I still remember cracking my knuckles and sitting down to write my first ever piece as a B2B copywriter (long before I joined HN, I hasten to add), for my friend’s business home page. It was beautiful, it was inspiring, and the words were so sparkly, you needed shades to read them.
She hated it.
I’m sure I’m not the only fledgling writer to have thought it would be a great opportunity to flex their creative muscles, only to find out that writing is a much more scientific process than they realised. Fortunately, I heeded my own advice by turning that failure into a learning experience, and making sure my friend loved the second draft.
Choosing the wrong person to create content for your business can cost you precious time and money, not to mention endless frustration. Here’s what that ideal person isn’t:
• Precious — they need to be able to take feedback and criticism on the chin. Creating engaging copy is a collaborative process and can take several iterations. I once heard of a writer who received some negative feedback and sobbed down the phone to her client that her birthday was ruined. The client told me that if she’d simply asked what was wrong and fixed it, she’d have given her more work.
• Perfect — many of us are perfectionists (it’s in our nature), but we have to rein that in, or we’d never finish a job. Neither will the perfect writer single-handedly transform your business: teamwork is key.
• A grammar pedant — obviously, you want your copy to be written to a high standard, but you don’t want someone tying themselves up in knots over ancient grammar rules. Language evolves over time, and it’s much more important that your words help to engage the reader.
• And they’re not necessarily English graduates either (although they can be). While there’s a significant overlap of skills, it doesn’t follow that a novelist or poet can write B2B copy, or vice versa. The biggest difference is the need to inject the copy with the client’s personality, not your own.
So what does make a good B2B copywriter? Well, here’s what we love our writers to be:
• A storyteller. Long gone are the days when clients were happy to scour a datasheet to figure out whether you could solve their problems. And there’s no better way to engage potential customers than by creating a hero they can identify with.
• Knowledgeable about your industry and up to date with the latest developments. We’ve found that having people from an engineering/IT background (as well as English grads) has helped open doors for us — clients don’t worry that there’s going to be a steep learning curve.
• Champion of the brief. No B2B copywriter should sit down to write without a very clear brief. A good writer will help their customer hammer out the details of the brief as necessary, and will challenge assumptions to ensure that ultimately the content will do its job well (which may include overcoming potential scepticism from the target audience). Once the brief is agreed, your writer should help you keep it safe from unhelpful and unnecessary detours that prevent the piece from achieving its objectives.
• Consistent and calm. Most people find their creativity waxes and wanes but when writing is your living, you sometimes have to sit down and write when you don’t feel like it.
If this has inspired you to do some copywriting yourself, you might want to check out this post we prepared earlier about how straight-talking can make your messages more powerful. And if you need help creating copy that sparkles in a good way, give us a call on 01628 622187.