The myth of ‘sounding professional’ in B2B writing

“I struggle to sound professional when I’m writing for work.”

It’s not an unusual comment from people who aren’t in communications but might have to write stories for internal newsletters, intranet or even external stories.

So how do you sound professional when writing for work? I would counter that question with: What does professional B2B writing look and sound like?

Close up of a man in a business suit straightening his tie. Representative of the false image of a professional 'look'.
Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman on Unsplash

There is a common misconception that sounding ‘professional’ in B2B writing means using a different language to what you would use in a normal conversation.

That sounding professional means using long, fancy words, jargon and ‘corporate speak’.

And following certain rules that were drilled in when studying English at school, such as starting a sentence with ‘and’ as I’ve just done.

But that’s like saying that you aren’t professional unless you wear a suit and work in an office.

It’s stuff and nonsense. Being professional is about being skilled at what you do first and foremost.

The key purpose of B2B writing

And, just as labelling a certain way of dressing as professional misses the point, so does the idea that you have to write in a certain way.

Yes, correct English and spelling are a good idea, but using words and phrases you wouldn’t use when talking to people ignores the key purpose of B2B writing: To communicate.

If you want to communicate a piece of news, pass on information or get people to do something, you need to write in a way that is clear, concise and engages your audience.

And the easiest way to do that is to use familiar words and phrases – the language you would use in conversation.

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Twitter can teach you better B2B content engagement

First, it was text messages that had a limited number of characters, then Twitter arrived, and we had to hone our skills at writing succinctly while grabbing attention.

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

And yet when we are writing B2B content for platforms where there aren’t restrictions we seem to forget we need to work just as hard to get people interested.

Just because you have more space to fill with words doesn’t mean readers have more time to read.

Most B2B content is consumed in a digital format rather than print now. We scroll headlines, and social media feeds to find interesting content, often making snap decisions about whether to engage – click through – and read based on just a few words.

The discipline of writing succinctly for a Tweet – although more characters are allowed now – is a good one. It teaches you to get to the point in an engaging way.

In just a sentence or two, you need to say something interesting or intriguing or useful. Or you want to make them feel something or react.

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Video: Is now the right time to publish B2B content?

With the world in the midst of the coronavirus crisis which is having a fundamental impact on personal liberty and how businesses operate it might not seem like the right time to be publishing B2B content.

In this video, I talk about about the challenge and why writing and creating B2B content is a good idea.

➡️ Same rules of quality and appropriateness content apply.

➡️ Important to be visible.

➡️ Huge appetite for information, analysis and shared experience.

➡️ Comment and engage if you are still concerned but want to stay visible.

Why you should park the ego when writing B2B content

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

B2B content writing is an exercise in parking the ego.

There’s a lot of talk about content that adds value but in order to add value, you need to focus on your target audience and what is valuable and interesting to them.

It’s not about putting yourself and business first but putting your audience – and the point of interest – first.

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