Tips, techniques and inspiration for marketing communications from Richard Groom at Peterborough Copywriting Bureau.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

How does B2B copywriting differ from B2C copywriting?

I sat in on a great online interview with a B2B specialist copywriter some time ago and it was interesting stuff. (The half-hour interview is with Michael Fischler and you can hear it here.)

What struck me about the interview was a point Michael made about features and benefits. In short, he said that B2B copywriting should be heavier on the features than B2C. That's because B2B buyers are usually knowledgeable - experts in many cases - who need and expect to see certain 'nuts and bolts' information.

As a broad principle, I agree 100%. If you are working on a piece of B2C copy, in many (most?) cases the reader will have little knowledge about the finer details of the subject matter.

Someone choosing which shampoo to buy doesn't usually know the difference between ammonium chloride and sodium lauryl sulfate. And most TV buyers don't really know whether a 1600 Hx processing rate is a useful feature.

Marketers do of course often include this type of information in consumer campaigns. It sounds good, and that's OK I guess.

And yes, there are 'prosumers' who know their stuff. My nephew is one. He's a total video game geek who definitely knows whether his next PC should have a dual-core processor or a quad-core one.

But generally spaking, it's the B2B readers who know the technical issues and requirements. You're writing for a company that makes saw blades used in quarries? Well, you had better include information on applications, noise performance, yield, efficiency, precision, rim width, rim depth, arbor size, recommended RPM and so on.

That's not to say that you shouldn't also write about the benefits. But maybe the thing is not to concentrate on the benefits that are obvious, given the features and technical information. The reader will probably know that the more teeth per inch the blade has, the finer the cut. So listing the teeth-per-inch may be enough to get that message across. But if not...

What is a benefit, anyway?

One useful trick when writing is to think of 'results' instead of 'benefits'.

We may think that a benefit of more teeth per inch is a finer cut. But the result might be 'less waste', which could hit the spot with readers better than 'a finer cut'.

If the result is 5% less waste that's even better. If it's an average of $15,000 less waste per day in a typical granite quarry, even better still. Even the most technically-aware B2B reader will be interested in that, so long as we back it up with evidence.

(By the way, I know nothing about saw blades or quarries, so forgive me if you do and my examples are silly!)

For every benefit we might include in B2B copy, we should really push ourselves hard to question its value for the reader. Work hard on the research. Talk to the experts in your business. If you can identify some great results that the features achieve for customers, they could be worth including.

More next time  

What else should you bear in mind when writing B2B copy? Look out for some more tips and tricks in the next Marketing Booster.

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