Read any number of copywriting blogs and time after time you’ll be told the same thing: that B2B marketing and B2C marketing are very different disciplines. There’s a kernel of truth here – B2B audiences tend to be better informed, wield much larger budgets and make decisions on behalf of organisations rather than for themselves – but only a kernel. Many of the perceived differences are simply a case of mistaking bad copywriting for B2B copywriting.
Emotion vs logic
An oft-cited distinction between the two audiences is that B2C readers make their purchase decisions based on emotional reactions, and that B2B readers are driven solely by logic. Consider this passage from an established copywriting blog:
“You want to focus on the logical. A B2B audience makes a decision based on factors such as increasing productivity, profitability and how to reduce costs. It’s not necessary to write something overly witty and creative – just get to the facts.”
This argument fails to account for basic human nature. Regardless of whether we’re acting in a professional or personal capacity, we respond to things that appeal to our emotions. Good B2B copy should be logical and fact-based, yes, but it must also be compelling on a personal level.
Writing for a committee
Convention has it that ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’. Well, copy written for a committee is just as confused and ineffective.
And yet the idea persists that B2B marketers should write for a group of decision-makers rather than individuals. A successful freelance writer puts it that:
“Businesses make decisions by committee. You have to reach a whole team of people, each with a different agenda… and your copy has to balance everything.”
Creating multiple personas for key audience demographics is best practice, but try to write B2B copy without a specific reader in mind and you’ll find that it appeals to no-one. Like customer-facing copy, B2B content should address the individual on the other side of the screen. As The Next Web‘s Dan Taylor has it:
“You’re not going to hit every nail on the head, and that’s perfectly OK – provided that you hit the right nails.”
Tone and clarity
Few people will come right out and tell you to write opaque, confusing or long-winded B2B marketing copy. However, suggesting that B2C copy should be concise, engaging and easy to read implies that B2B copy needn’t be.
Yes, B2B audiences tend to be well informed and yes, they’ll likely understand industry jargon and sales speak. But that doesn’t mean you should adopt it as your default mode of address. Be concise, be interesting and above all be clear – don’t write anything that forces your audience to read it over again.
The truth? B2B and B2C content marketing are more alike than different. While audiences, marketing goals and strategies may differ, B2B and B2C content should not be a million miles apart. Write with a living, breathing, feeling audience in mind and you won’t go far wrong.