Dear Aspiring B2B Copywriters, The B2B world is a gold mine of opportunity...IF you know what you’re doing. The problem is, most writers don’t. They either…
- Don’t know what the B2B market is
- Don’t know how to find B2B clients to write for
- Don’t know how to write in a “B2B language” (that isn’t boring AF)
What is B2B Copywriting?Ok, before we dive into how to write killer B2B copy, let’s pause and make sure everyone understands what the heck B2B copywriting actually is. First, we need to get some terminology out of the way.
B2B = Business-to-Business B2C = Business-to-ConsumerWhen most people think of business, they think of B2C—businesses that sell directly to the individual consumer (mechanics, dentists, restaurants, personal trainers, department stores, etc). But there’s a whole other world out there...businesses that sell to other businesses. These would be your parts manufacturers, business software companies, logistics and freight companies, business lawyers, customer service companies, HR agencies, office supply companies...the list goes on. So, if B2B companies are companies that sell to other businesses...that means B2B copywriting is simply the written marketing material they use to do so. Most people think copy targeting a business needs to be way different than copy written for the individual consumer (“regular” people making “regular” purchases). But most people are wrong. And it’s hurting their sales. That’s where you—the soon-to-be savvy B2B copywriter—come in.
Why B2B Copywriting is a HUGE Opportunity for Freelance WritersThere are many reasons why focusing on B2B copywriting can be a gamechanger for copywriters... #1.) B2B companies sell high-ticket items, bulk orders, or ongoing services. That means the average sale is WAY higher than B2C companies—making high-converting copy extremely valuable (and well-compensated). #2.) Unlike consumer purchases that are made in a matter of minutes, B2B sales processes are long. Since there’s a lot at stake and they involve multiple decision-makers, a buying decision can take weeks (even months). Potential buyers require ongoing nurturing, which means an endless pile of copywriting projects for you. #3.) It’s not as “sexy” as B2C copywriting. Unsexy = Less Competition. There are MILLIONS of businesses (and even entire industries) out there that people don’t even know exist. Since there are so many niches, it’s easier to become the “go-to” copywriter in a niche. (How many B2B industrial cleaning supplies copywriters do you think there are out there?) #4.) Lastly, these guys desperately need you. Most B2B copy out there SUCKS and shouldn’t be hard to improve.
The #1 Mistake in B2B CopywritingHere’s the reason why most B2B copy sucks. People think CASUAL = UNPROFESSIONAL. To maintain a professional image, companies think they have to write with a stick up their butt. They load their marketing with overly complex buzzwords and boring technical jargon that nobody understands. Well, guess what? People don’t buy things they don’t understand. People buy things from businesses who they can relate to—from businesses whose sales messages don’t put them to sleep (or leave them scratching their heads). It’s true, B2B products can be boring and technical. But if your job is to convince a food processing plant to buy your anti-corrosive stainless steel powertrain parts to use in their machines, don’t you think you better make your message as simple and entertaining as possible? Remember, you may be selling to a food processing plant, but the buying decision is made by a human being. Let’s call that human being Bob. Bob is a professional. He’s serious about his work, makes important decisions, and even wears a tie. But after Bob clocks out, he sheds that suit and heads to the bar to have a good time with his buddies. He drinks, he dances, he laughs... This is the Bob you’re selling to. A Bob with a personality who likes things that are fun, and doesn’t like things that aren’t fun. If you want your copy to resonate with him, make it fun. The trick here is making your copy fun without being a clown. But before we talk about how to do that, let’s look at the wide variety of writing projects you’ll see in the B2B world.
