B2B Copywriting – No, It Isn’t That Different’

by John McIntyre

Okay, copywriters. Tell me if you’ve heard this one…

“No, no, no… You’re being WAY too familiar in this sales letter/email series/VSL/advertisement. This is a COMPANY. We’re a corporation. We’re selling to OTHER corporations. We can’t be speaking to people in such familiar terms.”

I’ll be honest with you.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves.

In the world of sales we often talk about B2B (Business to Business), B2C (Business to Customer) or even B2K (a boy band that was popular from 1998 to 2004).

And it’s fine that we differentiate the types of sales we’re doing.

After all, it takes a much different approach with a much longer sales cycle with many more decision makers to sell a $150,000 software implementation to a massive corporation than it does to sell a $2,500 vacation package to a housewife.

Selling a fleet of cars to a company is different than selling one car to a teenager.

So, yes, B2B is different than B2C.

In recognizing that sales cycles are different between B2B and B2C, however, many marketers, salespeople, and copywriters make a fundamental mistake…

They forget that whether it’s B2B sales or B2C sales, that it’s STILL H2H.

Human to Human.

You’ll find all these B2B copywriters trying to ‘smarten up’ their copy when they’re writing in attempts to sell something to a company.

And while certain slang may be less appropriate in a B2B setting, what ISN’T less appropriate is treating your prospect as a human.

If you’re trying to sell to a business you don’t have to start acting like a corporate drone. You don’t have to get bland, get rid of your stories, and change your personality. Humor still works. Personality is still desired. Warmth is still a fantastic attribute.

In fact, in B2B sales, prospects are so tired of corporate speak that’s full of ridiculous jargon and no substance that entering the space with conversational, personal, and persuasive writing will make you stand out.

Plus, it’ll make you win.

So forget the straight laced, soulless, brainless, heartless copy.

Instead, stick to persuasion techniques that are known to work whether you’re selling to a HUMAN that is a consumer, or a HUMAN that works for a business.

These principles tend to be ignored when selling to other businesses, but you do so at your own peril. The great Robert Cialdini laid out 6 principles of persuasion. These are great for your B2B copywriting efforts:

  • Scarcity. What can you do in your copywriting to communicate that your offer will not be available forever, will run out, will have a closing date? This works in B2B just as well as in B2C. Scarcity will drive a company to act just as quickly as it will a consumer.
  • Testimonials. Do you think that consumers are the only ones who want to see that your solution works? Of course not. B2B customers may sometimes even be MORE inclined to want testimonials and other social proof because if they get the purchase wrong they could get fired or disciplined by multiple bosses. Especially helpful in this respect are testmonials and other social proof from similar businesses dealing with similar challenges. You want your prospect to ‘see themselves’ in your copy.
  • Reciprocity. Humans like to return a good gesture. How can you do that in B2B copywriting? You could teach a principle or offer a bonus amongst other things. If your prospect feels like they ‘owe you’ somehow through your copy you’ll capture more interested buyers.
  • Authority. Again, this may be even more important in B2B copywriting. The purchaser is buying on behalf of a big organization with a lot of accountability. They NEED to know that you have authority, expertise, that you know what you’re talking about. The last thing that person wants to have happen is they look like a fool for bringing in a subpar solution to the organization.
  • Liking. People want to buy from those they like. Your copy must make you, your service, your product likable. This is where it pays to speak TO the prospect rather than simply speaking about you or your solution. This is where a certain familiarity, first person authorship, storytelling, etc. can help your copy be a winner.
  • Commitment and Consistency. This principle of persuasion has to do with people’s desire to stick with a decision they’ve made. People don’t want to feel stupid or silly in waffling or changing their mind.

In your copy you want to get them to agree with you on even small things, reward them for investing in you, encourage them to publicly commit to your offering. Get them feeling like they’re intelligent for sticking with a decision.

The best copy uses some or all of these principles of persuasion. It treats the recipient as a human, not a faceless company. No one wants to read copy that was written for a company, they want to read something written for them.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for B2B or B2C, at the end of the day you’re only writing to humans. And humans make choices for basically the same reasons whether it’s for their benefit or the benefit of their company. Tap into those reasons in your copy rather than worrying about sounding smart because you can use corporate-speak.

This is a guest post by Ty Brown. Ty tripled his business in two and a half years using stories and persuasive copywriting. Now he speaks, writes,  coaches, and consults with other businesses on how to do the same. Ty is also the owner of Ty the Dog Guy, a Salt Lake City dog training company Find him at Ty the Speaker.

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