Writing styles, communication and language evolve, but it sometimes feels like B2B content is stuck in the past.
From the questions and comments I get, there are several misconceptions about writing B2B content (and copy).
But here’s the thing: I’ve never found the rule book that sets out what you can and can’t do.
Which is good news for B2B content creators because it means you can make your own rules.
It’s about what works for you and your brand, your tone of voice, how you want to be seen and crucially, getting your message or story across.
But first, you need to let go of the invisible rule book:
Rule 1: You have to use technical language to sound professional.
B2B content is about communicating an idea, a story or message to your existing and target clients, peers, partners and potential collaborators.
And you want to do that in a way that is clear and easy for your audience to understand.
Using technical language risks misunderstanding. It can alienate your audience, or they simply won’t read on.
Just because you understand those words don’t assume your audience does.
Research by King’s College found that words and phrases the media commonly used, such as ‘woke’ and ‘culture wars’ are not as widely understood as their use would suggest.
Writing simply and clearly is not dumbing down; it’s the clever way of getting your story or ideas or messages across to your audience.
Rule 2: You have to use fancy words
A lot of B2B content uses words that you would never use if you were talking to someone. Would you say ‘utilise’ or ‘commence’ in a conversation?
The people you are writing for are no different from the people you speak to, so why use a different vocabulary?
B2B content written using the same language you’d use in conversation sounds more familiar – and human – which means it is easy to read and more engaging.
It can also help you add energy and personality to your writing.
And the bonus is writing using words you would use in conversation is so much easier because it’s more natural.
Myth 3: You can’t start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’
Not starting a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ is something that was taught in school, but you aren’t writing for your teacher anymore.
It’s an outdated rule and isn’t incorrect grammar. Starting a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ is also how we naturally speak.
Writing in a more conversational style will make your content sound more human and is more engaging for the reader.
And, it can also help add emphasis and pace to your writing.
Myth 4: B2B writing can’t have emotion
Businesses are run by and for human beings, and human beings have emotions, so why ignore that?
The only explicit emotion that commonly makes it into B2B writing is ‘delighted’ – so much so, it’s become a cliche and is best avoided.
Ignoring delighted (please do), there is something compelling reading about how something felt or made someone feel.
It can help make your content resonate with your audience.
Bringing just a little bit of emotion to your writing gives it depth and personality, which is certainly going to make it stand out from a lot of B2B writing.
And it doesn’t have to be explicit; you don’t have to wear your heart on a sleeve, it can simply be a particular word choice.
Evoking an emotion, however subtle, in your audience is also a powerful content marketing tool.
It’s what copywriters know how to do, to get results (sales, sign ups etc).
Is there a B2B content writing ‘rule’ you think should be ripped up?
Want to read more? Here are some recent posts:
- Is social media a waste of time for B2B business?
- How to make industry awards worth entering, without actually winning
- Personality in B2B content and why its good
- B2B content writing that stops the scroll: The art of the unexpected
- Grappling with personal brand: My voyage of discovery