Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

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10 B2B Copywriting Tips for Word Nerds

writer-using-typewriter

Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

I’m not ashamed to say that Don Draper inspired me to become a copywriter. Well, he was part of the reason at least.

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Even though ol’ Donny didn’t always have the soundest moral compass, I thought his job was so badass. He would stroll into a meeting after his morning bourbon, completely unprepared, and spit brilliant copy to the multi-millionaire client.

Then I became a copywriter and realized it wasn’t that glamorous or effortless. (And that bourbon is kinda gross.)

I’ve had to try and fail and try again. I’ve also had to seek out the advice of experts. Full disclosure: I still have *a ton* of learning to do. But, I thought it’d be worth the time to share some of the top B2B copywriting knowledge I’ve compiled thus far.

So, what are the best B2B copywriting tips? The 10 best B2B copywriting tips from a real copywriter:

  1. Focus on making someone’s life easier.
  2. Love the hunt.
  3. Always take the shortcut.
  4. Look at your product/service through your buyers’ eyes.
  5. Ask your customers questions.
  6. Speak human.
  7. Use humor.
  8. Use social proof.
  9. Write to one person.
  10.  Know you don’t know it all.

That’s the quick ‘n’ dirty. ^^^ 

Here’s the slow and… clean?

1. Make someone’s life easier

Wanna know a secret?

No one really cares about your product… or its features. 

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Identify what people care about

People care about themselves and their families and paying bills on time. They care about getting through each day with as little friction as possible: seeing only two cars in the Starbucks drive-thru, finding a good parking spot, getting off work in time to pick their kid up.

No one’s just sitting around *wishing* for another targeted ad or LinkedIn message that lists the features they’re supposed to give a rip about.

That actually makes some people pretty enraged. Out-of-touch marketers? Next.

Now that we’ve got the tough love out of the way, we can get to the stuff that really matters:

making people’s lives easier!

Your ideal buyer’s mindset

You might be sick of hearing this word tied in with B2B marketing, but empathy is a big part of writing great copy. You’ve got to get into the mindset of your ideal buyer. What are they struggling with? What problems are they experiencing?

A helpful technique for writing empathetic copy:

  1. Find out what obstacles your customers are facing in their lives, whether it be professional or personal. (You can do this by asking the right questions, which we’ll get into in a sec.)
  2. Whittle that list of obstacles down to problems your company could address.
  3. For each of those problems, write a relevant question along with a resolution to that question. Example: Spending too much time at work? You deserve smarter automation.
  4. Narrow your list down to those that really hit home on emotion, solving a real problem, and your targeted stage of the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, decision).
  5. Add a compelling call to action to each question/answer set. Example: Reclaim 2 hrs/day
  6. Test out the best copy sets to see what resonates with your ideal buyer.

This is an example of the technique that’s worked for me. As you dive deeper into the B2B world, you’ll learn more about the material that’s most effective for your target audience.

2. Learn to love the process

If you’re like me and romanticize creative pursuits like writing (aka, idolize Don Draper), you’re in for a surprise.

There’s a lot of process

You probably have always had a knack for words. Maybe English was your favorite subject in school. 

The thing about copywriting for B2B, though, is it’s mostly process. There’s inspiration at the beginning, a snappy product at the end, but those are just the buns around a big, juicy process.

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The hunt

You see, the words shouldn’t be your biggest concern. The emotions your words elicit should be the main focus. 

I like to think about the words as a path the writer takes to arrive at an emotion. Some paths get you there. Some don’t. To be a successful B2B copywriter, you have to appreciate the hunt for the right path

Because, to be honest, hunting for the right path is what your job is mostly about.

3. Always take the shortcut

Brevity is your friend.

If there is a shorter path to get your point across, take it. B2B pros don’t have time to read your 3-paragraph LinkedIn message. Make it 3 sentences or less.

People will actually start to care about what you’re saying when they know you value their time. They may even look forward to you saying something else. 😲

Take Mira’s ad for example:

mira-B2B-ad-copy-example

The copy in the image and the caption is clear and to the point. Plus, it caught my attention in this very long list of B2B ad examples.

