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Revealed: The top 3 B2B copywriting sins

If you want to wow your audience with relevant, sparkly and persuasive copy, there are three things you should never do. 

What are the top three sins in B2B copywriting?

Is it split infinitives, dangling modifiers and over-zealous use of the greengrocer’s apostrophe? No, all of these sins can be readily forgiven if your copy is honest, authentic and written from the heart.

(Would you pass up on a bag of luscious, juicy plums just because they were advertised as “plum’s”? Of course you wouldn’t. Greengrocers should be judged on their produce, not their punctuation.)

Or maybe it’s using over-long words, industry jargon and business buzzwords? Again, these can be perfectly OK – sometimes – if your audience uses the same language, and it’s clear to them what you’re talking about.

But there are three sins you should never, ever commit in your B2B copy – and they go like this:

1) Thou shalt not write without knowing who you’re writing for

‘Know your audience’ is the no. 1 rule of great B2B copy. It means having a clear idea in mind of the kind of person you’re writing for: their role, their day-to-day responsibilities, the words and phrases they use, their work worries and their professional aspirations. It’s the only way to write copy that truly strikes a chord with your audience.

And if you’re trying to write for more than one audience, beware: in trying to cover all bases you may end up alienating all of them. Segment where you can – even if it’s just splitting your copy into clearly-signposted sections: “What this means for fleet managers”, “What this means for company car drivers”, etc.

2) Thou shalt not write without understanding what you’re writing about

If you don’t fully understand your subject matter, you can’t write about it clearly, confidently and persuasively – and clear, confident persuasiveness is the essence of great marketing copy.

If at first you don’t understand, do more research, ask questions, make mental connections and keep digging until you become an expert. Because if your audience suspects you don’t know what you’re on about, they’re never going to give your words a second thought. 

3) Thou shalt not bore people

B2B subject matter is often complicated, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dull. Bring your copy to life with short, snappy words and phrases, anecdotes about relevant things that happened in the real world, similes, metaphors, analogies and visual examples (like the greengrocer one above).

When you use stories and imagery in your copy, you’re showing, rather than telling. And by painting pictures in your reader’s mind, you’ll make your copy a joy to read, rather than a slog.

So to stay out of the B2B copywriting sin bin, know your audience, know your topic and keep your copy lively. And if all else fails, hire a great copywriter to avoid the three sins for you!

I’m writing in the run up to speaking at the B2B Marketing Summit (17 June). If you’re interested in attending the Summit. Sign up