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Break the rules: why b2b copywriting doesn’t mean boring

B2B marketing has shared one of our top tips for how b2b marketers can improve their copywriting.

Our first tip – be accessible – was just a taster. Here’s 6 more steps to effective b2b copywriting and examples of how we have put this into practice.

1. Be brave
Take your brand out of the comfort zone by understanding the market and putting the customer problem at the heart of communication.
Sun Tzu once said, “Fight where the enemy is not”, and this rings true for b2b copywriting, by helping your message stand out. However, it’s all relative. Being brave for brands such as Volkswagen isn’t a stretch, but for some clients it can be a giant leap. Taking that leap offers an opportunity to drum up debate and stir up the competition.

E.g. Elsevier, anti-piracy campaign across social media, infographic, video, web copy and posters
This example concept employs bold tactics and succinct copy to provide a dystopian feel across a range of channels. We chose to portray the reality of piracy, rather than avoiding the issue – to show what could happen if readers continue to stop buying genuine products.

2. Be honest

Know your strengths. Tell your audience where you can help them and where you can’t. It’s better to do one thing well, than make too many promises that your brand can’t keep.

E.g. MWheels, ad copy
A good example of not trying to find a one-size-fits-all approach to copywriting. These ads are the result of in-depth research into the varied customer triggers as part of the copywriting process. B2b marketers will often choose the lowest common denominator and generalise the message to appeal to everyone, but no one at the same time. Here, we are honest about how MWheels can help a specific audience, and the reader is clear we’re talking to them.

3. Be succinct

It’s been said before, and we’ll say it again. Short, snappy sentences will hold your audience’s attention much more readily than lengthy prose. Especially in this digital age, writing succinctly works as well for longer features as it does ad copy.

E.g. Peptan, website and ‘One Peptan’ concept
The Peptan brand has a wide range of features that appeal to different sectors. Instead of drafting copy for each audience, we highlighted the breadth of health benefits that just one ingredient can bring, using the strapline ‘One Peptan’. This is an example of how succinct copywriting can be more effective for standing out against the competition.

4. Be engaging
Don’t focus so much on being grammatically correct that you miss the point of the exercise. Language is constantly evolving and has moved on from ancient grammar rules; instead use words that engage the reader, providing a balance between the active and passive voice.

E.g. MIDEL, Safety Inside ad
The body copy of the advert focuses on the benefits of the MIDEL product, while delivering the overall emotional benefit of safety. The active copywriting style shows that not all product advertising needs to be focused on features and technical details. Audiences’ attention can be captured and maintained using emotions and feelings that have broad appeal.

5. Be accurate

At the risk of sounding contradictory, copy should be entertaining – but not at the expense of being accurate. Don’t forget the reason you are drafting content in the first place. It is to inform and educate your readers. And the nature of b2b copywriting is that it can be technical, often complex and sometimes dry.

E.g. Corriculite white paper
This white paper is an example of how we have translated technical content into more understandable language for a non-specialised audience – without ‘dumbing down’ any technicalities. Using clear and logical language helps to appeal to a scientific audience, while the content is divided into easy-to-read sections to allow the reader to skip to the most appropriate place.

6. Be relevant
One size doesn’t fit all. It can be tempting to make the same copy work for a wide range of audiences simultaneously. But will this encourage people to share your content? Probably not, if it’s not aimed at their level. Cast a thorough look at your audience to identify purchasing trigger points before writing to engage the reader. Being relevant can work on two levels; using the right language to reach the target audience and the right channel to ensure they see it. For example, with social media copy, try A/B testing to find out what works, and what doesn’t.

E.g. DSM’s TalkingNutrition website, blog and social media posts
An example of a blog post covering the latest science on cardiovascular health, and how it was positioned on Twitter and LinkedIn to reach very informed academics, less science-inclined customers (most marketing or sales professionals) and healthcare practitioners, those who are getting hands-on experience with the subject matter. Through A/B testing copy, we’ve also found messages that simplify topics, as well as engage and educate very different audiences.

If there is one point to take away from our top tips, it is that tailoring content to different audiences underpins everything in b2b copywriting. You also need to make copy that breaks the mould and stands out from the competition. But without relevancy, the right people simply won’t register what you’re saying.

For more information on the services BDB provides, email [email protected]

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