For most of us—the phrase B2C marketing conjures up images of bright, fun copy and colorful animation. By comparison, the world of B2B marketing is a grey, boring wasteland filled with technical jargon and product screenshots.
But, company culture is experiencing a major shift. Take it from me, a B2B marketing manager, working from home in my bathrobe, finishing up the copy for a zombie-themed infographic. It’s evident that the line between the B2B and B2C worlds becomes less and less clear.
This blurring of lines is largely due to the influx of content consumers have access to online. As a result, brands will do just about anything to stand apart from their competitors—many of these tactics mark a clear departure from traditional B2B branding practices.
This begs the question—is the work of a B2B writer that much different than that of a B2C writer? And, if so, what can we learn from these differences?
Today we answer these questions and more as we explore the relationship between a writer and their audience. More specifically, we look at the different lessons B2B writers can learn from their B2C counterparts. Let’s get into it!
1. Don’t be afraid to develop a unique voice
Let’s start with a question. As a reader, would you prefer perfect grammar and sentence structure? Or, would you prefer less formal content injected with personality and real-world knowledge—content that genuinely pulls you in and keeps your attention? The answer is pretty clear.
The same can be said for B2B readers. When writing for a business audience, you should still consider the humans who read your content. Ditch the robotic product speak and lose your fixation on perfection. Instead, I urge you to experiment with formats that allow you to develop and use your own voice.
This is especially important in our era of influencer marketing. Think about it this way: A B2B copywriter with a loyal following is far more valuable to a company than a writer who regularly contributes perfect, but boring, content.
As with most B2B marketing tactics, honing a unique voice within a set of brand guidelines is truly a balancing act. Those who strike that balance are generously rewarded in the form of engagement and readership.
2. Leverage the art of storytelling to make an impact on your readers
Think about the most engaging people you know. What do they have in common? Personally, I gravitate toward individuals who have mastered the art of storytelling. And no, I’m not talking, “The Three Little Pigs.” I mean people who use stories to engage with others, make them laugh, or to illustrate a point across.
Though brand storytelling is a relatively common practice within the B2C realm, many B2B organizations have struggled to find a place for the tactic within their content marketing strategy. And, we get it. How can you tell a story within a technical product description, a datasheet, or an eBook? It’s tough—but not impossible.
B2B copywriters who find ways to incorporate storytelling make a lasting impact on their readership. Unlike more traditional content marketing tactics, which are designed to appeal to a buyer’s intellect, storytelling evokes emotion. In fact, according to one recent study, the more ‘feel good’ components your story contains, the more oxytocin is released in the reader’s brain. High levels of oxytocin improve the likelihood that a reader will make a purchase—the ultimate goal of most B2B content.
If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these suggestions:
Metaphors: Use a simple but relatable metaphor to compare a common business scenario to something a reader would encounter in their personal life. This takes the reader out of their office and makes your content more human.
Case Studies: Tell the story of your customer. Nothing is more persuasive to a B2B buyer than seeing a similar company with similar problems achieve success.
Talk about the future: Paint a picture of the reader’s future where they become the hero. People want to imagine themselves saving the day or doing something valiant.
Just as stories play on emotion, data plays on logic. Although emotion is enough to draw a buyer in, B2B content creators must support their stories with data. The key takeaway here is this: B2B storytelling works, but not without data. Incorporating both into your B2B content helps you create more compelling and engaging work.
3. Leverage personalization to write to an audience of one
In our crowded content landscape, personalized marketing has quickly become the gold standard. Here’s why: B2B buyers are bombarded with content, and as a result, they’re more likely to spend their time with content that’s been personalized to their particular needs and pain points.
Technology also plays a role in marketing personalization. The latest and greatest additions to the universal marketing technology stack allow you to hone in on individual buyers based on everything from demographic information to behavioral data.
For B2C copywriters, this is nothing new. The B2C buying cycle is really geared toward one, individual buyer. The B2B buying cycle is a little more complicated. Because B2B products tend to be expensive, they require not just one buyer, but an entire committee of decision makers. As a result, B2B copywriters often address larger audiences.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this methodology, you will garner better engagement if you can find ways to target and market to the specific individuals within that B2B buying committee.
To do this, you must consider where each member of the buyer’s committee prefers to consume content (i.e. on your blog, specific social media platforms, email) and also, the formats and topic they’re most interested in seeing (blog posts, eBooks, guides, or webinars).
4. Don’t limit your channel selection
Traditionally, B2B marketing departments feel they have limited avenues through which they can share their content. But that’s not always the case. Remember, even though you’re writing to a business audience, you must target the humans who work for that business—and these people appreciate all kinds of content in all different forms.
Think like a B2C marketing department. B2C businesses leverage a variety of channels to distribute content—up and coming social media platforms, text message marketing, QR code marketing, creative direct mail campaigns—and B2B businesses can too. It’s all about testing your options and seeing what works for your particular product selection.
5. Consider the length of your work
There are significant differences between the B2C and B2B buyer’s journeys—and most of these differences stem from price point, need, and buying motivation. Most B2C purchases are less expensive and as a result carry much less risk to the buyer. B2B purchases on the other hand tend to be more expensive and impact an entire company.
For this reason, most B2B copy tends to be longer and more educational than B2C marketing copy. It often contains technical and industry-related terminology and is intended to provide context and value to the reader in an effort to influence their buying decisions.
Yet, in some cases, B2B copywriters should consider experimenting with shorter-form content. Although many B2B buyers want and need to be educated on certain products, they still value clear and concise copy. But it’s worth pointing out, that valuable longer copy seems to have a higher conversion rate.
On the surface, B2B and B2C copywriting seem vastly different. But the truth is, both B2C and B2B writers have the same goal—to connect with another human and influence them in one way or another.
While techniques and styles may vary from person to person, we live in an era of content overload. Both the individual and the corporate writer are looking for new ways to connect with their audience. So we say, don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new—whether or not it’s common practice in your respective industry. You never know, you might stumble into something wonderful!