Business to business (B2B) copywriting isn’t the same as “regular” copywriting. There are similarities, but you can’t write the same type of copy for every audience.
If you do that, you’ll find that your efforts don’t move the proverbial needle one bit.
You can’t expect to make things better with a deft turn of phrase here and there. Instead, you should learn a bit about the structure of B2B copywriting. You might be astonished at how your sales increase.
If you’re feeling discouraged at all, read on for some things that will move the needle toward more sales and sharpen your skills.
In some ways, you can consider your B2B copy as an invitation to a party — a party where attendees get to learn about your offerings and how you can help them. Just like a real-life party, you don’t invite anybody on the street.
So who do you invite? Flesh out what you know about the businesses (and their owners/decision-makers) that make up your prospects and buyers. Build an avatar and look at the demographic information that you have on hand.
If you don’t have any demographic information, you should get some. Assuming your budget doesn’t allow you to hire a professional at this point, you can gather the information in other ways.
First, make note of something important. Business owners and your target audience can have different sensibilities. Writing without that in mind doesn’t end well.
Back to the metaphorical “party.” Sometimes you think you know what a person is like or what kinds of things they’d enjoy. That’s not always apparent until you ask the person in question. So don't turn away from user research. It’s not just for people in lab coats anymore.
Your audience isn’t some huge, amorphous blob. Not even if your niche is very narrow and specific. Do you think Tesla's ad copy is written only for male business executives of Fortune 100 companies who are over 40? Of course not. Women buy Teslas. Blue-collar people buy Teslas.
To get a better idea of what this means for your copywriting, look at Chris Anderson. He’s a writer and marketer who has advanced the field of marketing throughout his career. He coined the phrase “The Long Tail” in 2004.
The long tail is the theory that specificity sells — that rather than selling a small amount of popular products, marketers would profit more by selling many lesser-known products. Anderson’s work is still at the center of discussion as a way to understand how this all fits together today.
This long-tail theory is part of why Amazon is now such a behemoth. They sold millions of items that many consumers couldn’t get in their locations. Now, whether you need a microscope or (literally) some owl excrement, Amazon can get it to your doorstep. Sometimes even overnight.
Even if your target audience is male sawmill owners who are over 50, you’re not out of luck. A 30-something female communications business owner who’s allergic to trees can still write appealing copy for “the guys.”
Of course, you can, too. You haven’t lost the ability to understand good vs. blah communication just because you’re not a member of the target audience. So ask yourself: are your words interesting? Would they capture your interest?
Back to our imaginary sawmill business owners. You’d be mistaken to assume they all think alike and appreciate the same things. Nothing could be further from the truth. As they say to website owners: “niche down.”
Is your writing aimed at all the sawmill owners in the world? Or are you trying to target sawmill owners in the Pacific Northwest who are concerned about tariffs and emerald ash borers?
Learn the difference between B2B and D2C copywriting here.
As in every other endeavor, you have to get your fundamentals in order before you start the party. If you’re going to bring a ton of people into your home to dance and party, you’d better be sure that the space can fit them. If the floor collapses, your partying days could be over.
If you’re going to triple-check anything that you’re writing (which is never a bad idea), you should also triple-check the very industry-specific parts.
As you’re aware, this article doesn’t have anything to do with emerald ash borers. The point is that if you need to come across as though you know a lot about them, you should do high-level research before you write a word.
Anything short of excellent research will destroy your authority and credibility. That’s worse than not communicating at all. So either know what you’re talking about, or do backflips to get your work in front of people who do know what you’re talking about before you hit “publish.”
The advent of the internet has done away with a huge swathe of “fake it till you make it” techniques of communication. If you don’t bother to look up Ash Borers and absent-mindedly refer to them as “Vermillion Ash Borers,” then you’re dead in the water.
So don’t even try. There’s no substitute for double-checking.
Learn research strategies that top copywriters use here.
Every business has jargon, even those that seem straightforward to the uninitiated.
For example, a “mark” could be a fingerprint to a forensic crime scene examiner, but it could also be a tool mark that a perpetrator made in some way. The best way to be clear about what’s what in this example might seem like a radical new approach.
Are you sitting down? Here’s how you make sure you’ve got the right end of the stick:
You look it up or ask someone who’s in that field.
You also shouldn’t be surprised to hear that making the jargon more jargon-y will have the opposite effect of making you sound knowledgeable. People who get it don’t have to say “Emerald Ash Borer” every three seconds to prove that they’re familiar.
Keep in mind that you’re writing for your fellow humans. This machine age may have led you to believe that you’re writing for algorithms and not humans. Nothing could be further from the truth. If your work is at the top of every search engine algorithm but nobody reads it, you’ve failed.
If you make an effort not to do some sort of scummy come-hither with your copy, your copy will improve. You’re writing things that help your prospects because you’re offering products and services that’ll help them.
You don’t have to worry about your audience thinking, “Go away, kid, you bother me.” If you’re selling a good product at a good price to the right audience, they won’t be bothered. They’ll be eager to give you their money.
Search engines don’t buy products or engage other businesses in contracts, for the most part. So keeping the humans as part of the equation isn’t an afterthought — it’s the main thought.
You want to make people so intrigued that they’re going to follow you around, waiting for your next pearl of wisdom or your “mark” expertise.
Last but far from least: almost everyone on the planet hates boring, useless business meetings. The people who don’t hate them are from elsewhere in the galaxy, so you’re not writing for them anyway.
Think of your copy like a business meeting of sorts. Make it useful, interesting, and for the love of everything, get to the point.
