyright MMVIII Ted Nicholas