10 copywriting tips for B2B marketers
James Fieldhouse, senior copywriter at OLIVER, lists his top 10 copywriting tips for B2B marketers
1. Always have a brief. Starting a copy task without having a brief is like building a piece of Ikea furniture without the instructions. Always, always request a brief. If you don’t, you run the risk of going into your copy task blind and drafting a piece that is completely misaligned with the objectives of the campaign.
2. Know your audience. Before putting pen to paper, ask yourself the following: who is it I’m targeting? What kinds of content are they passionate about? What does their day look like? And what demographic do they sit within? Only by answering these questions can you ensure the content you create is relevant and targeted towards the individual needs of your recipients.
3. And know your brand. Nailing your brand’s tone of voice is essential. The copy you write not only needs to engage your audience, but also needs to effectively represent the business you are promoting. This means immersing yourself in the business’ core values and identity. OLIVER’s in-house model allows employees to become fully engrained in the brands they represent and is an approach that has taught me the value of connecting with the client on a deeper level to relay their brand voice and message.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s an ancient Chinese proverb: “He who asks questions remains a fool for five minutes. He who does not remains a fool forever.” If you’re struggling with the task in front of you, don’t be afraid to speak up. Ask questions. Don’t suffer in silence. After all, raising questions can prompt discussion, and this spark of thought could have the potential to improve the content you create. Without asking, who knows?
5. Do something interesting! Writing for a B2B audience doesn’t always have to involve the mundane task of writing email newsletters and distributing them into the ether. We’re living in an era of technological innovation, and there are new and exciting ways in which to engage and involve your readership, particularly in the mobile and digital arena.
Take our 2013 campaign with HTC.The idea was to develop a direct mailer that would give people who downloaded the HTC Specialist app the chance to win a trip to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As a team, we decided we’d use augmented reality via the app to tell the story using Tom – one of HTC’s B2B trainers and a well-known face in his sector. The resulting DM drove huge downloads of the app – over 5000 in fact – and was part of a wider campaign that drove huge sales of the HTC One.
6. Keep your copy short and simple. B2B professionals are incredibly busy people and have fairly short attention spans. They don’t have the time to labour over long-winded copy and copious amounts of text. This means using short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Keeping things beautifully simple.
7. Make your headline punchy. It’s one thing to write great copy, but quite another to nail your title. Too often the headline is neglected and subsequently becomes an afterthought. The title is what sells your content, and to do this successfully, you need a headline that is catchy, explicit and uncomplicated.
Make it benefit-led and avoid the use of jargon and overly technical language so you don’t stifle your reader. Business professionals are overloaded with content nowadays, so your title is arguably the most important part of the writing task. Give it the love and attention it deserves.
8. Accuracy is power. No one likes a grammar Nazi, but to write effectively and authoritatively, you absolutely need to make sure all grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation is accurate. If not, you can lose credibility amongst your audience and embarrass the company you are representing.
9. Design and content go hand in hand. Words and visuals are symbiotic – neither can fulfil their purpose without the other. By harmonising the written word with a piece of creative, you can achieve a whole that captures the attention of your target audience, to effectively communicate your offer.
10. Take risks. Finally, be bold in your decisions. Don’t succumb to fear. It may feel daring in a B2B space, but it’s always better to opt for the creative route. Avoid siding with dry and mundane copy. Remember that, while you are communicating with business professionals, there’s a person at the other end of your DM, not an inanimate being. And while not all brands will like risk-taking copy, it’s always best to take them outside their comfort zones and test the boundaries.