3 ways to turn a conversation into B2B content

If you write B2B content for your business, there’s a strong chance you’ll have to create blog posts and articles based on conversations you’ve had with colleagues/clients.

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There are different ways to approach it depending on how you want to use the conversation and get the information across. For example, how much of the ‘interviewees’ voice do you want in your piece of B2B content?

Here are three different styles of write up to consider with pros and cons:

1. Simple Q&A

This can be the easiest way of getting across someone’s thoughts and ideas on a topic.

Writing up can be easy, too, particularly if you carefully plan your questions.

If you can, order your questions so that there is logical flow to them.

This means, when you come to write up your Q&A, you’ve already got a structure, so it’s just a case of trimming and editing the answers into coherent (and concise) written English.

If it’s been a more organic conversation, it can make it more tricky to pin down specific questions and answers. And you’ll have to work out a logical structure.

Q&A style interviews, because of their structure, means it’s harder to give context and background or set the scene (planning your questions can help).

But while you can rewrite your question to introduce a particular point, you don’t want them to be long and rambling.

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Four ‘rules’ about B2B content writing you can ignore

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).

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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?

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Why B2B thought leadership content is worth the effort

Whether you call it thought leadership, opinion, comment or insight, if you are a B2B business, there is huge value in taking the time to write and publish articles.

First and foremost, it’s a great way to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise, understanding of the market and wider issues.

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It can demonstrate your understanding of your clients’ needs, what challenges they face and the pain points.

And thought-leader articles could help to reinforce your company’s brand values and help develop trust and authority.

As part of a content marketing strategy – and regular publishing – writing thought leader content can help build an audience and relationships with new clients, particularly if you allow comments.

Getting a bit more technical, it’s good for SEO. Google checks your website regularly for fresh content, and it is also looking for dwell – time spent on site. Alongside a good keyword strategy, it can help to drive traffic to your website.

Extra value

The time spent writing B2B thought leadership content carries extra dividends.

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Panel events: Are you creating an echo chamber of views?

Many years ago, I chaired a roundtable on the future of business parks.

A business park developer, an agent who leased business park space, an architect who designed business parks, and a business park tenant took part in the discussion.

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There was lots of excited conversation about what the business park of the future would look like, what facilities it would have and how it would be used.

The occupier wasn’t joining in, so I asked what they thought of the suggestions. What they said stopped everyone in their tracks.

Why?

The tenant – the business that may or may not lease space in the future – didn’t want most of what was suggested.

Instead, they reeled off a list of what they did want from a business park.

I used to regularly chair panel discussions for the magazine I worked for.

Curve ball panellist

They were great generators of content and brand awareness but what made them really fly was when there was a ‘curve ball’ panellist.

There would be a range of people on the panel representing different sides of property development. However, the best discussions were when there was someone whose experience was different from the rest of the panellists.

An outsider.

One example was a discussion about economic growth in a particular region. Four out of five of the panellists were from the area and one was not.

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The benefits of putting personality into B2B content

‘I don’t think sounding authentically you is the exclusive preserve of social media.

When I’m writing and commenting on social media, Grammarly grumbles at my word choice. Or rather, it points out that I overuse words such as ‘great’, ‘brilliant’, ‘really’ and ‘excellent’.

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But when I am writing as myself, rather than for a client, those words are me. They are words I say—a lot.

I see social media as a conversational platform. It’s not a report or a brochure; it’s me talking to my connections, so I use the same words I’d use in a conversation.

They reflect who I am. Why hide my personality?

But I don’t think sounding authentically you is the exclusive preserve of social media.

Think of it another way. If you go to a networking event, how do you talk to people?

Do you talk in a manner that makes you sound like a PowerPoint presentation? I doubt it.

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