There is no doubt that the B2B industry is wide open with opportunity for web writers. Even new ones!
While you don’t need years and years of experience to get hired, you do need to know a few key things about B2B marketing. Approaching a B2B marketing manager without this knowledge is setting yourself up for failure.
The good news is that you can know exactly what you need to so you can present yourself as a competent professional very easily. In this article, Steve Slaunwhite gives you a checklist of six key things you must know to impress a B2B marketing manager and get hired for their web copy projects.
Study his list and see where you can improve your knowledge and skills. Before you know it you’ll be a successful B2B web copywriter!
Business-to-business (aka B2B) is by far the largest web writing market in the world.
Does that fact surprise you?
There are more than 5 million companies in North America that sell their products and services primarily to other companies (rather than to consumers like you and I).
And, many of these companies are serious Internet marketers.
On a continuous basis, these companies produce web pages, emails, e-newsletters, banner ads, and more, as well as sell sheets, case studies, and white papers in downloadable formats — to help sell their business products and services.
How do you break into this lucrative market with your web writing services?
In most cases, the person you need to contact at a B2B company is the marketing manager. And, he or she will need to be satisfied that you know the following:
1. Know the B2B web marketing pieces and how they’re used.
If you don’t know the web marketing pieces that B2B companies typically use to help sell their products and services, few marketing managers will be confident in hiring you.
You can probably guess that B2B companies use web pages, emails, e-newsletters, and banner ads. But do you know how they’re used, and why? And, do you know what a case study is? Or lead-gen email? Or sell sheet?
You must understand what these web marketing pieces are all about. Believe me, a marketing manager can tell if you don’t.
2. Know how to write those pieces.
This goes without saying. You need to know how to write an effective lead-gen email, product description web page, case study, and so forth.
If fact, you can expect a marketing manager to probe your knowledge in this area. She may ask, for example, “What’s your approach to writing a lead-capture page?” or “What’s your process for writing a case study?”
The thing is, lead-capture pages and case studies are fairly easy to write! But, you do need to know how to write them.
3. Know what lead generation is all about.
80% of the work you do as a web writer for B2B companies will involve generating and nurturing “leads.”
You might be asked, for example, to write a banner ad to promote your client’s latest white paper, along with a lead-capture page and a series of “lead-nurturing” emails.
You need to understand how each of these marketing elements fit within a typical lead generation and nurturing process.
This isn’t difficult. But, you do need to know this stuff!
4. Know what makes business buyers tick.
Business buyers are different than consumers. Yet, they’re still human! So, they still make buying decisions based on their own personal needs and wants. However, they must also consider what’s best for the business. And this dichotomy makes writing persuasively to business buyers a little more complicated.
In my B2B copywriting program, I refer to this phenomenon as the business buyer’s “split personality.” And, you need to understand it in order to write web copy that targets this audience.
5. Know how to conduct a good interview.
For some types of web writing projects, a B2B marketing manager will need you to put on your journalist’s hat. She’ll want you to interview contacts inside (and sometimes outside) the company to get details on a product’s features and benefits.
For product success stories (aka case studies), good interviewing skills are even more crucial. The marketing manager will want you to interview one of her company’s customers. And, of course, she’ll want you to ask intelligent questions and make a good impression.
6. Know the B2B writing style.
If you write an emotionally-charged sales letter in an attempt to get the business person to buy on impulse, your copy will fail miserably. On the other hand, if your copy is stiff and “business-like,” it will also not work.
The ideal B2B writing style is somewhere in between those two extremes. You need to know where that sweet spot is.
So, that’s the rundown on what B2B marketing managers look for in a web writer.
If it all sounds too complicated, it really isn’t. You can learn what you need to fairly quickly. Especially if you’re already a good writer and know web writing basics.
The effort is worth it. B2B web writing pays very well. Getting $1,000 for a short, one-page email is not unusual; a project you can easily get done in less than a day.
So, make a commitment to “get B2B savvy.” If you do, the world’s largest writing market will open up for you.