Just as with writing for consumers, B2B content comes with its own challenges. Not only are your audience going to be clued up from a technical perspective, leaving no margin for error, they’re also likely to be wary, or dare I say even cynical, when it comes to marketing copy.
Add to this, that your B2B ‘audience’ is actually probably several different audiences who care about different aspects of your product or service, and it becomes even trickier – especially when one piece of content needs to span these different needs, for example, a web page.
Avoiding some common mistakes takes you a big step forwards towards improving your B2B copy though. Here are six repeat offenders.
Using internal jargon – now I’m not saying don’t include industry terminology. When writing for a B2B audience, this is actually a good idea in moderation – it ticks some mental boxes, showing you understand the sector and that you’re talking their language. By internal jargon, I mean the language and phrases that become common within an individual business, and get used to such an extent they become normalised, but this can be confusing or even alienating to an outside audience.
Being impersonal – you might be writing for a B2B audience, but remember, you’re still writing for an individual person within a business. An individual person who has challenges and dislikes, and key drivers just as your B2C audience would. Their actions are still dictated by human emotions, so it’s not an excuse for boring copy. It’s also a good reason to ditch some of the business language.
Making unsubstantiated claims – this goes for any content, but in a B2B world, you can’t move for phrases like ‘best’, ‘leading’ and ‘number one’. A little piece of my copywriting heart dies when I see one. I have no problem with quantifiable claims (as long as they’re accurate!) like ‘largest’, ‘longest running’ or ‘highest rated’, but terms like ‘leading’ make it very clear that you don’t fit these brackets. It cheapens your brand and weakens the trust you have with your audience.
Slipping between first and third person narrative – when talking as your business, slipping between the use of first person narrative (‘we are a digital marketing agency) and third person narrative (‘Browser Media is a digital marketing agency’) is very common, and perhaps isn’t surprising when you may have different marketing channels, and different people working on those marketing channels, but it can be jarring to read. Neither option is right or wrong, so decide what feels right for your brand, and put some rules in place for consistency.
Navel gazing – focus should always be on the reader and what they need, rather than simply how great you are. This is true of course of B2C writing too, but I think because we’re always told how quickly you need to grab a consumer’s attention, you see a bit more of this in B2B copy. Even if it’s not outright boasting, there can be too much of a focus on the company, and not why it’s needed. Be selective, think about what’s of interest to others, and discard the rest.
Lack of visual consideration – another good habit that can be lost when we switch from B2C to B2B, is the lack of visuals and formatting. Images and words have a strong relationship, with both impacting the other. Well thought-out imagery can really bring your words to life. Similarly, bullet points and sub headings are important for breaking up your content, making it easier to digest, whilst highlighting the most important parts.
Above all else, remember that you’re writing for a person. By writing with that person in mind, you’re considering what they know, what language they use, and what they care about, and in doing this, naturally you’ll write stronger B2B copy.