Imagine if a sawmill owner has to wade through four paragraphs to understand that you’re trying to say that ash borers are, in fact, vermillion and not emerald. In their eyes, you failed. Make sure that you get the useful, important stuff up there front and center, and don’t make readers do backflips to figure it out.
If you’ve bored readers in the process, they not only won’t buy what you’re selling this time, but they also might not even read your copy the next time.
Even if you aren’t able to hire an editor this year, you can treat yourself like a treasure and edit your drafts without mercy.
If you do have a good editor or two on your team, handle them with the honor and loyalty they deserve. A good editor is worth her or his weight in diamond-encrusted gold and then some. Good writers are rare, but excellent editors are even more difficult to find.
It’s also important for you to know how to delegate. To be successful in learning any new skill, it’s helpful to know your own strengths and weaknesses.
Even if you’re a good, very experienced editor, you might not want to do all the editing for your company. A fresh, more objective set of eyes on your copy can very often elevate the work from good to exceptional.
Even if you write all of your copy and sales materials (and there are many reasons why you shouldn’t do so), those objective eyes can point out missteps and points of poor clarity or mistakes.
Don’t get your ego wrapped up in what you’ve written, either. If you’re running the company, you have far more important things to get wrapped up in. Hire someone with writing and editing skills. Then listen to what they say and read what they produce.
Just as you should be prepared to pay website developers well, don’t skimp out on writers and editors. Try their services for 90 days and see for yourself. Not only can your conversions and income benefit, but your life might also become more relaxed.
It doesn't matter who you are — you can’t do it all.
Ok, they aren’t weapons except in the metaphysical sense, even though you’re fighting for your audience’s attention. Still, you have to choose the type of B2B content you’re going to create. Consider the following options:
There’s a recent school of thought that says the only thing that matters is content/presence. In other words, it’s beneficial to post a huge amount of content in a short amount of time and to be visible on all social media platforms all the time.
The truth is that for the best outcome for any sort of marketing, the quality of the content and the presence is what matters. Turning a firehose of content onto the target audience won’t yield the same results.
The story about Tom’s shoes, for example, is that they decided to give away a pair of shoes to charity for every pair of shoes they sold.
Although they no longer follow that “one for one” business model, they gave away shoes to children in 70 countries worldwide, including the United States, Argentina, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Guatemala, Haiti, and South Africa.
Now they’re a “B” Corporation and instead of giving shoes, they give grants to non-profit organizations around the world.
See how easy it was to share that story? It’s simple, it’s memorable, and it’s unusual. That’s the kind of story that your company needs to develop. A “good story” sticks in peoples’ minds even when the details aren’t quite perfect.
For example, many people believe that Toms is still giving those free shoes away. They aren’t, but they’re still doing a lot of charitable work which makes a positive impact on the world.
Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying, “A lie can go around the world before the truth puts its pants on.”
That attribution is incorrect, but the truth of the statement is undeniable. That’s not to say that anyone should lie about their product or service, though. The point is that people will remember your story. The only hurdle for you is figuring out what that story is.
Once you have a story, spend some time considering your headline and subject lines. Experts say that open rates often hinge on the “headline” that a subject line provides.
So be sure to give them thought and test them. Otherwise, you may end up being ridiculed.
One of the most important concepts in B2B Copywriting and sales is that you can’t make absurd, lofty statements about what you’re offering. One of the biggest reasons to avoid these statements is that people will lose trust in you and never buy from you.
That’s important to note, but the danger goes beyond lost sales. You can decrease your credibility by making ridiculous claims.
Imagine a sales pitch that claimed you’d have “fun” cutting your toenails.
Would you believe it for even a second?
Those clippers might be the holy grail of clippers, but you’ll never know because their assertion means you won’t buy them. You probably won’t ever buy anything from that company after reading that.
Many business owners struggle with the fact that they’re not, in most cases, part of the target audience that they’re writing for.
There have been differing opinions about whether it's important to spend a lot of time and effort on creating your "avatar.” That’s something you’ll find out as you do it, but it’s worth a shot before forming your opinion.
Creating an avatar through diligent research may not work for everybody, but it might work for you.
Before you write a word of copy, consider the benefits to your ideal buyers' business. Think about concrete and intangible benefits.
Never lose sight of why your ideal reader/buyer should care about what you’ve got to say. Keeping these concepts front and center improves your copy — but don’t patronize or hit people over the head with your concepts.
Because you can use them at no charge, it becomes difficult to support the objections that you can’t run your copy through CopyScape or Grammarly. It’s worth doing so to put your best professional foot forward.
Last but far from least, most kinds of B2B writing can benefit from a headline search regarding your topic and related businesses.
Just because it’s headline news doesn’t mean that you’re going to know about it without question. Make sure to cover your bases with a quick look at some searches around your industry.
If Congress passed a law making something illegal overnight, you need to somehow address that in your copy.
Keep your brain engaged and you’ll come through with flying colors. Your B2B copy will also be more effective if you do.
Here's how you can write exceptional B2B content that people can't resist reading.
Copywriting for business-to-business transactions is a unique art form. It takes time and effort to learn about the best ways to approach this type of writing, but it’s well worth the effort in terms of increased sales.
By taking the time to learn about your audience and how to speak their language, you can create copy that resonates with them.
Instead of using too much jargon, dismissing editorial advice, or rushing through the research stage, you can get real results for your business. You’ll be able to create high-value, benefit-packed copy that gets people to notice your offer.
Just think: all you have to do is pay a little more attention to every step of the process. Consider how you’re spending your time, and how you could improve your workflow. Think about the end goal and you’ll find yourself there before you know it.
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