Have you ever written Business-to-Consumer (B2C) copy?
If so, then you can probably write Business-to-Business (B2B) copy. At least that’s what some people assume…
But it’s certainly not a given.
B2B copy has its own nuances. You need to maintain readers’ attention and be persuasive like you do with B2C copy, but with a lighter hand. Of course, not too light a hand, or the copy won’t be effective.
It’s a balancing act. And knowing how to do it isn’t automatic, regardless of your other skills. That’s why you see the same mistakes cropping up in B2B copy over and over again.
Fortunately, once you identify them, it’s easy to avoid them.
7 Common B2B Copy Mistakes (and How to Leave Them Out of Your Writing)
- Don’t bore your audience.
This rule is #1 because it’s so critical. Boring is the minimal threshold you need to cross to maintain your audience’s attention. If you bore them, nothing else matters. They will stop reading.
Luckily, the opposite is also true. If you keep your prospects engaged, then other things matter less. If you keep them interested, people will keep reading (or watching) even if they’re not quite your target market. And they’ll be more willing to overlook other issues with your copy as well.
Not sure if your copy is interesting enough? Show it to a few people you trust. They don’t need to be experts in the subject matter as long as you avoid making mistake #2…
- Don’t get too technical.
The B2B sales funnel can be long. It takes a lot more copy to sell a new five-figure office equipment item than it does to sell a $47 online class.
A lot of copy may be needed. And it’s up to you to take care that the more you write, you don’t start getting too technical or — just as bad — jargon-y.
When people think about writing for “business,” it can be easy to let these types of words accidentally sneak in. But just like B2C copy, B2B copy should focus on benefits, rather than features. People don’t really care about how your product or service works. They care about why it’s going to help them.
This is human nature. The fact that people are reading your copy in a work context doesn’t change that.
Copy is no place for technical writing. If you really need to get technical, save it for post-purchase instructional materials.
- Don’t forget to be persuasive enough.
This goes well with the prior “don’t.” If you’re spending lots of time explaining, you might not be persuading enough.
Remember, though, you want to avoid being too heavy-handed. Subtle, less intense language than you would use in B2C copy is key here. But always remember that the point is to motivate the reader to do something — signing up, clicking, requesting information, setting up a demonstration, and so forth.
Persuasion is the primary goal of any copy. Don’t lose sight of that!
- Don’t force your reader to muddle through long blocks copy.
The fact that you’re writing for business doesn’t mean your copy should read like a novel. Pages and pages of long, dense text become tedious for anyone to read.
Readability is just as important in B2B copy as B2C. Give your copy some breathing room and break up paragraphs into shorter chunks. White space is your friend.
And consider design as well. You may want to make some suggestions to your client. Add in some images from a free stock photo site, or suggest types of images that would go well with the copy.
You might also want to pull out a few sentences here and there to use as sidebars or callouts. Even if your client doesn’t take your suggestions, they’ll probably appreciate them, and they’ll see that you bring added value to the table.
- Don’t neglect to think about brand and voice.
Unless you’re working with a new company, chances are your client already has some sort of brand identity.
It might not be very strong. If that’s the case, consider if your project can help develop the voice more. As you learn about your client, try to infuse your copy with its personality.
But if your client’s brand is already a big part of its marketing — and unless they’re looking to go in a new direction — then your copy should be consistent with it.
- Don’t try to talk to your entire audience at once.
As mentioned earlier, the B2B sales process can be a lengthy one. Different customers will buy at different times. And especially in a business context, there may be a formal purchasing process that many companies go through.
There’s virtually no way each of your client’s prospects are all in the same place in the purchasing process. Some are just starting to gather information. Others have narrowed down a few potential options, and others are actively negotiating a deal.
Prospects at different points in the buyer’s cycle should receive different copy. Someone just starting to research will need different marketing collateral than someone who is about to sign a contract. Plan out funnels for your client (for a fee, of course) and write all the pieces they’ll need.
- Don’t ignore the follow-up.
Lots of people view a sale as the end game in the funnel…
But that’s a huge mistake.
It’s generally much easier and less expensive to sell to an existing customer than a new one. And in a B2B context, the purchaser typically expects to hear from their vendor. (Indeed, to not follow up after someone purchases a five- or six-figure item might be deemed rude!)
So make sure to account for post-sale copy as you plan out your sales funnels — and make sure it all contains a call-to-action.
What’s Great about These Mistakes
These mistakes are easy to fix — and some come with a built-in opportunity to propose more work. So don’t shy away from looking at your work, or your client’s marketing, critically. You’ll improve your writing… and could end up with another project!