The Power of a Unique Voice

It’s a very noisy world out there, with a TON of new content being published every day. Through social media, corporate and personal blogs, and podcasts just like ours, everyone has the power to be a publisher. This ever-increasing flood of content makes it more difficult than ever to stand out, and that’s why having a unique voice is so important.

On this week’s episode, we chat with Alice Phillips, Director of Neatline Creative about the power of a unique voice, the importance of authenticity, and the clarity that knowing who you are can bring to both internal and external marketing efforts.

Eighty-six percent of B2B marketers are participating in content marketing.

CQ: Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report, 86% of B2B respondents said they use content marketing. For you, what does that say about the power of voice and the role it plays in making yourself stand out?

AP: It’s good news for people like me that content has become such an important part of people’s marketing strategies. It’s heartening too, because you’re seeing people reading things, possibly for the first time in my career. But the reason it’s happening, is because there are so many channels out there right now through which to communicate. And it’s become democratized too. You’ve got people at all levels of the organization able to represent their company publicly. As a result, the strategy has to be that we’re going to control this content to some extent, we’re going to start pushing it out, and start making sure that what we’re putting out there supports our messaging. Messaging in my mind is what you tell people, your audiences, in order to establish your desired position in the market, and position is the unique space you want to occupy in your audience’s mind. So if you start with the position, and you establish where you want to be, then then next step is to develop messaging to support that, and from there comes content.

CQ: One of the hottest words that everyone who’s dealing with content marketing right now is hearing is authenticity. You see it everywhere. What does authenticity mean to you?

AP: So authenticity to me means that what you’re saying from a messaging point of view has to be rooted in who you are. That’s authentic. We used to work for a company that went through this large-scale repositioning exercise and they wanted to put a strong voice out in the market, so they sent out all these customer surveys and the feedback they got back was, “You’re a safe pair of hands.” Everybody was up in arms because they said, “No, we want to be known for innovation.” They started to develop messaging and this position based on innovation, but it didn’t resonate. You know, it’s not a bad thing to play to your strengths, to use the foundation of where you are to represent where you’re going, or to at least provide the foundation for where you’re going. I think that’s what authenticity is.

CQ: What are some of the steps that a marketer can go through to help their firm get back to what is true and authentic to them?

AP: With our clients, we like to address five big areas.

  1. Context: What are the outside influencers that are effecting how you’re going to position yourselves?
  2. Offer: This is surprisingly difficult for companies. What do we actually do? I don’t mean “we inspire people,” or “we change lives.” I mean what are you actually doing? Only when you can really clearly define what you do can you look for ways to add value.
  3. Audience: Who are we speaking to? What matters to them?
  4. Vision: Where do we want to go? What does perfect look like?
  5. Legacy: Vision needs to be tempered with legacy. Where do we come from? What can we build on?

If you can address all five of those factors, then you can start to establish positioning, messaging, and your unique voice.

CQ: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see firms or marketers making when developing their messaging?

AP: The biggest one is saying something you’re not. It’s that disconnect. You can’t go out there and say something without actually being it because nobody will buy it. The second thing is forgetting that the internal audience is as important as the external audience, if not more important, and understanding that the engagement aspect is vital to you communicating. Finally, especially in the professional services market, one of the big things is marketing to their internal structure and not putting the client first. It doesn’t matter. What is keeping that client up at night and how are you going to solve that problem? That’s really the best messaging that you can put out there.

CQ: What companies have you seen lately that have a unique, strong voice that you admire?

AP: All the companies I’ve been thinking through recently are the ones that are effectively executing internal engagement strategies. There’s basically three ways that you communicate with your audiences: marketing, the product/service, and the people. From those three, the people are the hardest to control, and they’re arguably the most vital. A strong culture is what yields a strong voice, and I think that is so important for any company going through a messaging strategy.

CQ: Do you see internal and external communications as separate strategies, or as one holistic strategy that needs to resonate in both places?

AP: I think it’s definitely one strategy. When we go through these exercises with clients, we start with the positioning, we establish the messaging, and then we talk about how that one message faces outwards and faces inwards. How do take that same message and make it credible to your people as employees and then empower them with the skills and tactics they need to spread the external message as well? It’s a tough one for companies, and not often something they think about. They think that if they invest in the branding piece and the messaging piece then they’re set. But they’re really going to miss an opportunity if they don’t take those messages and find a way to make them resonate internally as well.


Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.



About Alice

Alice has had a vast and varied career as a communicator, brand strategist, writer and all around content aficionado, and she has held several senior communications positions in global companies, driving brand strategy through periods of business transformation. A journalist and copywriter by trade, she possesses a keen ability to turn business objectives into clear and compelling messages capable of inspiring change. In 2015, she joined forces with Christy Ambrose to start Neatline Creative, a full-service brand strategy and communications agency dedicated to forging the most direct route to the hearts of their clients’ audiences.

Have questions or want to chat more with Alice? Post your comments below or connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Join us Thursday on the podcast where Alice will share stories about her career, education and advice for helping marketers create change within their organizations.

“If you were to ask me about my biggest failures so far in my career, they have all come from assuming that people within the organization valued marketing. Assuming that people understood what the point of it was. What I’ve learned is you need to take a step back and educate your own internal management on why it’s important to worry about it at all. And that comes down to proof. You need to be able to prove the value of what you do before you can start to move the ball down the field.”

Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.



Next week, we’ll welcome Katie Garrett, Account Director at RepEquity, Inc., to talk about how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can impact your bottom line.