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The 5 most common B2B writing mistakes

Lorrie Hartshorn

Manchester Copywriter - B2B, manufacturing, trade & industrial

PRO

B2B writing is a funny old thing.

And by funny, I mean awful.

It’s genuinely awful, most of the goddamned time.

While B2C brands and writers flap their creative tail-feathers in everyone’s faces, like sexy little birds of paradise, B2B is the pigeon that shits on your car.

So here are the 5 most common B2B writing mistakes, along with some tips on how to not make them.

Cos I’m nice like that.

1. Giving it all “Me, me, me Me”

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If there’s one thing I consistently notice about B2B writing, it’s how self-centred it is.

Sure, B2B content doesn’t focus on the promise in the same way B2C content does.

But God, are you actually interested in your customers at all?

“Founded in 1983, we’re a family company whose values and mission and blah blah blah…”

You might think you’re talking to the customer when you focus on who you are and what you do well, but you’re not.

Reframe your B2B writing and put the customer right in the centre of it.

“Helping you solve X problem since 1983.”

Easy.

2. Cramming in complex information

A sunset behind some electricity pylons.

This is a trap my fancy-pants manufacturing clients fall into all the time.

They do some really clever shit, and they’re always working out ways to do cleverer shit than their competitors.

So they want to talk about it ALL THE TIME.

In every piece of content.

Everywhere.

Listen, B2B brands are usually high on the nerd-scale. I get that. I like it. Live long and prosper, guys.

But sometimes, it’s OK not to include everything you know in every single piece of content you publish.

Chill your boots.

3. Being boring AF

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Complex topics don’t need to be as dry as…well, your rude analogy of choice.

You can talk about something complex without nailing someone’s brain to the wall.

Shorter sentences.

Humour.

Relatability.

Personality.

Avoiding words like, “innovate”, “optimise”, “ground-breaking” and “solutions”

Do something a bit different, yeah?

Don’t use B2B writing as an excuse to be boring.

4. Not bothering with the visual

Reflections of tail lights on a wet road.

The best way to keep folks reading your content (aside from being a fabulous writer) is to break up your text.

People don’t have great attention spans anymore (LOOK! A SQUIRREL!), so shit like:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Eye-catching images
  • Regular sub-headings
  • Visual data (charts, graphs etc.)
  • Bullet points

…will help keep those eyes moving down the page to where your call to action should be. B2B writing is notorious for presenting readers with a fucking gigantic swathe of text.

It’s the reason a lot of stuff doesn’t get read.

Make people’s lives as easy and interesting as possible.

5. Focusing on the how not the why

Close up of a ceiling light.

A lot of the B2B copy I read is about brands with really complicated shit happening in-house.

Operations, processes, supply chains, logistics…

There’s so much that goes into delivering one product or service, and I get that brands want to shout about that.

I’ve seen the project management offices of enough industrial brands to know that that shit is pure wizardry. It’s amazing.

But mostly, the customer doesn’t care.

Sucks, right?

But they don’t. Customers aren’t interested in how you do something. They’re interested in why you do it that way.

Is it more cost-effective?

Will it solve their logistics headache?

Will it future-proof their currently dodgy as hell supply chain?

That’s the shit you need to focus on.

The short version

B2B writing shouldn’t mean crap writing.

Business to business based brands have got away with shit content for years – decades, even – but it’s not going to wash much longer.

B2B consumers want good content. Check out Demand Gen’s 2018 B2B content preferences report if you want stats and stuff.

Avoiding these 5 mistakes may not make you a shit-hot B2B content writer, but it’ll make you less shit.

No bad thing, right?

First published on lorriehartshorn.com

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