Three tips to take any B2B copy from blah to brilliant

What’s the difference between copywriting for customers and copywriting for businesses?

One is writing for people. The other is writing for people who happen to be at work.

Many people seem to think the second someone crosses the office threshold or dons trousers without an elasticated waistband, they suddenly start craving jargon and complexity. Spare them the colloquialisms and simple English, they’re a businessperson. A high flyer. A city slicker. Validate the importance of their role with complicated words, goddammit!

But businesspeople are still people. And they should be addressed as such.

Think about it – companies can’t buy things. Companies can’t make decisions. Companies can’t be influenced by what you tell them. But people can. Fundamentally, B2B transactions involve people communicating with other people, the same as a B2C interaction. Just because they’re wearing suits and sat at a desk doesn’t mean you need to swallow a thesaurus to have a word with them – in fact, there’s even more reason not to…

Busy bee2B

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t consider themselves ‘busy’ these days.

So, your reader is at work, slowly chipping away at an endless to-do list – when they’re not stuck in another meeting, that is.

The last thing they have time to do is have to use a code-breaker to decipher your email. And chances are, they’re not keen to use valuable mental energy to work out what you’re trying to sell them and how it can benefit them.

Remember, they’re doing you a favour by reading what you’ve sent them. They don’t owe you their time, no matter how useful you think they might find your services. Demonstrate that you respect their busy schedule by keeping your top of the funnel B2B comms short, relevant, and easy to digest.

You can always make your writing more succinct and substantial – cutting out the clichés is a great place to start.

Think selfish

The decisions your audience make will be based on how to benefit their business – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also thinking about how it will impact them as an individual.

Economist and philosopher Adam Smith once said ‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest’ – and it’s true.

A CEO cares about increasing shareholder value for the greater good of the company, but knowing his bonus is based on it is an even bigger incentive.

Similarly, an IT manager knows how crucial network security is to her business. But she’s also well aware of the positive impact that slashing the number of hours lost to dealing with breaches and malicious attacks will have on her reputation, and how that might lead to promotion.

That said, you don’t need to be explicit to appeal to your audience’s personal motivations. If you can communicate that your services will save them time or money, help them gain peace of mind, improve productivity, make bigger profits or whatever else they might want to achieve, they’ll put two and two together themselves.

If in doubt…

Breaking an addiction to writing like you’re a Victorian lawyer can be difficult, and words like ‘hence’ and ‘thus’ can hang around in your vocabulary long after you pledge to adopt a more conversational tone of voice.

Luckily there’s a sure-fire, time-tested way to see if you’ve got it right: try reading what you’ve written aloud to yourself.

If it sounds like the sort of thing you’d say to a client on the phone or face-to-face, you’ve nailed it. If it makes you cringe or you stumble over your own jargon, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Above all else, just remember that the people you’re writing for may be rich or powerful (or both!) but, like you, they don’t want to be bored. If you can write to them like you’d want to be written to, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, you’ll be a Man, my son!

Need a bit of inspiration to get started?