The Ultimate Guide To B2B Copywriting…
B2B copywriting, or business to business copywriting, is the art of creating quality, content marketing materials geared specifically towards other businesses, rather than consumers, to inform and create natural business leads. Businesses make calculated, well-researched decisions unlike the casual consumer who may be prone to impulse buys. For that reason, B2B copy goes much deeper than the surface, working to build trust and relationships that may yield returns over time. B2B copywriting looks at the long game, not the short gain.
This kind of copywriting requires depth without the arrogance that sometimes accompanies expertise. No one likes the know-it-all, but neither do they trust the idiot. It’s a delicate balance to strike, and unless you have that kind of talent in-house, this kind of copywriting is in high demand and very scarce. So how do you find a great B2B copywriter and not fall for an imposter? The best way to identify a fake is to first know exactly what the authentic should look like.
B2B copywriters are the “ninjas” of copywriters – highly sought-after and hard to find. However, 7 distinct traits that will help you identify them.
- They’re cool. Great B2B copywriters have an uncanny ability to communicate with anyone (or any business) about anything in an easy, understandable way. They can speak at every level of expertise and understanding without creating confusion or misunderstanding, but also without sounding so stiff that they put people to sleep. They don’t take themselves too seriously or let industry jargon bog them down, but they still show a firm grasp of the topic. They make the humdrum seem exciting without being over-the-top. All black? Yes, please. As long as you look good wearing it.
- They’re adept. B2B copywriters are life-long learners with an enthusiasm for acquiring new skills. They can mold their writing style to fit any circumstance so long as they have the tools to succeed. And typically, they bring or make their own tools.
- They blend in well. B2B copywriters don’t take themselves too seriously and they aren’t publicly flashy. They understand that it’s not about them and their preferences; it’s about the business, the brand, and the leads. They slip in quietly, make the business look good, and leave.
- They’re highly skilled. B2B copywriting requires a whole set of tools most B2C copywriters don’t need. They either know the industry, or they learn it. They take time to understand what the target audience, or business, may need or want that applies to what your business does. And no matter how technical the topic, B2B copywriters can break it down into easy, digestible pieces without losing the professional polish.
B2B copywriters also recognize that there is a technical side to be considered. Most content marketing, and therefore most copywriters, is created for the internet as that is where the bulk of commerce is done these days. Good B2B copywriters aren’t intimidated by this fact but rather embrace the challenge. They accept and understand the importance of SEO and SERP, and they respond appropriately to the changes Google makes to its algorithm, which now requires more quality content than keywords. They can tailor their writing to the needs of the business and the platform, and they know that the point isn’t their writing; the point is the business’s return on the investment they are making as a result of content marketing.
B2B copywriters also just flat out write well. Their writing is free from grammatical errors and other unnecessary distraction. Furthermore, they write with a finesse that flows naturally for the reader. If you don’t like the way they talk, don’t hire them to write for you.
- They’re precise. B2B copywriters don’t waste time with unnecessary words. They work to communicate only what’s necessary and leave the creativity for the web design.
- They’re human. B2B copywriters know that on the other side of their writing is a person, someone who needs to understand what’s being communicated and be moved enough to feel a connection. B2B copywriters walk people through the steps of the business and create the feeling of holding their hand as they walk it like an old friend on a stroll.
- They’re really hard to find. It can’t be emphasized enough that good B2B copywriters are in high demand for the reasons mentioned above.
Now that you know what a good B2B copywriter looks like, the next step is to find one. Finding a good B2B copywriter can feel like trying to find a unicorn, but they do exist. There are three excellent places to look, but one offers three potential leads for finding a good one.
Some people overlook the most obvious place to find a good B2B copywriter for the building: in their own house. Highly skilled writers could be hiding right in front of you, but they’ve never been offered the opportunity, nor will they necessarily know if there is a need. Ask managers, department heads, and especially secretaries (the good ones know everything) who on the team might have the chops to write for the business. You may turn up empty-handed, but you may find a hidden gem or two.
Finding someone in-house pays dividends in at least two ways: first, this allows someone to flex muscles and show off a new skill set. This kind of culture-building will pay off, encouraging others to bring their whole skill set to the table, not just the skills required for their specific role. Second, this potentially saves you time and money. Instead of having to outsource your search, you insource your solutions
If at first you don’t succeed, look in-house again.
