After the launch of Write With Influence, I had a fair few questions from people who wanted to know if the resource could help them write to a B2B audience.
As luck would have it, I’ve been creating new materials specifically for writing marketing copy to appeal to the B2B crowd. They’ll be a standard part of the course from December 2014 (if you’re reading before that date you can sign up to find out when they become available, if you’re reading after that date, click here for details on how to access them).
In this article, we’re going to look briefly at the challenge of finding the right B2B copywriting style and then look at a list of 44 words you should try to avoid in your B2B marketing copy.
What is B2B copywriting?
Very briefly, B2B stands for business to business. It means you sell your product to other businesses, rather than to a specific consumer. For example, if you sold PC equipment to engineering firms, you are selling to a business, if you sell PC equipment from a high street shop, chances are you are selling them for family or home use, which falls under the consumer category.
Why is B2B copywriting different to B2C copywriting?
Basically this boils down to the audience you are selling to, and the buying process around the product. For example, let’s compare a home-fitness dvd box set to a large scale printer / copier for a medium-sized business.
DVD Box Set:
- Largely emotional purchase – consumer wants to feel the product can change their life
- Generally one person’s decision on whether the product should be bought
- May not shop around and compare other products, but go for one that gets attention
- May not have a lot of previous knowledge about fitness
Printer / Copier
- More rational purchase – there has been a need (old printer died) and this has to be purchased
- Multiple influences involved in the decision: business owner / project manager, accountant
- Will probably compare on price and spec with several vendors
- May have a technical expert within the business who knows exactly what they’re looking for
In other words, your style of writing is going to be more fact-based and less emotional. But what does that look like? The style that will probably work best is that of writing to a colleague at the same professional level as you. Not so friendly that is sounds like a message to an old friend, and not so formal that it sounds like you are writing for a presentation or to your superior.
Finding that balance can take a few goes, for example:
Being overly personal:
Hi there Alli!
I just got back from a busy weekend with the family! We went to an adventure playground and took in all the rides. Our youngest Josh even went on one of the roller coasters all by himself.
Here are some photos of us enjoying ourselves.
Whilst this style of email newsletter is common for some consumer emails, it is unlikely that your business customers are that interested in your personal life.
But often B2B copywriting swings the other way and is too impersonal…
Being too formal
During market research, your name emerged as someone with significant experience in the aviation industry. Therefore I am contacting you personally to inform you about a meeting coming up on this topic area.
Although the sender says she is contacting the reader personally, it feels impersonal because of the following phrases:
“During market research” – this highlights the reader’s attention immediately that they are simply a name on a list of people who might buy.
“your name emerged” – the author has found the reader’s details in an very impersonal way.
“With significant experience in aviation” – whilst this is flattering, the previous phrases reduces its impact
“therefore” – a very formal word to use
“I am contacting you personally” – this is redundant, the person is receiving an email and knows it is for them
“to inform you about a meeting coming up on this topic” again, very formal and “stiff”
So how can you personalise the approach without it sounding like “ad speak”?
I wanted to send you a quick email because in just a few weeks there is a meeting to reconstruct Iraq’s aviation sector, and your experience would be a great asset to the event.
Notice that you don’t have to be over the top, you just want to show that you are getting in touch with them one to one, and not as part of a mass advertising campaign.
Sometimes you need to be boring
Dull and boring might just be the way to your prospects heart if your information is relevant to them and what they want to do. You shouldn’t need gimmicks to dress it up, or to put a funny spin on the content of the conference.
“Make a splash at the latest produced water management conference”
Is not a good example of a headline.
You don’t need to add in funny word play, instead you should always focus on the benefits to your audience.
“Understand The 2015 Trends And Technological Advancements In Oil And Gas Produced Water Management”
Might sound dull and boring to you, could be exactly what your delegate wants to hear.
44 unsubstantiated and overused words to avoid
These are words that either don’t talk about specific results or have been overused and lost their effect. When you get B2B copy laden with these types of words the writing sounds flat, empty and vague. Relying on words like these can strip away the identity of your product. For example, if you wrote:
Find the latest innovative technology in your industry. Hear speakers discuss the hottest trends and develop a full-integrated and seamless solution for your business growth.
What are we talking about here? Any type of business? Are we in the oil and gas sector? Or social media? In 2 lines of copy we’ve actually said very little other than fluff. You might as well leave the page blank and put in a photo of a puppy because it’s not selling the product, and who doesn’t like puppies?
When you can use them
There are exceptions, if you can explain WHY or HOW your product or service matches the word you’re using, then they can work. For example:
Using a central dashboard to carry out all HR tasks, you eliminate the unreliable paper trail and streamline your work process.
The open source CRM software is flexible and easy to use, letting you quickly create and promote new video games to your audience. This is perfect for smaller companies that want the freedom to be creative and innovative while experimenting with new ideas.
We use these words because we’ve seen them a thousand times, but that’s just it: your audience has also seen them a thousand times and have learned to ignore them.
And we definitely don’t want that. Bookmark this page for when you edit your B2B marketing as a quick cheat sheet to make sure you’re writing solid copy.
|Best||Best results||Breaking boundaries||Business growth|
|Cutting-edge||Diverse variety||Efficient execution||First-rate|
|Flawless||Flawless migration||Forward thinking||Fully-integrated|
|Good||Great Service||Great value||High levels of success|
|Innovative||Leading||Maximise opportunities||Maximize return|
|More effective||Moving forward||Nice||Operationally|
|Optimise / optimize||Out of the box thinking||Paradigm||Performance|
|State of the art||Strategic||Streamline||Strive to|
|Successful||Superior||Synergy||To the next level|
|Top class||Unique||Utilise / Utilize||World class|
Want more information on writing more persuasive B2B marketing copy? Write With Influence is an online self-paced resource to help you write compelling marketing copy faster and easier. From December 2014 it has specific B2B copywriting materials available.