I read a piece of B2B content yesterday. Well I tried to read it.
The content writer was obviously well-educated and had tried to be clever in how they presented key points but instead had made the piece inaccessible.
It was already a technical topic but was peppered with historical references to illustrate what they were trying to say.
References that didn’t mean anything to me and had to look up.
I was so busy trying to work out the historical references I ended up not really understanding the points the content writer was trying to make.
The thing is, if your audience finds your B2B content difficult to read and understand, there is a good chance they will probably throw in the towel rather than persevere.
Or if they don’t get a particular refererence, they may misunderstand your point.
Using unfamiliar references can also alienate your audience, which is the opposite of what you want.
Your copy may even give a whiff of showing off or sound slightly smug and knowing.
Encourage reader engagement
None of which is particularly good for encouraging reader engagement.
If your target audience is engineers with a love of medieval literature, then fine, reference The Wife of Bath (Chaucer) in a piece about designing steel supports for large glass feature windows.
But if the majority of your audience don’t have a penchant for old English fiction, then it’s probably best to leave Chaucer on the bookshelf.
You could explain the reference if it’s easy to do so, but only if it doesn’t hugely detract from the flow of the piece.
Particularly with very technical content, you want to aim for clear and as easy to read as possible.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with adding a bit of colour to your B2B content writing. It can make it more engaging, accessible and interesting to read.
You can use things like analogies, similes and metaphors to illustrate a point in the reader’s eye more clearly. But make sure they are common references that are easily understood by the majority of your audience.
Make B2B content fresh
Popular cultural references can work really well and make your B2B content fresh and relatable. But here, too, you should be cautious.
A piece of research by King’s College looked into some of the ‘common’ terms and phrases used regularly in press articles.
Phrases like ‘cancel culture’ and terms like ‘woke’ and ‘microaggression’.
King’s College’s research found that many of these terms weren’t as widely known or understood as their use would imply.
The key to clever writing is using widely recognised references and analogies that make a particular point easier to understand as well as more engaging.
Do you use popular references in your B2B content?
For more B2B content writing and content marketing tips, check out my recent blog posts:
- Grappling with personal brand: My voyage of discovery
- Should you use LinkedIn Live as part of a comms strategy?
- Lessons learned from publishing 102 blog posts
- The diary of a B2B journalist at a trade show
- B2B comms: How to get value out of trade shows