4. Look through your buyers’ eyes

We are living in the age of information. However, you can’t expect your ideal buyers to know all the things about your product/service that you do.

Buyers don’t have the same access as you

You likely have access to the developers, engineers, and other product specialists. As a copywriter, it’s almost a hindrance to have so much expertise at your disposal.

In other words, you might know something about your product that you think would be good to include in your ad copy. But your ideal buyer doesn’t know about the thing and — frankly — doesn’t know why they should care.

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For whichever stage of the buyer’s journey you’re writing, get yourself in the mindset of the reader. (There’s that empathy stuff again!)

[RELATED: Check out PPC for SaaS Companies: Everything You Need to Know]

Writing for the buyer’s journey

Say you’re a B2B SaaS company writing a PPC ad for each stage of the buyer’s journey. It should look a little something like this:

Awareness – Your audience isn’t very familiar with your brand, if at all. Be educational and helpful in this stage. They might not even know they have a problem, so you’ve got to let them know.

Example: Could you be closing deals faster? Watch this 2-minute video to find out.

Consideration – The audience in the consideration stage has zeroed-in on the problem and is searching for the best solution. They are researching and trying to get a full understanding of their options.

Example: You’re no Average Joe. So why settle for an average CRM? Level up before they do.

Decision – At this point, your audience has a list of options they’re whittling down to their final choice. When it comes to SaaS, many of these products likely have similar features. Therefore, you won’t gain any edge listing out features in your ad copy.

Example: You have standards for how you treat customers. So do we. Get the service you deserve.

No features mentioned. No overly sales-y language. Brief and to the point.

When you’re looking through your buyers’ eyes, you can more clearly see the state-of-mind they’re in. Maybe your product/service does have a unique feature. You still need to help people care about the ‘why’ before they’re ever going to care about a feature.

5. Ask your customers (the right) questions

Perhaps the best B2B copy resource is your customers! Crazy, right?

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Ask about customer journeys

Here’s another revolutionary idea: Sit down with one of your customers over (virtual) coffee and ask them about their experience with your company.

  • How did they first find you?
  • What challenges were they encountering before finding your solution?
  • What was involved in the decision-making process for them?
  • What stuck out to them about your company?
  • Why have they chosen to stay with your company?
  • If they were to refer you to a friend, what would they say about your company?

By asking these types of questions, you should get a good idea of what your copy should say, the audience it should be in front of, and which channel to deploy it on.

Align the answers w/ the journey stage

Once you get the answers from your customers, align them with the buyer’s journey stage that makes the most sense.

For instance:

Q: How did you first find our company?

A: I was searching for info about the best B2B marketing channels on Google and found a blog post you published.

Buyer’s journey stage: Awareness

Channel: Organic SEO

Now you know the kind of copy that’s successful in your buyers’ awareness stage. You could write an ad or LinkedIn status that says… 

Think you’ve exhausted all the possible B2B marketing channels? Think again.

Then, either direct them to the blog post or list some of your main points (if you’re writing a LinkedIn status). Take Logan’s LinkedIn update for example:

6. Speak human, bro

You’re a human (probably) talking to other humans. Don’t get caught up in sounding like you have a Ph.D. in obscure words. You just sound like an asshole.

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No one is above straight-forward, thoughtful, human-speak. If they act like they are, you probably don’t want to do business with them anyways.

7. Use humor when you can

People love to laugh. Directors, reps, creatives, CEOs, VPs, beet farmers — everyone.

So, when your message invites humor, take advantage of it.

[RELATED: Check out the 5-part framework for successfully using humor in B2B.]

Funny is powerful

When you make someone feel good or even crack a smile with your content, they remember how you made them feel. Subsequently, it’s easier for them to remember your brand.

