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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And another thing…How to keep B2B writing focused

This is something I get asked about a lot: How do I keep my B2B writing focused and to the point.

There is a temptation to cover a lot of ground in articles and stories, particularly when it’s a big topic. Sustainability is the one I find hardest to keep succinct.

Slightly out of focus picture of the word Focus spelt out in lights
Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

It can be difficult seeing the wood for the trees when you have a lot of information to work with and so much seems relevant.

Writing for print can be easier because you have to keep to specific word counts, but most content is online these days, so word counts are far more flexible.

In my early years as a magazine features writer, I quickly learnt how to hone in on what is critical for the article. We were time-poor, and overwriting, then editing down just wasn’t an efficient way of working.

Going a little bit over was fine as it was easy to cut words tightening up the copy in the edit. But having to cut out huge chunks to make it fit the page just made the writing process more time-consuming.

There would inevitably be far more information than I could include in a feature, so I learned to plan out my features and keep it focused.

Carefully plan your article

Spending time planning before you put your fingers on the keyboard makes writing much quicker and can stop you from getting overwhelmed by too much information – or sidetracked. Here’s what you can do.

List of the main points you want to make. If that list is getting long, then think about how you can trim it down or break it up into more manageable chunks.

Remember, stuff you dump from this piece can be content topics for another day, so don’t bin it completely.

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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’.

Make your writing sound human. Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

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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Want people to stop scrolling and click on your B2B content?

Promoting your content on social media can be a great way of increasing engagement with your B2B content but there is an art to writing posts that get people to stop scrolling and click through to your content.

A row of people in suits all looking at their smart phones - picture is a close up of their hands.
Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

Think of LinkedIn or Twitter as like a huge crowd with everyone shouting to be heard. You need to craft a few sentences that stand out and grab attention.

It’s not simply a case telling people you’ve written something and they will click through and read.

Doing this just lets down all the hard work you put into your creating your B2B content.

Look at it this way. If you were selling a book door to door, you wouldn’t simply say: “I have a book, do you want to buy it?”

You’d talk about what was in the book and why it was interesting or useful.

And yet it isn’t unusual to see a social media post that says something like: ‘Our latest report on the office market is out’.

Now context, the business brand or person writing the post might help.

But it may not.

And if you are relying solely on who you are to ‘sell’ your content to potential readers, then you are missing out.

Hint: People may not know who you are or have read anything you’ve written before.

You want to make people stop and pay attention and to do that you need to capture their interest or intrigue about your content, so people want to click through and read it.

Here are some ideas for how you can do that:

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Unlocking the benefits of regular B2B content – and my goal for 2021

It’s been two years since I set myself a goal of writing regular blog content here on my business website but like a lot of New Year’s Resolutions, it fell by the wayside.

I knew I needed to blog regularly because it is good for business, helping to build authority and traffic for my website. And I also knew I should practice what I preach.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

But it wasn’t until a lightbulb moment in September last year that I was finally on the road to achieving that goal – and as a result, it’s unlocked a new content marketing opportunity for 2021.

Up until last Autumn, my blog post writing was sporadic at best with some months going past without publishing anything at all.

It meant my web content wasn’t delivering with no discernible rise in traffic or engagement. And few business leads came from my website.

Content ideas weren’t the problem as I was publishing regularly on social media – LinkedIn – and getting good results.

So what changed? The spur – or perhaps kick up the backside – was a conversation with a fellow freelancer who refocused my B2B content strategy.

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