Stuffy and stifling. That’s how the majority of B2B content writing feels. We don’t blame the content writers, personality is not at the top of every client’s agenda. In fact, we don’t blame tech or B2B clients, either. Writing in a casual manner flies in the face of everything that we were taught in school and work. But here’s the kicker — in business, the objective of writing is to sell, not excel on a corporate buzzword exam. The thing about playing it safe is that it harms audience engagement rather than retains it.
Afterall, if nobody cared about your business before, stating that your product “next-generation” or “revolutionary” isn’t going to change their minds. At the end of the day, it is a person who’s going to press that button to buy your product — so keeping your brand relatable is mission-critical. That’s what will maximise the odds of your product being top-of-mind when clients are whittling down their options.
As with anything in copywriting, the execution is always easier said than done. But here are some tips to get you started.
Copywriting tip #1: Colloquialisms can be used for people in suits
The use of colloquialism or slang is often frowned upon in formal settings. Some might even go as far as to say that colloquialism should never be typed out in any formal publication that wishes to take itself seriously. But being serious should only matter as much as it helps your business. In 2019, half of the U.S. workforce was already wearing casual clothes to the office – and that was before the pandemic let us attend meetings in our pyjamas. That same demographic of workers would likely pick more casually written blogs over formal ones stuffed with buzzwords any day.
Does that mean that you should pepper website copy with the latest trending words from TikTok? Of course not. Slang is powerful because it signifies that you’re part of an in-group. Think of catchphrases and shorthands that pop up on social media, forums, blogs, or even in conversation when you’re discussing tech or finance. Using these words appropriately shows that you know what you’re talking about, boosting your authority and audience engagement.
Copywriting tip #2: Contractions – don’t be afraid to use ’em
Did you know that Harvard Business Review is mostly written at a junior high or high school level? Keeping your writing simple keeps it accessible to most people (yes, even corporate people). That, in turn, will boost your chances of making a sale or raising brand awareness by pulling people in rather than shutting them out. Whenever in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to write at Secondary 1 level (or 8th grade by American standards).
There’s really no reason to draw out sentences just because you’re writing B2B. Tl;dr, memes weren’t born out of nothing. People are simply too busy these days to bother with cumbersome walls of text. Contractions can help shorten sentences and even brighten them with variation so that your reader doesn’t get bored. Remember, the key is to keep them scrolling, not meet your English teacher’s essay criteria.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Only 26% of English speakers are native which means contractions can complicate reading. Some writers also suggest that not all contractions are made equal. Should’ve and could’ve for example, are a lot harder to read than you’ll and we’ll. So as with most things, apply appropriately and in moderation.
Copywriting tip #3: Pronouns can make your reader feel seen
Pronouns may not fit in the flashiest of word categories, but they can be some of the most powerful. They position the reader and determine their vantage point, and consequently – how close they feel towards your brand.
Consider the following sentences:
- Copywriters should use the right pronouns to grab their audience’s attention.
- You should use the right pronouns to grab your audience’s attention.
Even though both sentences are essentially saying the same thing, the second one probably sounds a lot more relevant because it addresses you, the audience, actions you can take. The first one is a lot less personable as it addresses an entire profession. You might even have pictured stock images of faceless copywriters hunched over their desks while reading it. And in case you think we’re making this up, studies have demonstrated how the third person perspective creates psychological distance.
Similarly, when introducing your brand on an About Us page, using the first person pronouns like we and us help make your brand come off as a lot more approachable and personable. And that definitely comes in handy when you’re in a relationship-driven market.
That’s not to say that the third person perspective is off limits. Putting distance can be a useful, and sometimes necessary tool. It helps writers stay objective when drafting white papers, annual reports, and can even be thrown into the mix when you’re trying to establish yourself as a figure of knowledge or authority. So have the third person perspective on hand to pull out when the occasion calls for it.
Boost sales by targeting B2B copywriting at human buyers
The bottom line is: Writing should engage your audience because it is a human buyer who you are trying to impress at the end of the day. We’re not just pulling this notion out of thin air, either. Several of our B2B clients have witnessed first-hand how personable and relatable writing generates more leads and conversions.
Find out for yourself. Send us your best blog article and we’ll show you how we give it some personality and make it more memorable.