Confessions of a B2B tech copywriter

Before speaking at B2B InTech, David McGuire of Radix Communications has a few things to get off his chest

When Fiona Campbell-Howes and I take the stage at B2B Marketing’s InTech in February, we’ll be sharing five of the copywriting techniques tech industry unicorns use to make their marketing content stand out. We’ll make it practical and (it says here) fun.

But I’ll want to say more.

Between us, Fiona and I have clocked up thirty-something years’ experience, writing copy for B2B tech marketers. Face to face with a whole roomful, there’ll doubtless be a delicious urge to deliver a truth bomb or two.

So to help me fight that temptation, I’ll share a couple of copywriting confessions with you here instead. (You won’t tell anyone, will you?)

B2B tech brands know about voice and tone (they just forget to use them)

If I had a pound for every blog post I’ve read by a well-meaning generalist copywriter, telling B2B marketers that B2C brands have this wonderful thing called ‘tone of voice’, and how your B2B writing doesn’t have to sound boring and corporate, I’d have… well, enough to buy a pint, certainly.

But in my experience, B2B tech marketers already know. Most brands have full and detailed guides on how to write in their voice. The problem is that most of those guides say exactly the same thing. So a lot of B2B writing ends up sounding very much alike: 100 subtle versions of “positive and friendly, but professional”.

(You might think this is a result of working with agencies who don’t spend all their time writing B2B tech content, so think their client’s voice is unique. I couldn’t possibly comment.)

And when firms stick rigidly to a single tone of voice, instead of letting the tone of their writing flex so it’s always appropriate to the reader’s situation, the effect is multiplied.

Used well, voice and tone can be a powerful differentiator, for the brand and its content assets (spoiler alert: our InTech session might just include examples from tech firms doing exactly this).

But that’s the thing about differentiating yourself: it does take a willingness to be different.

Every time I read the phrase “we are passionate about”, I die a little inside

Let’s be brutally honest: you’re not actually all that passionate about your technology, your service, or your customers’ success, are you? Not really. That’s just something companies say.

And even if you were, passion isn’t something you talk about; it’s something you demonstrate. Like expertise, and honesty, and a sense of humour.

To put it another way: “Don’t tell me you’re funny; tell me a joke”.

Marketing – and content marketing in particular – gives B2B brands ample opportunity to show what they’re all about, in all kinds of ways. To act like an expert. To prove they’re helpful and approachable. To demonstrate how forward-thinking they are… rather than just saying those words about themselves.

Talk is cheap; so cheap, in fact, that some phrases cheapen your whole message. If we’re passionate, let’s show it – in the copy we write, the way we behave, and the content we all create.

At least 92% rant-free, guaranteed

We write B2B tech marketing content all day, every day, so there’s quite a lot we could tell you about making yours stand out from the crowd. And at InTech, we’ll talk about tuning your writing to your audience, nailing your value proposition, and driving your reader to take action – as well as showing, not telling, and the voice examples I hinted at earlier.

Do join us. I promise not to rant about the word ‘passionate’.

At least, not for too long. 

B2B Marketing InTech 2017

The single most influential and inspiring tech event of its kind in the UK: this one-day event includes sessions by leaders, innovators, change-makers and growth hackers from some of the most innovative and admired tech brands on the planet.

Book your place

B2B Marketing InTech technology marketing event 2017