People in business: How to add personality to B2B content

“We want our content to have a bit more personality” is something I often hear from clients, but when they see copy that reflects the individual, it can make them nervous.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

It reads as more conversational and less formal than the traditional B2B content you normally see.

The built environment sector I work in is frequently described as a people industry, yet you wouldn’t guess that from the content that is regularly published.

A lot of it sounds quite similar, as if following a particular rule book about how you write to sound professional and authoritative.

To reflect personality in your business content, that rule book needs to be ripped up. It will read a little differently, but it can help your target audience get to know you and the people in your business. It can make you more relatable and approachable.

And content that is a bit different is good in the noisy world of the internet and social media.

You don’t have to completely change how you write or sound like an Innocent smoothie advert. There are small, subtle ways to add a sprinkle of personality to your B2B content that will make a difference.

Whether you are writing your own content or writing it for someone in your business, here are four ways of adding personality:

1. Particular word choice

Start with choosing words and phrases you would use in a real conversation with a friend, family member or peer. If you would naturally say you were ‘chuffed’ or ‘over the moon’, write that.

If you are writing a piece for someone in your business, listen carefully to the words they use. I like to record content chats and get a transcript (Otter.ai is the tool I use).

Are there any particular words or phrases they use? How do they explain their viewpoint or describe something when chatting about it?

Use these in the copy so that it sounds authentic to them.

A simple example is someone who works in the healthcare sector using the word ‘poorly’ rather than ‘sick’ to describe patients using a facility.

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How to make industry awards worth entering, without actually winning

In the latest, It’s a B2B Comms Thing LinkedIn Live stream, Ayo Abbas, Emma Drake and I spotlight industry awards and the value of entering.

It takes a lot of time to pull together a good awards entry, and there may be entry fees or the cost of a table at the ceremony on top, which can make it pricey.

It’s A B2B Comms Thing LinkedIn Live stream on getting value from awards

So we talked about how worthwhile it is to enter an award, whether you can make the most even if your name, company or project doesn’t get called out on the night.

Why and when should you enter an industry award?

Emma: The first thing is timing; make sure you’ve got something really compelling, and it fits with your timing as a business.

Have a broad range of things that you’re looking at, whether it’s your product, your service, your campaign or your business. But it has to be really special, it has to really stand out.

You have to do research and have a lot of facts. There’s quite a lot of work that goes into writing that award, so make sure that time spent is worthwhile.

Ayo: Does it fit into your overall campaign objectives? You have to ask: Is this project going to help propel us where we want to go? So there has to be a reason why you’re entering.

But also, I have used award entries as a way to get our story straight. It’s a test bed, it forces you to answer those questions and get the basics. And that can be a good hook, even if you don’t win.

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How I created 9 pieces of content from a LinkedIn Live

A piece of content doesn’t have to have one life in its original format. Repurposing that content to fill different content streams – and different mediums is the smart way to build its audience.

Get creative with repurposing content. Photo by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash

Besides, creating a ‘hero’ piece of content is time-consuming, so why wouldn’t you want to get bangs for your content bucks?

Here’s an example of what I did with a LinkedIn Live. It’s A B2B Comms Thing is a monthly Live I do with a couple of fellow comms freelancers in the built environment sector.

We decide the topic and three key questions, create the artwork, set up the event using Streamyard and promote it.

The Live is 15 minutes where we answer the three questions then a Q&A with the audience. The total broadcast time is 30 minutes.

When the Live is finished, Streamyard generates a video file and a separate audio file. Our latest Live was on repurposing, and I created nine pieces of content from that initial Live, and this is what I did:

Long form blog post

Using Otter.ai, I got a transcript of the Live and created a long-form blog post from the three key questions. This took 1.5-2 hours to create and edit but writing a 1,500-word post from scratch would have taken me the best part of a day.

YouTube video

I uploaded the video to our YouTube channel. I used the same words we’d used on the LinkedIn event page for the description, just tweaked slightly.

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How do businesses talk about going green?

There is increasing pressure on businesses to set out their strategy for going green. Aside from having a moral imperative to mitigate climate impact, businesses face increasing scrutiny from investors, clients and customers.

Crowd of people and a woman is holding a cardboard sign which says Planet over Profit.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This is coupled with increased scrutiny from the government, which is introducing a number of measures to stop greenwashing – inflating green credentials.

For the second episode of It’s A B2B Comms Thing, I joined comms specialists Ayo Abbas and Emma Drake for a LinkedIn Live to discuss how businesses talk about going green.

If you are interested in the full discussion, including all the questions from the audience, you can find it here on LinkedIn but what follows are some highlights.

Why do businesses need to communicate their sustainability strategy?

Emma Drake: First, if you’re doing something amazing, then you want to tell everybody about it. As consumers and buyers, we’re increasingly looking for connections to sustainable products and services.

I had a guest on my podcast last week who works with startup companies finding investment for them. She said there’s an increasing number of investors looking to invest in sustainble businesses.

The flip side is consumers and buyers are wary, so it’s important that we communicate all the details and facts of what we’re doing clearly.

Ayo Abbas: The government is forcing peoples hands; every company by 2023 will have to have detailed public plans about how they are going to reach net zero.

Sustainability strategy and sustainability overall, if it’s done well, will be a differentiator; if it’s done badly, it will damage your business.

Me: People are much more savvy about greenwashing, and there’s a lot of scepticism about what businesses are doing or not doing. So it’s increasingly important to talk about what you are doing and your strategy.

Where does open and transparent communications leave us as communicators?

Emma: Greenwashing, whether that’s intentional or unintentional, can lead to a lack of trust from a consumer and a supply chain point of view. It’s a reputation issue that will affect the bottom line eventually.

It’s not just about best practices and communications; it’s about making sure that what we’re selling and what we’re telling people we’re selling are aligned in the simplest terms.

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Creating meaningful B2B content around ‘awareness’ days

All through the year, there are awareness days/months – Fairtrade Fortnight, Stress Awareness Month etc which offer an opportunity to publish related content.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

But it’s important to make sure that what you publish is meaningful and genuine. Your audience will see through content that is a tick box exercise or jumping on the bandwagon.

And, you risk opening your business up to extra scrutiny if you don’t put out content that is authentic and has integrity.

Take International Women’s Day which is coming up on 8 March.

The theme is Choose to Challenge, which provides a whole wealth of opportunity for content, but only if you have robust stories to tell.

Tell genuine stories

Those stories can be about what you are doing to improve gender equality in your business, what progress you’ve made, what difference you are trying to make and why.

It doesn’t matter if you are in the early stages of your strategy if you are taking genuine steps towards meeting your goals.

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