Most business advice highlights tools, tricks, and other fast tracks to success.

Before you go there, you need to have the basics right. If you're going to effectively market your new business, then your email signature, voicemail, and tone of voice need to be considered. These things seem small, but put together they make up your brand.

So, yes, of course you have voicemail, but are you leveraging it to its full potential? Are you presenting yourself professionally?

These 10 tips are a surefire way to maximize the value you’re getting from your voicemail service and delight callers into becoming customers. Have at ‘em!

1. Limit Background Noise

If you’re recording your greeting from the back of a New York City cab with the windows down, it’s gonna be pretty obvious to your callers. Road-raged cabdrivers, screeching brakes, and honking horns don’t exactly scream 'I’m a professional and I care about you.' The consequences of this can be two-fold:

There’s a simple fix here and it’s revolutionary. Ready? Record your greeting in your office, your home, or somewhere else that’s quiet. It only takes about 5-10 minutes of your time, but it will go a long way in making current customers, future prospects, and other callers feel important and valued.

2. Be Unique

Your business is creative and different, so shouldn’t your voicemail be, too? Generic greetings like, “I’m away from my desk right now, but I really value your call. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you,” are a dime a dozen.

Your voicemail is a prime way for you to differentiate your business and be memorable, and it doesn’t have to be a chore. Anything that breaks up the monotony of corporate greetings will do the trick. For example, you can include a few of the deals you’re currently running or even your mission statement. Something like: Hi, you've reached CorporateSoxBox. We believe in providing you with the best socks you've ever worn. Leave a message so we can keep you socked up!

3. Have Some Fun

Oftentimes, your voicemail is the first impression a caller gets of your personality, your brand, and your business. And as the old adage reminds us, first impressions are everything.

Just because it’s your business voicemail, doesn’t mean you have to sound like a robot. It’s important to make sure your callers know you’re actually human, and injecting some fun and wit into your greeting is the perfect way to say cue Scarlett Johansson voice I’m Samantha, and I have empathy.

If you want, you can even include a joke on your greeting. If you’re not funny, share a random fact about yourself, like your favorite color or vacation spot.

4. Engage Your Callers

It may not seem like it, but voicemail isn’t that different from a regular conversation. If you create a dialogue between your callers and yourself, you’re gonna have much more engaged, upbeat, and satisfied callers. And it’ll show in the messages they leave and the impressions they leave with.

The easiest way to foster engagement and interaction is to encourage callers to reveal something about themselves by asking them a question. For example, tell callers you’ll get back to them ASAP if they include the name of their favorite candy bar.

Break down walls and foster discussion, and you’ll create a much more human experience for your callers.

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5. Don’t Forget To Smile

Smiling is a total game-changer when it comes to the tone of your voicemail greeting. We’ve all heard someone smiling through a phone, but we rarely think about how different it sounds when we do.

Think about it: if you meet someone in person who may become a customer, investor, or partner, you’re probably grinning ear-to-ear. So why should your recorded first impression be any different?

The sound of a smile helps create a tone and message that convey how much you care about your caller and what she has to say. (I’m smiling as I write this, can’t you tell?) And just like all aspects of customer service and marketing, the customer has to feel like she matters.

6. Write It Out And Rehearse

Unless you’re part of the 1% of people who love and excel at public speaking, you probably have a hard time conveying an unscripted message without a few pauses and 'um's here and there. That’s fine in a regular conversation, but on your voicemail greeting, it doesn’t sound very good.

There’s no underestimating how much clearer and more confident you’ll sound if you’ve already scripted the greeting you want to record. And that goes a long way for professionalism.

You don’t have to spend 3 days rehearsing, memorizing, and re-rehearsing. Just write it out and read it out loud a time or two. That way you’ll have a plan for the greeting, and you’re less likely to forget information that you want to include. And you’ll actually save time by getting it right the first time you hit record.

7. Identify Yourself And Your Business

When you call someone for the first time, unless you know their voice, you really have no way of making sure you actually called the right number. That’s why it’s super important to identify yourself and your business on your voicemail greeting.

This is pretty simple. Just start your greeting with, “Hi, you’ve reached Mark with Facebook…” [Insert joke about experimenting on users].

Reassuring callers that they’ve dialed the right number and reached who they intended to reach is absolutely key to reducing the number of hang-ups and wasted calls. You can also limit the number of irrelevant messages you get from people who meant to call someone else.

8. Let Your Callers Know What To Tell You

This tip is more for you than your callers. It’s particularly helpful if you need more information than the standard name and phone number.

If customer service inquiries require you to have an order number, specify that callers should include this in their message. If you hate phone tag, ask callers to include the best times to return their call.

Being specific allows you to streamline checking and responding to messages, so you’ll save time for yourself and be able to get back to people more quickly, always a plus.

9. Update Your Greeting Frequently

Many of the things that can make your voicemail great, also require that you update it pretty regularly. Information like deals you’re running, when you’re away, and who to contact while you’re out can take your greeting to the next level, but they’re obviously time sensitive.

When it comes to voicemail, the best way to keep it interesting is to keep it fresh. So update your greeting every few weeks. Include new information, tell callers when you’re away, when you’ll be back, and who they can talk to in the meantime.

Frequent updates allow you to include all kinds of information that goes above and beyond the standard name - away from my desk - leave a message, and your callers will appreciate that.

10. Keep It Upbeat

We’ve already got you smiling while you record your greeting, so now let’s talk about your wording. Avoiding negative words like sorry, unfortunately, and can’t goes a long away in making your voicemail a positive experience overall.

For example, instead of saying “I’m sorry, but unfortunately, I can’t take your call right now…”start your greeting with “I’m away from my desk, but I’ll get right back to you!”

Using upbeat language and smiling will give your voicemail the oomph it needs to keep your callers happy and satisfied. They might even hope you don’t answer!

Some Samples and Examples of Main Greetings and Voicemails

Get Recording

All right, no more excuses! Now you have all the advice you need to craft a stellar voicemail greeting. So go find a quiet corner, and get to it!

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