When you’re working your way towards a successful B2B writing career, you’re likely to stumble into a pitfall or two. You’re likely aware of some of these, including some of the basic ones to avoid: missing deadlines, skimping on proofreading, acting unprofessionally, and not following the client’s instructions.
If you’ve successfully navigated away from these, that’s a great start. But here are five more better-disguised pitfalls to keep an eye out for.
Pitfall #1: Showing off your skill
When you start working with a client, it’s natural to want to put all your training to use. You want to prove that you know what you’re talking about, and that hiring you was a good decision.
And you should do that — to a point.
But you can also take this too far, especially if your client already has existing content in their own voice. Even if that voice is stilted and wordy, you can’t simply fix it overnight. It would be too big of a change.
Instead, you can use your new skills to make smaller changes while still sounding authentic to your client. By showing this respectful balance, you’re more likely to continue working with the client, and then you can make additional updates over time.
And in all cases, it’s important to remember that the goal of your writing isn’t to use as many techniques as you can. It’s to provide value and keep the prospect engaged.
Pitfall #2: Thinking you know best
Right next to the showing off pitfall is the one where you think you know best. After all, you’re the trained copywriter. You’ve kept up-to-date on all the latest information, so it can be tempting to think you don’t need to listen to anyone else.
But one thing all copywriters should know is that you’re never done learning. You won’t have all the answers, no matter how much good information you have to share. Not only that, but you can learn from everyone, including your client.
Because even though the client might need your help, it doesn’t mean they don’t have useful knowledge of their own. They could have some great ideas, and even be good writers, but they simply don’t have the time to do it all. And they can certainly give you very valuable insight into their customers.
The best approach is to share what you know while being humble enough to accept ideas and suggestions from others.
Pitfall #3: Forgetting the audience
You also want to make sure you avoid the trap of thinking of your client as your audience.
It can be very easy to do this. After all, the client will be telling you all the great benefits and features of their product or service, and why it’s better than other options. You might get so caught up in their enthusiasm that you start echoing back what they’ve told you.
The problem is, you’re not actually writing for them. Your client knows the problem their solution is trying to solve, and every detail about why it can help, but the prospect won’t be that far along. You need to meet the prospect where they’re at, not where you want them to end up.
To help with this, you can start by reviewing your client’s avatar for their ideal prospect, if they have one.
If an avatar isn’t available, you can start getting a sense of the audience by reviewing case studies and testimonials. You could even copy some of those by hand, to get into the rhythm of the way they speak. (And yes, by hand works best for this.)
You may also want to keep a picture of the ideal prospect handy, or perhaps a photo of an existing customer who gave a glowing testimonial. Looking at it while writing can help keep your focus on the right person.
Pitfall #4: Eliminating emotion
Staying focused on your customer will also help you avoid another problem — cutting all emotion out of what you’re writing.
It’s true that with B2B, you’re not going to have high drama in your content. But you also don’t want it to be so dry and emotionless that your readers can’t connect with what you’re writing.
And even with B2B, the emotional benefit is important. If the prospect can do their job more easily, in less time, and with less aggravation, it will have a positive impact on their work and overall lives. You don’t have to go overboard, but showing the benefits, including the emotional ones, is crucial to keeping the prospect engaged.
Pitfall #5: Being influenced by existing materials
This last pitfall is one you can slide into without even being aware of it. It’s when you let the existing copy and content have too much influence on what you’re writing.
Maybe you’ve had this experience, where you read someone’s work, and suddenly you start using similar phrases and styles. In some cases, this isn’t a bad thing, but it is if you’re trying to update content.
It takes practice to capture existing information and ideas in new and more compelling ways. You may not achieve it with your first draft. That’s fine, as long as you have time to go back and truly update it afterward.
And as part of this, make sure you’re not getting blinded to other angles or perspectives. It can be easy to fall in line with what was written before, but you want to stay open-minded about ways of approaching the information. That way, you can keep it fresh and relevant, instead of ending up with a stale rehash of what came before.
Stay on the lookout
This isn’t an all-inclusive list by any means. You’ll likely run into other pitfalls, or perhaps you already have. The good news is that once you know what to look for, you’re much better able to avoid these kinds of mistakes, and you can proceed with your career more quickly and with greater confidence.