How to Write in Your Client’s Voice

How to Write in Your Client’s Voice

When the CEO of a large corporation motivates employees with a company-wide presentation, some of the impact derives directly from the CEO’s personal style. Recognizing the CEO’s usual themes, turns of phrase, and favorite examples convinces the employees that their corporate leader truly cares about the subject in question.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the one-person coaching or design or writing or training business must sell the person as much as the product or service. When freelancers use articles and newsletters and white papers and other giveaways to enhance their visibility among prospects, to win their trust, getting their personal styles across to the prospect is just as important as any other element of those communications.

Neither CEOs of large companies nor freelancers running their own businesses always have either the time or skill to produce these communications themselves. So, if they are smart, they hire writing help.

When you can capture enough of their style to write in your client’s voice, you create opportunities for repeat business. Clients learn to love writers who can mimic the key features of how they express themselves.

You and the Client: A Hybrid

The point of being a “ghost” is not so much for you to be invisible in the final product, as it is to make your client uniquely visible. Your object is not to write exactly like your client, but to write the way your clients wish they could write.

That means that you still apply your skills to enhance the quality of the communication, and the impact of the message. But as you do it, you make sure that the client’s “fingerprints” are evident throughout.

In short: your skill, their voice.

Don’t Give Yourself Away

The ordinary reader or member of the audience your client is trying to influence is not performing a detailed literary analysis! But if it is too obvious that the words and style are someone else’s, not the client’s, the client will lose credibility and the message will have less impact.

Two things that can quickly give you away are:
1. Key words and phrases
2. Rhythm
Consistent Use of Key Words and Phrases

I have written a ton of material for banks and financial institutions, and the training consultants who serve them. Some banks only make business loans to “clients,” not “customers.” Others have “customers” rather than “clients,” and still others use the terms interchangeably, and welcome the variety. Meanwhile, credit unions will not tolerate any mention of “customers”: they talk exclusively about “members.”

Many consultants talk and write about “best practices” regularly, but one of the training consultants I support always uses the phrase “best outcomes” in this context.

Now, you are not expected to know in advance about all the special phrases and words the client uses. The first time you write something for a new client, invite them to catch those phrases and special terms, to let you know what they prefer.

But once you have been given those preferences, the client should not have to correct you in the future. One of the quickest ways to send a client looking for a different writer is to repeatedly submit articles or presentations about “customers” when they have already told you that “members” is the word they use. If you want to be invited back, keeping key terms straight becomes your job, not the client’s.

Your Client Has a Rhythm

Rhythm is a little more subtle, and not as obvious to the audience, as long as you avoid extremes. In a nutshell, you might ask yourself whether your client expresses himself or herself more like Ernest Hemingway or Charles Dickens .

Some people rely on short, punchy sentences, colorful phrasing, exaggeration, dramatic examples, and the like. Some take a more academic approach, more detailed explanations, longer sentences, more complex analogies.

I know it is popular to make a lot of generalizations about “attention span” and “writing for the Internet age,” sometimes suggesting that there is one true style that is best for every situation. If that means that you adapt everything to fit one approach, if it means that the two styles I just described would end up, in your hands, looking and sounding much the same, I am sure there are lots of writing opportunities out there for you.

But they will not be in business ghostwriting. Again, by all means improve the impact of their content. Just remember, for those communications where the personality of the author is part of the message, at least echoing the client’s voice will be crucial to your long term ghosting opportunities.

When clients find a writer who can get the balance between the writer’s skill and the client’s own personality and style right, they come back to that writer again and again.


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Bee This theme is very relevant, especially for novice writers.
How and what to write, to have regular customers? That's the main question and the meaning of the writer.

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