Writing B2B copy

I read with interest this posting on LinkedIn from the Technology Marketing group.

Summary, in case you don’t want to read it or can’t see it because you aren’t a group member:
A lot of B2B marketing copy is boring and dry – meaning tough to read unless you are motivated. For example – “Our product/service enables you to do this so you can get that.”

I think this points out a common occurrence I’ve seen in many high tech firms. Lots of marketing copy is written by product managers, or worse, engineers. Often these people have obviously great technical skills but probably are not the best writers. On the flip side, a good writer often has little or no technical background and depends heavily on these people to supply the content.

Perhaps the best thing that happened to me in college (besides the parties and girls) was having an English major for a roommate. Although I had to occasionally help Dan with his math class challenges such as addition and subtraction, I benefited greatly by the wealth of reading material he brought into our dorm room. When I got tired of calculus or the theory of relativity, I’d pick up random reading such as Immanuel Kant’s “The Critique of Practical Reason” or Turgenev’s “Fathers and Sons” or Granta Magazine, a tremendous literary mag out of England (actually, my brother Walter turned me on to this).  The point is that I luckily stepped out of the bounds of the normal Engineering curicullum and received a more well-rounded education.  And this has served me well.

Getting back to B2B writing, it really does need to be pumped up some.  Stop focusing on “our product can do this” and focus more on what the reader is seeking – what will this do for me?  How will this solve my problem?  How will this make me look better?

So this goes beyond what the above posting has.  Not to take away from it – the point is highly valid that the content needs to be better written so someone will be interested.  I fully agree with that.  And it really needs to be done all the time.  But above and beyond that, the story or call to action needs to be compelling.  You need the talent to take the “technical” features of a product/service and translate them into benefits.  THEN you need to write that story (brochure, datasheet, web page, etc.) using the excitement and action words the posting talks about.

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