Besides, who likes reading dry B2B material? Might as well give it a little *punch.*

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How to humor

To successfully inject humor into your B2B copy, keep these steps top-of-mind:

  1. Determine your medium. Your strategy should differ depending on the platform you’re using. Email funny is different from TikTok funny.
  2. Understand your audience. Copywriting 101: Know your audience. Are they going to find the same things funny as you?
  3. Know your purpose. What’s the message meant to do? Inform, entertain, inspire? It matters.
  4. Develop some ideas. Your first idea probably isn’t a homerun. Come up with a few different ideas and refine from there.
  5. Align humor w/ audience. Whichever idea you choose, double-check to make sure it’s aligned with your audience. Maybe test it out on somebody, too.
  6. Deliver w/ full commitment. If you’re not delivering humor with full commitment, your audience will be confused and a little uncomfortable. Go all in or don’t do it at all.

Funny is hard. But, like with anything, I’ve found you can get better at it by practicing. Also, GIFs help.

8. Use social proof

I don’t think I’ve *ever* bought a product online that didn’t have at least 10 ratings. It just looks sketchy when there are fewer — or zero — ratings/reviews.

Let your reviews do the talking

No matter if it’s B2C or B2B, the psychology is the same. People want to see that you have some credibility under your belt. The best way to do that is to showcase the ratings, reviews, and testimonials customers have left you.

Social proof can look like… 

  • An expert’s endorsement
  • A celebrity endorsement
  • Earned media (good PR)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Social media engagement (shares, likes, comments, etc.)
  • Star ratings
  • Number of downloads
  • Product reviews

How to use social proof in marketing copy

There are lots of places to sneak social proof into your B2B copy.

  • PPC ads
  • Social cover images
  • Blog posts
  • Social media updates
  • Videos
  • Web pages
  • Emails
  • Email signatures

Take this ad copy, for example:

ad-copy-example-social-proof

(Yes, I made this graphic in Microsoft Paint and no, it’s not great. Dat copy doe.)

Obviously, you’ll want a cleaner image than the one I used. But I think this is enough to get my point across about using social proof in marketing copy.

9. Write as if you’re talking to one person

Better yet, write as if you’re speaking to a friend.

Personalization is powerful

Of course, you’re not going to be able to personalize every single bit of copy. However, adding in some friendly, conversational prose can help you appeal to more people.

Nowadays, people expect personalization from brands. Sure, it’s kinda creepy when you think to yourself how much you could go for a pizza right now. Then, you look at Instagram and there’s an ad for Domino’s.

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Nonetheless, it’s irritating when you’re targeted by an ad that offers no value to you.

*No matter how many times you play that annoying Charmin TP ad, Spotify, I’m not going to buy it!*

One problem at a time

What I’m really trying to say is that you can’t address everyone’s problems with one message. And you shouldn’t try to.

Whether it’s an email, a blog, or an ad — write as if you’re talking to one person about their one big problem. Then, adjust that message for your other audience segments. People will appreciate the time you put into figuring out their specific pain points.

10. You don’t know it all

… and neither do I.

Even Don Draper doesn’t have it all figured out. It’s when you recognize that there are always new things to learn about writing that you start to become a better writer.

don-draper-mad-men-enlightened

How to get better

You already have the first step down: Reading another writer’s take on the craft. I hope you compare my advice with your own experiences and take from it what you can.

The #1 way, however, to get better at writing copy is to… 

READ good copy and WRITE every day.

(I know, that’s two things. But they deserve equal attention.)

This isn’t my advice. It’s advice I’ve picked up along the way and am still trying to implement for myself.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

The King said it himself. ^^^

Also, this is the only time you should disregard tip #3.

hOWNe it

As you hone your craft, own the fact that you’re always learning and improving. It’s never enjoyable working with a know-it-all.

So, be the opposite. Never stop being curious. Never stop looking for inspiration. 

Never stop learning. << A Sweet Fish value that worked its way into this section perfectly. 😊

You’ve got this

If you walk away with only one piece of copywriting advice from this post, let it be this:

You’re a human writing to other humans: Be relatable, be curious, be helpful.

Now, time for me to go follow my own advice. I hope you’ve learned something!

For more B2B marketing knowledge nuggets, subscribe to B2B Growth on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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