Perhaps you don’t find the exact fit for the situation, but maybe there are some already on your staff who only need a little bit of training or coaching to be the fit you need for the moment. Don’t be afraid to invest in the training that might be required to get this person up to speed. This will be an investment for the long-haul, not just the immediate need.
Third time is a charm.
Maybe it’s time to hire someone with the skills to generate the content you need. Content marketing, and the skills necessary for developing it, has a long shelf life. Hiring someone who will become familiar with the business, brand, and culture will pay dividends for years to come. The time spent on-boarding a new staff member will be time well spent for the future.
Copywriting agencies for the win!
Hands down, if you don’t find someone already on your team, and you aren’t going to hire someone to join it, working with a copywriting agency will save you time and sanity. Additionally, if you need the copywriting now and can’t wait to train or hire someone to fill that gap – copywriting agencies should be the first place you look.
Copywriting agencies do the screening for you, weeding out the “wanna-be’s” from the professionals. The ones worth their salt (and your investment) use sophisticated software to identify best fits for your company. Most have already developed a large pool of writers eager to jump at new opportunities with processes already in place for content creation and editing. Furthermore, their writers typically span a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences making their contributions even more valuable to you.
Freelancers in the wild.
In some ways, screening freelancers may be the most unwieldy place to look for copywriters because unless you know the person, or your mom knows the person, it could be hard to verify their bona fides. It poses more risks, but if this is the route you choose, it’s worthwhile to consider a few things
Exceptional freelance copywriters likely choose their projects and set their own rates. They typically take jobs on a referral basis making word of mouth the most reliable job pipeline to find them. Ask friends, relatives, and colleagues who they know, and you might find someone truly great. In these cases, you typically get what you pay for meaning the work will be high quality with a price to match it. If they’re not interested, be sure to ask who they might recommend. They may be able to refer you to someone else who is more established, or they may refer you to an up-and-comer such as the next kind of freelancer.
You may be fortunate to find a new-to-the-business freelancer looking to build their portfolio. These are perhaps harder to find, but they’re out there, and you’ll likely find their prices more reasonable as they’re still working to build their businesses. These copywriters can be some of the best to work with because they’ll be eager to learn and build a lasting relationship with you, and they will grow with you.
Then there are the freelancers that make other freelancers look bad. Some will be easy to spot, and others less so. If you see any errors in any of their communication with you, likely, they aren’t a good fit. Good freelance copywriters care about all communications, not just content delivery. Even if it just feels a little off, it’s best to keep looking. If you don’t know what good content should read or look like, ask someone who does!
Relationship rules for B2B copywriters.
Now that you’ve identified and located a great B2B copywriter, it’s important to make the relationship work well for both of you. Because the whole point of the relationship is to develop excellent content marketing material, it’s important to lay out the ground rules. What exactly are the expectations? What’s the process for editing and delivery? And how do you want to communicate?
Great copywriting requires fluid communication between the owner of the content and the writer. Especially if you’ve never worked with this copywriter, be prepared to re-work the content until you’re satisfied, asking for edits and clarifications as needed from the copywriter. They want to get it right just as much as you do, so be clear and forthcoming with your requests.
For tracking purposes, it’s helpful to have an editing process that’s clearly defined and easily accessible. You need to be able to easily spot and identify changes, and they need to know where to start when making them. A little research goes a long way in finding these tools, but copywriting agencies will already have this figured out.
Depending on your needs, it may be helpful to have multiple conversations with your copywriter so that they can get a feel for your brand, style, and voice. If your business already has established brand and style guidelines, it’s crucial to provide this to your copywriter upfront. It keeps them from guessing and ensures that the content they develop will be streamlined with existing content.
Final thoughts on B2B copywriting
It’s okay to keep looking until you find the right fit. While it may be inconvenient to have to start over in a search, don’t settle for less than what your business deserves. Good copywriters will want the fit to be right as well, and they should know if they’re out of their depth. That being said, don’t give up too soon. Sometimes it takes a little bit before the writing relationship begins to click. As with any other important relationship, it may require some nurturing to make it thrive.
Quality content doesn’t just matter to Google, it matters to the businesses you want to do business with. The quality of writing should match the quality of your business, and it should do so in a way that excites and inspires. If you can’t get through it without a scoff or a snooze, no one else will. Keep your content standards high, and you’ll attract businesses with the same high standards.
Content marketing isn’t just an output; it’s a journey to project the best version of your business. It can be long, so choose your copywriters carefully..