How I Found My Voice Through Marketing
Women have their own language. I know, because after growing up in a family of all boys, I still struggle to speak it.
How does our women’s language look to someone on the outside?
We talk in the passive voice. We hedge. We gossip. And we talk differently to our best friends than to someone we don’t know. And yes, this is generalizing big-time. But sometimes it’s good to look at the big picture from the outside to see what may be keeping us from finding our true voice.
Honestly, I found my voice through marketing.
Though we are stereotyped as either shy or talkers (or somewhere in between), many women struggle to speak in a non-passive voice. That is, we often hear or say “X helped me Y”. We’re the passive participant in this kind of language. X is happening to or on us.
Marketing taught me to speak with agency. To say “How I Y through X”
We give ourselves agency when we are the ones acting, not being acted on.
4 ways to speak with Agency:
How I made friends with my inner critic
How I chose the road less traveled
How I filled up 3 passports before marrying
How I found my voice through marketing
When we switch from passive to active voice, things stop happening to or on us. It’s like we give ourselves permission to explore. Suddenly, we become the participant, the catalyst, the agent of change.
Marketing taught me to say what I mean.
You may have heard of hedging your bets. In language, hedging means putting disclaimers around what we’re saying to make it less assertive:
Top 3 Ways We Hedge
“Some people think”…[Statement that I want to make]… “you know?”
[Thing that I think]…“Isn’t it?”
“I may be wrong, but…”[Thing I want to say in a meeting.]
Do you see how through hedging words and questions, we remove ourselves a bit from the statements we want to make, or the ideas we want to share? This softens the rejection if people don’t like our ideas, or don’t agree with them, but it does one more thing: It quiets our voice.
When you’re selling or marketing, every word counts. You have the permission to say what you mean. To cross off the “I may be wrong, but” before your statement. To transform the desire to have someone agree with you (“Right?”) into the need for genuine customer feedback, engagement, and conversions.
Good news, everyone! We can change our hedging habits.
Marketing taught me good gossip.
The language of women includes social censure through gossip.
3 Ways We Get Our Gossip
“She should have known better.”
“Did you hear?”
“Well, I can’t believe that she…”
Can gossip even be good?
What about marketing campaigns? Countdowns to new products or events? New hires you want to introduce with more than a title.
Good gossip is like good fat. It can strengthen your message and build your community.
When you have a good message, and a good plan, use your new super-power good gossip to get people interested and engaged.
3 Examples of Good Gossip
“5 more days until…”
“We’re so excited about…”
“Top 6 ways that she…”
Depending on your family dynamics, you probably talk about different topics using different words with your siblings than with Grandma. This is called code-switching. And we can do it in marketing too.
When you’re marketing, you may be introducing yourself to a whole new group of people (demographics).
This group may be different from you in: Age range, Industry, Hobbies. (let’s call this X). So how do you speak their language? You can start with Google Search.
3 Google Searches To Try
e.g. search "Millenial vocab", "Insurance Terminology"
Google: X events (trade shows, local impact, life events)
e.g. Medical Professionals trade shows, financial institutions local impact, list of new chamber members
Google: X hobbies (interests, contests, culture)
e.g. small business culture, 20-30 year old women interests, golf culture
If the terms or language you find in your search don’t sound natural for you, or are a bit rude, you don’t have to use them. The important thing is to know what the words mean, and what’s important to that group.
Speak in your genuine voice. Speak with agency. Speak with clarity. And speak with relevancy.
My marketing voice is clear, conversational, and convincing.
Now go and discover yours!
♜Sue Skavlem This article was originally published in the 2020 October/November Issue of Area Women Magazine. You can view the digital version here: