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

Thursday, 13 April 2017

More tips for better B2B copywriting

A recent Marketing Booster looked at some of the differences between B2B and B2C copywriting. The main one was the way that – generally speaking – B2B readers are interested in features and detail. Their expertise means that they need to read the technical stuff, as well as the benefits.

Benefits do of course matter. However they need to be very relevant to the audience, which is why I looked at how thinking about ‘results’ rather than ‘benefits’ can help us focus in on what really matters to the B2B reader.

I promised more on things to consider when writing B2B copy, so in classic ‘people like lists’ fashion, here we go…

1. Shelve the spin

Whatever your political beliefs, you have to admit that much of the EU Referendum campaigning saw politicians take spin and the application of media training to a new level. Avoiding important issues may work for them, but savvy buyers will not like it if you do it in your marketing communications.

If something about your product or service is a bit ‘meh’, don’t try to pull the wool over your readers’ eyes. It is possible to be honest, without appearing too negative.

Let’s take a fictional example to see how you can do this. You are promoting a product that excels in one area, but is nothing better than standard in another. Here’s one way to address that: 

The central hub of the GH200X meets all the industry standards, but it isn’t what makes this product so special. Look past the hub and you’ll see a clever gearing system that means you can easily switch between six speeds – one more than most similar units. 

That extra gear is especially useful when you need to tackle extra-heavy loads and it’s why the capacity of the GH200X is 25 tonnes.

See how easy it is to quickly move on from the ‘standard’ feature and get to the more exciting bit? But at the same time, we have ticked off the standard bit too.

2. And avoid even more spin

It’s easy to get dragged into writing general, meaningless, trite phrases. So go easy on phrases like ‘class-leading performance’ and ‘unrivalled expertise’ UNLESS you can back them up with facts. Or just give people the facts and let them make up their own mind.

3. Be consistent

As organisations grow, so does the amount of information across their websites, catalogues, marketing campaign materials and so on. And that’s when things can get messy.

Some businesses have a real problem with this. Product descriptions on multiple media are written by the product, sales and marketing teams. So a customer could see the same product explained on the website and in sales presentations, product literature, advertisements, promotional videos and elsewhere. Different writers could have created each piece of content, with no process in place to ensure consistency.

Readers might see the same product being named in several different ways. To use a fictional example again, a single product might be listed as a 25kg Hub, a Central Hub Maxpower, Maximum Power Central Hub and so on. There are also often inconsistencies in product features, specifications and positioning messages.

Not all B2B customers will notice this or care about it. But some will, and arguably it’s the ones with the most money to spend who will pay most attention to detail. Remove the confusion and make sure everything is clear and consistent.

4. Involve the experts

Unless you are truly an expert in the subject matter, get the help of people who are. Delve deep into their knowledge and experience. And if you are a good writer but not so hot on talking to people, prioritise that as something to work on.

5. Don’t be dull

Finally, just because I am calling for the inclusion of information, detail and depth in B2B copy doesn’t mean it has to be dull or boring. In the next Marketing Booster, I’ll share some tips for getting some life, colour and even excitement into your writing, no matter what the subject matter.

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