Going from B2C to B2B Copywriting: Are the Differences That Big?

Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Patrick Pilkington
Patrick Pilkington

Making the move from business-to-consumer to business-to-business copywriting can seem daunting at first. Our copywriter shows that, by bringing some of the key principles of effective copy to the B2B world, you can continue to write with confidence. 

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People first

When I first began applying for B2B copywriter roles, I was a little hesitant. My background, writing product descriptions for e-commerce retailers, was about as B2C as you could get.

Would I now be writing reams of dense, difficult copy on topics that even I don’t understand – using technical terms I’ve never heard before?

Surely writing for B2B requires an in-depth knowledge of business jargon that I just don’t have?

Maybe I should stick to writing descriptions of shoes for online shopaholics…

But once I began immersing myself in the world of B2B copy, I learned a few things that helped calm my nerves – and showed me that, beyond the immediate differences, there are more than a few fundamental similarities between copywriting for B2B and B2C.

It’s all ‘H2H’

Whether you’re writing for business-to-consumer or business-to-business, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that all copy is H2H: human to human. Whatever the brief may be, it’s always best to write with one specific person in mind.

The difference is that, in the B2B world, that person often isn’t as immediately identifiable as the consumer of B2C. Maybe they’re the CEO or IT director of a large organisation. Or they’re a vendor of technical products. Or a reseller of those same products. In each instance, this person is still a thinking, feeling human being, and they probably have a problem that can be solved by the product or service you’re writing about.

Identifying this one person, understanding them, and producing copy that appeals to their wants and needs is one of the more unique pleasures of writing B2B copy. You’re often thinking beyond the relatively straightforward end user-product relationship and factoring in benefits, positioning, and even emotions you haven’t considered in your B2C copy.  

Do Your Research

How do you become the authoritative voice on a B2B product or service when you’re not an authority on tech? Good copy exudes a confident grasp of the topic you’re writing about, but when you move from writing about tangible, everyday products to more abstract technology, it’s easy to lose any confidence in your abilities.

 The good news is that tackling the world of tech means making the most of the copywriter’s most important skill – curiosity. Becoming a B2B copywriter has meant immersing myself in all manner of tech jargon, acronyms, and industry-specific terms. When you’re working with B2B tech every day, you soon get to a point where you know your Blockchain from your Big Data. As with B2C copy, doing the research into a product or service (as well as into your audience!) is the sure-fire way to produce confident, compelling content.

More good news: once you’ve mastered the jargon tech companies tend to employ, you can use your writer’s brain to begin finding more accessible, more readable alternatives! Which brings me on to my last point.

Keep it Simple

Perhaps the biggest misconception about B2B copywriting is that it’s going to get complicated. To the uninitiated, using dense and formal language seems like the only way to make your copy sound suitably specialised for businesses.  

This is insecurity talking (or should that be ‘writing’?). When you’re unsure, an abundance of big words and overreliance on that pesky jargon are ways to cover for an insufficient understanding of the product, service or audience. By trying to sound more legitimate, you may even slip into the dreaded passive voice (so “Your business will enjoy countless benefits” becomes “Countless benefits will be enjoyed by your business”).

The reality is that simpler language, in combination with that solid research you’ve already done, conveys a greater confidence in the topic than complicated copy. Your job is often to take the (potentially) dense and technical information the client has given you and translate it into crystal-clear copy that’s easy on the reader. Shorter sentences, classic storytelling techniques, and the active voice will help you express what you need to more effectively.

So, it turns out that making the leap from B2C to B2B copy isn’t the scariest thing in the world. By applying a writer’s natural curiosity, knack for research and ear for what’s readable to the world of B2B, you can play to your existing strengths – and pick up some useful new skills.

 If you’re after some sparkling new B2B copy – or want your existing content polished – get in touch here.

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