Types of B2B Copywriting ProjectsB2B copywriting projects include all the “normal” copywriting stuff you already know about—sales pages, autoresponders, web copy, direct mail, etc. But since B2B sales processes are longer and more complex, they also include projects like…
- White papers
- Case studies
- Press releases
- Sales brochures and sell sheets
- Sales scripts
- Blog posts
- Online and print newsletters
- And much more
Options for Choose a B2B Copywriting Niche
B2B Copywriting Tips (How to Not Be Boring)So, now we know what B2B copywriting is and the different types of projects available. Next, let’s look at tips for writing interesting B2B copy that actually converts. #1.) Write like you speak. Complex technical jargon and confusing buzzwords don’t make a company look professional...it makes them look boring. Before submitting your copy, read through it and ask, “Would a human ever say this?” Stop writing like a robot. #2.) Better yet, write like THEY speak. Know your target’s lingo and use it in your copy. (Make sure to use it correctly though or you’ll lose credibility). #3.) Know the difference between being casual and being a jackass. You’re writing doesn’t need to be funny or wacky, it just needs to be clear. Don’t be a clown.
THE WRONG WAY:
THE RIGHT WAY:#4.) Use logical AND emotional arguments. B2B decisions are more data-driven than B2C. You need logical arguments and proof to back up all your claims. However, remember that you’re trying to persuade a human being to buy, and human beings make emotional decisions. #5.) Know your exact target inside and out. Who will be reading your message? The CEO? A purchasing manager? Someone who works on the factory floor? This is important because you want your message to connect with the daily struggles, worries, and aspirations of whoever is reading it. And the daily struggles of a CEO are going to be way different than those of someone working in the trenches every day. If there are multiple decision-makers, you might want to write multiple versions of your message. #6.) Appeal to both the personal and professional side of “Bob”. Bob’s motivators to buy from you can be broken into two categories. Good B2B copy needs to hit on both of them. #7.) Convince B2B clients that casual is ok. Some B2B businesses will feel uncomfortable using casual language and getting rid of their buzzwords. They think it’ll make them look less professional. If this happens, ask them, “Do you want to be professional? Or do you want to make sales?” Then convince them to let you run a small sample test where you can prove to them you know what you’re talking about. #8.) Cut the fluff. Business people are busy, get to the point. Getting readers to imagine a hypothetical situation might work with B2C copy. But in the B2B world, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Boring B2B Copywriting Examples (And How To Improve Them)Spend any amount of time in the B2B world and you’ll quickly realize many companies are clueless when it comes to copy. This is great news for you—the budding B2B copywriter—because it’s almost impossible to make things worse. Even if you’re brand new, improving some of this stuff will be a no-brainer.
Physical Therapy Advertisement
This could be either a B2B or B2C ad depending on who is being targeted (e.g., an entire office vs. individual patients). Either way, it uses professional jargon that isn’t necessary.
Brick Manufacturers Homepage
This homepage was originally 100% about the company and 0% about what the company can do for the buyer—a big marketing No-No made by tons of B2B companies.
Logistics Company Sales Brochure
I legit have no idea what their original version even means. Keys here are to (1) focus on why your reader should care, and (2) write like you speak.
How to Find B2B Copywriting Clients (A Step-by-Step Strategy)
When you’re just getting started in the B2B world, it’s hard to wrap your mind around all the opportunities out there.What niches are there? What are actual examples of B2B companies? Where do you look to find them? These are all great questions that can be quickly solved with a simple exercise (inspired by Jennifer Gregory’s “Audience First” Method). You basically “peel back the layers” until you get to the B2B companies. Here’s how it works: #1.) Make a list of all your roles, hobbies, and interests. Then choose one of them. #2.) Take the interest you chose, and brainstorm a list of products and services that someone might use related to that topic. #3.) For each product/service on your list, create another list of all the companies/brands that make/sell each of those products (or offers those services). Google is your friend here. #4.) Choose a company from the list and imagine the daily operations of that company. What products, services, and equipment do they use each day? #5.) Lastly, research companies that offer those products, services, and equipment. THESE are your B2B companies. #6.) Repeat for more ideas.
----------This exercise seems tedious, but after a few rounds, you’ll realize there are millions of B2B companies out there waiting for you to fix their boring copy. And to make a good living as a B2B copywriter, all you need is a handful.
Hope this got your B2B juices flowing! Sincerely, Mitch Glass