B2B stands for business-to-business. A copywriter who specializes in this field assists businesses to create marketing materials promoting their products or services. Those products or services are sold to other businesses, as opposed to directly to consumers (B2C).
Some people also refer to B2B copywriters as industrial copywriters because much of their work comes from manufacturers.
Full disclosure — I, Susan Greene, am a freelance B2B copywriter. Although based in Orlando, Florida, I work with businesses all over the U.S. and the world to write copy that helps them sell their products or services to other businesses.
Get the picture? These companies don’t waste their time promoting to the general public. Instead they focus on marketing to other businesses, which is who buys their products or services.
Whenever you are creating marketing materials, you must have the buyer persona in mind. What benefits can your product deliver to that buyer? What features are must-haves to that buyer? If the buyer is a business as opposed to a consumer, your answers to those questions will be markedly different.
Yes, of course. The crux of marketing, whether B2B or B2C, is to describe what you are selling and why customers should care. You need to define their problem and demonstrate how your product is the perfect solution.
You further want to explain how your brand is different or better than the competition’s. Then include details to foster trust and craft a call-to-action that will move the prospect along in the selling process.
Most B2B copywriting is designed to accomplish at least one of three goals:
The marketing tools to achieve these objectives are diverse and can include: ads, brochures, press releases, feature articles, case studies, reports, white papers, websites, direct mail, social media networking and more.
B2C copywriting tends to be more creative and eye-catching. With so much media competing for your attention, cleverness counts. Emotional triggers like hunger, status and desire also play a role. And shorter tends to do better than longer, as the average consumer has little patience.
With B2B copywriting, you’re likely targeting a more defined niche and can speak directly to their needs. What’s important is that your copy is informative and technically accurate.
With B2B copywriting you can speak the language of your industry. Jargon, catch phrases and buzzwords are fine if you’re confident the reader is familiar with them.
You are sharing your expertise with the reader. Convey the rational and logical reasons your product works more so than the emotional. Lengthy content that educates can work well when it provides useful product information.
B2B copy can target different personas. You might be writing for engineers with a solid understanding and interest in technical data.
Or you might be targeting a manager who makes buying decisions based on obtaining certain results but he or she may not understand technical specifications.
The vocabulary you use and value propositions will differ based on the buyer persona you’re targeting.
Yes, your B2B copy can target specific vertical markets. Here’s a quick example: One of my clients makes plastic bags that are used to package metal parts. What makes them unique is the bags are treated with some sort of chemical that prevents anything metal inside them from rusting.
One audience this client targets is manufacturers who produce and ship metal parts. Another audience is the military, which purchases and inventories metal components for guns and other military equipment. Finally, a third audience is companies that produce automotive parts that get shipped to car manufacturers for placement in their vehicles.
As you can imagine, each target audience has its own interests, needs and hot buttons. A skilled B2B copywriter can create marketing content that speaks to each vertical market individually.
Facts. Steer clear of hyperbole and grand-standing in your B2B copywriting. It will detract from your credibility. Instead, provide specific, concrete, rock-solid evidence of your claims. Then back up those claims with examples that illustrate your point.
B2B and B2C copy should be concise, clear and easy to read. Make it interesting to engage your target audience and you’ll get results.
When choosing a copywriter for your industrial copy, you want someone who has experience in the B2B arena. While she doesn’t need to be familiar with your particular industry – she can learn that – she does need at least a comfort level with industrial and technical subject matters.
You want someone who asks good questions and is willing to do the research to get up to speed on your business. She should also have marketing sense so that her copy targets the right audience and includes persuasive elements.
I can’t speak for all B2B copywriters, but the way that I work with my clients is that you own any work that you have contracted and paid for. Often, that means you can leverage your investment in professional copy by repurposing it for other marketing pieces.
For example, if you hire a copywriter for your website, some of the same copy might work in a direct mailer, an ad or a brochure. You may need to shorten, lengthen or revise it slightly, but there’s nothing wrong with using the same thoughts and key phrases.
Sounds like you need a freelance copywriter. You can hire that individual for specific projects. She doesn’t go on your payroll and she doesn’t work at your location. She’s a vendor who likely does copywriting for many different clients.
It’s worth mentioning too, that you don’t need to hire someone local. Most freelance copywriters conduct their interactions with clients via phone, email and Skype (or similar video software). They therefore are able to work with clients pretty much anywhere.
As a freelance B2B copywriter myself, I can tell you that although I’m based in Orlando, Florida, I work with clients in all types of industries all over the world.
Some of those clients I’ve been working with for many years. They’ll hire me as needed when they are ready to build a new website, create a brochure to promote something like a new product, or write a press release to announce an event.
These clients like that I’m not on their payroll and yet, I know enough about their business that they don’t have to invest time bringing me up to speed for each new project.
Most freelance B2B copywriters work on a project basis. They’ll ask you detailed questions about your business and marketing objectives and then put together a proposal that includes a price. The price is determined by a variety of factors such as the length and complexity of the project.
Most B2B copywriters require a 50% deposit up front and the balance due upon successful project completion. If you establish an ongoing relationship with a B2B copywriter, she will likely be willing to extend you payment terms.
If you hire a freelance B2B copywriter, you’re getting a talented professional who can present your material in an interesting and informative way.
You’re also freeing up your own time to work on the things you do best such as selling your product and managing your people.
Congratulations. It sounds like you’ve been successful in spite of your lack of marketing, not because of it. Unfortunately, you’ll never know how much business you might have lost because you did no marketing.
Regardless of what industry you’re in, competition has likely increased not decreased. If you want to protect your share of the market and perhaps try to grow it, you’ll need to get more aggressive in generating leads and sales.
Skillful marketing and persuasive copywriting will help you attract and engage customers, resulting in profitable opportunities.
Listen, B2B marketing and selling don’t have to be sleazy. You’re not selling used cars, so don’t use marketing copy that sounds like used car spiels.
Instead develop well-crafted copy designed to educate and inform. Provide solutions. Then your customers will know you’re the experts and are sincere in helping them. They’ll be receptive to your ideas or products and services. B2B marketing is less hype and more about building relationships.
An industrial copywriter experienced in writing B2B text should be able to communicate with your audience. She should be skilled in taking complex information and making it palatable for the lay person. She should be able to simplify the technical details while focusing on the results. Don’t talk about how the drill works; describe the perfect holes it makes.
All of your copy should be technically accurate, of course. It should focus on benefits and results. However, for techies you’ll want to also include features and specs.
In addition to narrative text, use graphs, tables, charts, diagrams, photos and illustrations to provide supporting technical information.
Finally, you can use case histories and white papers to provide more detailed technical information to your industrial buyers.