How can companies, large or small, connect to this increasingly splintered web audience, an audience that confronts a dizzying array of competing virtual vendors, information, and images?
I believe that every successful transaction is, at its core, a conversation between human beings, and that the Internet enables these conversations in ways that we’ve only just begun to fathom.
Does that sound like the Web you know? Not to me. How many websites speak with an actual human voice? How many, in fact, connect at all to their customers?
I would argue very few. The sound of the human voice is powerful, and it connects to me on a primal level. It links me emotionally to words and images on a very human plane. It breaks through the din, and says, listen to me, I'm here, I'm human, and I have something real to talk to you about.
So why haven’t more companies used voice-over audio to tell their stories and sell their products? Why doesn’t the Internet, the most powerful multi-media platform since television, more consistently fire on all its cylinders?
KEY STEPS TO CREATING A SIGNATURE VOICE FOR YOUR WEBSITE:
1) List all the human attributes inherent in your business personality.
An accounting firm may want to project stability, reliability, and a conventional outlook - think the avuncular voice of Walter Cronkite. An advertising agency might want to deliver a hip, cutting edge, in your face creative personality - think the edgy delivery of Chris Rock or Dennis Leary. Now before you get all excited and start shouting, 'how I am I going to afford these guys?' the answer is you don't. There are great voice actors available at very reasonable prices that can project the desired style and delivery.
2) What are the audio qualities of the Signature Voice?
Do you want a man or a woman, or a combination of both? Do you want a deep base voice full of conviction, a British accent dripping in condescension, or a comic rapid-fire patter aimed to amuse and entertain?
3) What kind of language, phrasing, and cadence is required to give the Signature Voice its personality?
When we were looking for a signature voice for a DVD that was to be used at the Winter Baseball Meetings, we decided on a combination of Dizzy Dean and Mel Allen. The key was that 'good ole boy' southern charm conveyed through a combination of baseball jargon, phrasing, and dialect. We weren't looking for someone to imitate Dizzy Dean, just someone who could deliver the essence of Dizzy's love for the game.
4) Wet or Dry?
Have you ever watched one of those 'The Making of ...' documentaries on a how a movie was made? Sometimes they will show you a scene with dialog but no music or sound effects. It's really very flat, even with the actors doing their dramatic best. Voice without music or sound effects is called a 'Dry' delivery. When the effects and the music are added in postproduction, the scene delivers real emotional impact. The music and effects provide emotional clues and memory hooks.
5) Write the script
I find having the voice in my head is a great help in writing the script. Whether you're shooting for Sidney Greenstreet or Rod Serling, the cadence, phrasing, and language are what makes the script come alive, and creates the signature sound that will represent your company. Unrelated to the actual voice but definitely of importance to the script, is the point of view. The script should not be about you, it should be about how your audience can benefit from knowing you. Don't fall into the trap of focusing on you and listing a bunch of product or service features. Talk about what you can do for your audience, and in that way you will make a real connection.
6) Audition the talent
Once you have a script, it's time to audition a number of voices to find the one that fits what you’re looking for, and of course the price you are willing to pay. We generally have 50 to 100 people audition for each script. We then narrow the search down to the two or three best voices that fit the audio and budget requirements and present them to our client.
7) Implement on the Web
Once the voice audio is complete, music and sound effects can be added if needed. The audio tracks are then cut into digestible clips, compressed, and converted into appropriate implementable files. The result can be delivered on a website, email campaign landing page, or digital presentation.
Forget everything you've heard and read about bandwidth and search engine optimization. When someone takes the trouble to visit your website, don't waste this once-in-lifetime opportunity. Don't be afraid to say what needs to be said, in a way that will be heard. By using the power of professional voice-over performances on your websites, email campaign landing pages, and digital presentations, your customers and prospects will remember what you have to say. Voice-over audio is the most under-utilized marketing tool we have at our disposal. And it's ready to hit The Web. Big time.
The Internet is a powerful jet engine for human interaction, a place where conversations take place, where information is exchanged, and where a plethora of goods are bought and sold. But without the harmony of human voices, this global bazaar of digital exchange may never speak above a whisper. For any smart marketer, this untapped capacity is a windfall waiting to happen.