What is B2B Writing?
Often when we think about freelance writing we tend to only think about writing for the end consumer. There’s a huge market out there for B2B writing (business to business) though that can be extremely rewarding and very lucrative. So what is B2B writing and what are some of the benefits?
B2B writing is when you produce content for your client that is going to be read by a business, or someone reading on behalf of a business. It might not be as prevalent in freelance writing, but there is a massive market for B2B Writing, and many of the biggest brands in the world hire freelance writers to produce their content.
As with B2C writing (business to consumer), there are lots of different forms of B2B writing in lots of different industries. This means that no matter what your niche is, there’s going to be plenty of work out there for you in B2B writing and there are some big upsides!
Why B2B Writing?
So you’ve been doing B2C writing your whole career, why should you suddenly switch to B2B writing?
One of the big reasons for making the switch is money. Working in B2B you have the potential to double your fee versus what you earn in B2C. Besides this, you can often find yourself working for some really big brands, which is great when you’re looking to market yourself.
Of course, B2B writing offers its own challenges and you might have to adapt your writing style a little bit, but really, it’s much the same thing. Of course, there are plenty of mistakes you should be sure not to make when you’re entering into B2B writing though, so we’ve put together our list of things to remember when starting your freelance B2B writing.
1. Businesses Are Humans Too
You might be selling your client’s services to a business, but the person at the other end of the computer is a human being. Even when they’re at work, humans like to be entertained, and they certainly don’t enjoy reading overly technical writing.
If you’re writing about something technical, which you might well be in B2B writing, it’s tempting to get carried away with technical language and endless acronyms. The person reading your work may or may not have great technical knowledge, but it’s fairly certain that they’re going to prefer reading something that is written in plain English.
In Everything That’s Wrong With Your Web Copy – And How To Fix It, John Kerrison advises “technical talk is all well and good, but it needs to be saved for when you’ve already generated interest.”
No matter how technical the subject your writing about is, there’s always a way to write it so that everyone can understand it and easily read it. You can assume that your readers all have high-level technical knowledge, but you’ll find that you’re losing a big chunk of your audience at the first hurdle.
It’s quite easy to get carried away with the technical aspects of B2B writing, but in reality, your goal is exactly the same as when your writing for B2C. Keep things light and interesting and you’re sure to see better results than if you just churn out technical speech.
2. Everyone’s Busy
This is another point that is as true in B2C writing as it is B2B writing. Nobody wants to waste their time reading something that’s not going to answer their question. As a consequence, it’s vitally important that you get straight to the point.
People need to be convinced early on in your writing that you’re going to answer the question they’re asking. If you can’t do that early on in your writing then you’re going to have a lot of people who stop reading and look for their answer somewhere else.
When you’re working in B2B writing that means when people leave your page, they’re going to go to your competitor’s page to find what they’re looking for. This makes it vitally important that you hook your reader early on in your writing, and convince them that you’re going to answer their question in a light, easy to read way.
As Michael King says in 6 Ways To Improve Your B2B Copywriting Skills “your first 20-50 words need to surprise your reader, make them smile in agreement, or explain what value they stand to gain out of reading further.”
People’s time is valuable, so show them their time is valuable to you by getting to the point. You might enjoy writing creative fluff, but at the end of the day, it’s answering people’s questions and concerns that’s going to sell your product.
The first 20-50 words of your article are vitally important when it comes to this, so make sure that your first sentences are addressing questions about your keywords. This includes titles, so make sure your titles are laser-focused! There’s still room to be creative, but you’ve got to do it in a way that convinces your reader to read on.
Once you have your reader invested in your content then you can afford to get a little bit more creative and really express your style, but your number one goal at the beginning of your content is to get people to read on.
3. You’re At Work But You’re Writing Doesn’t Have To Be
Just because you’re writing B2B copy doesn’t mean you’re writing all of sudden has to become rigid and joyless. You’ll find that some of the best B2B writing uses an extremely laid back tone that many of us don’t associate with business communication. That’s because the person you’re talking to is a human!
Don’t be afraid to use all your writing skills and use the tone you want to use. Nobody sold anything by simply spouting technical information, it’s the art of your writing that’s going to do that. So, have confidence in your style and treat your reader like any human being you normally come into contact with.
You’re obviously highly knowledgeable about the subject you’re discussing, but the main thing you’re being paid for is your great writing ability. If your client simply wanted technical writing with no frills then they could have got anyone to do it. So use the skills you’re client has hired you for and wow the person at the other end of the computer!
4. Know Your Audience
Like any form of writing, it’s vitally important that you understand your audience when you’re writing B2B. This starts with understanding the business you’re writing for and can take a fair amount of research.
The better you can understand your client’s goals, values, products, and services, the better you can understand your audience. If you don’t get this stage of your research right, then you might well find that you’re writing fails before you even begin.
Once you understand your client’s business, the best thing to do is put yourself in their prospective customer’s shoes. If you were them, what would your most pressing concerns be? What questions would you have? What would you like to know more about?
The more information you can put down on a pad and paper, the more you can tailor your writing to your audience. As Elise Dopson states in her article, 11 B2B Copywriting Tips To Take Your Content From Hero To Zero, “your copy–whether it’s a blog post or complex B2B white paper–should reflect your understanding of your industry, and of your customers’ needs and problems.”
Understanding your audience is important for all forms of writing, but it can be a little harder to do in B2B writing. If you’re going to have success as a freelance B2B writer though, you’re going to have to learn to understand who your audience is.
5. Use Clear Calls To Action
No matter what you’re writing there is a reason for you writing it. It is important that you keep your goals in mind as you’re writing, and make them obvious to the reader. This means using clear calls to action (CTAs).
It’s easy to think that the objective of your writing is painfully obvious as a writer, but the truth is, readers have a mind of their own. If your goal is to get people clicking to a certain page or offer then make it obvious, then come back and make it even more obvious!
You can write the absolute best B2B copy, but if your calls to action are not clear then you won’t achieve the desired results. There’s so much noise on the internet that if you don’t get people following your calls to action while you have them hooked then they can easily become distracted and go elsewhere.
So, once you have your reader’s attention make sure you use it to funnel them in the direction you want them to go. A big part of modern content writing is being able to control where you direct your reader’s attention and if you’re not using clear calls to action then you’re going to find this much more difficult to do.
There are some subtle differences between B2B and B2C writing, but the concept is the same. You need to understand your audience, use your sparkling writing skills to appeal to them, and get them to follow your desired outcome.
It seems like a very simple formula, and it in some ways it is, but it takes a lot of skill to do it well. If you’re a successful B2C writer then you certainly have the skills that are needed to succeed in B2B, but there are some steps you can take to get you started on the front foot.
If you remember these things then you can avoid some of the mistakes many people make when writing for B2B:
- Remember you’re talking to a human.
- Accept that everyone is busy.
- Don’t be afraid to keep your casual tone.
- Understand your audience.
- Use clear calls to action.
At the end of the day, writing is writing, so if you feel confident writing B2C then should be absolutely nothing stopping you writing B2B. You’ll need the same writing skills and the same planning and organizational skills, the rest is down to understand your audience, and wowing them with your great writing ability.