Stuffy and stifling. That’s how the majority of B2B content writing feels. This isn’t any singular person or entity’s fault, per say. Injecting personality into B2B marketing content is hardly at the top of any organisation’s agenda. What’s more, casual writing styles fly in the face of everything that we’ve been taught in school about professional writing. But here’s the kicker. The business objective of writing is to sell, not excel on a corporate buzzword exam. More often than not, playing it safe blends your company right into the sea of competitors you’re struggling to stand out from. It’s counter-intuitive.
After all, if nobody cared about your business before, sticking adjectives such as “next-generation” or “revolutionary” that every other business uses isn’t going to change their minds. Such words needlessly occupy space that could have been used to actually tell your audience what your product can do for them, and because they are so overused, buzzwords like these will hardly encourage potential customers to press buy. On the flip side, taking risks by using phrases that push the boundaries can maximise the odds of your product being top-of-mind when clients are whittling down their options.
If you take away nothing else from this, know that good copywriting keeps your B2B brand relatable. Here’s how our writers at Etymon draw results for our clients by keeping things fun:
Copywriting tip #1: Use colloquialisms, even if B2B executives don’t like them
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. And in case you thought that only applied in the West, big tech and financial firms companies in Singapore have also been relaxing their dress code to attract a wider pool of talent in recent years.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to pepper website copy with whatever’s showing up on TikTok’s #fyp. But knowing when and how to use the appropriate slang can be a powerful tool that gains you entry into an in-group. Pop culture has catchphrases and shorthands. The corporate world has acronyms. Crypto and finance bros have terms to describe the most attractive investment vehicles. By using these words appropriately, you can show your audience 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, and actions you can take. The first one is a lot less personable as it addresses an entire profession that you may or may not be a part of. It may have even conjured stock images of faceless copywriters hunched over their desks. 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.
Now it’s your turn. Send us a blog article by filling the form below and watch us transform it from run-off-the-mill page filler to attractive lead magnet.