June 15, 2023

The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship

B2B marketing isn’t quite the same as B2C. There’s a lot more riding on the purchase decision, for both parties, so you need to show up for the long haul. Here’s how to write copy that means business.

B2B marketing isn’t quite the same as B2C. There’s a lot more riding on the purchase decision, for both parties, so you need to show up for the long haul. Here’s how to write copy that means business.

Great copywriting is the secret sauce that can elevate your marketing and generate outsize ROI. In every element from website microcopy to op-eds, it’s your chance to build a relationship before you ever speak directly to your customer. And in B2B, that relationship is key.

Of course, every business wants repeat customers. The strongest consumer brands invest heavily in engagement because, just for starters, it’s much easier to sell another product to someone who already loves you than to win over a new customer. But more often than not, B2B brands rely on ongoing relationships. Your job isn’t just to sell a pair of sneakers; it’s to supply your customers’ software, or their security, or even their staff… You need to become, in some sense, part of their business. You need them to commit.

Which means you need to charm them. You need to understand them. You need to show you care. At every step.

The meet cute

It starts with the very first contact – but you don’t know what that will be. Maybe your dream date (sorry, your customer) spots you on social media, or maybe they find you in a targeted search. Maybe they read a thought-provoking article under your name. Even on a cold call, they may have already seen you out there, and you know how much first impressions matter. It’s important to create a consistent tone of voice, rooted in your brand strategy, and apply it to everything. Even your microcopy is an opportunity to make a connection.

After all, an important part of copy’s job is to build trust, credibility and conviction. In B2B that credibility is particularly important. Business customers rely on your expertise to support their own mission; they will be entrusting you with their own reputation. And that’s just at the organizational level! There are real individuals choosing what supplier to go with, and they will be worried about their own professional reputations. So make sure you make the right impression from the start.  

How you do it:

  • Pay attention to all the different copy categories, from sales-focused website copy to reputation-building content. Make sure that they all show a consistent face to your customers, and invite a closer approach. Different content elements will have different goals, from discoverability to reputation building, but they should never sound like they come from different companies. (Tip: a good place to start here is by examining your customers’ tone and style. If they’re very dry and technical, but you rely on steady jokes, they might not trust you.)
  • Remember that if this potential customer found you, they also found your competitors. You need to make sure that your content stands out: that it is more convincing, more emotionally engaging, provides more value. And you need to make sure it appeals to the right people. Here’s the tricky part: in B2B, you’re never talking to just one person. You have to win over the decision makers as well as the users (who may have very different priorities). Fortunately, the sales funnel is pretty long, so you’ve got time. But only if you succeed in making the right impression up front.  
  • Streamline the customer journey and make sure your website covers all crucial information. Do your research, talk to your existing customers, explore every avenue to figure out what your prospects will need to know, and make sure that information is easy to find. This isn’t just about convincing them to reach out – it’s also about making sure that when you do make direct contact, no time is wasted. Instead of answering basic questions, you can get personal with details of how you’re ready to solve their unique problems. That’s a much more productive use of your time, as well as theirs.
  • Don’t forget to include a call to action where appropriate. That might not be in every blog post, though. Go ahead and ask for that second date, but don’t be pushy!  

The courtship

Did we mention that the sales funnel is long? Yeah, it’s really long. For anything more complex than office plants, your prospect is probably going to be spending months on defining their needs, researching and comparing providers, and getting approval. So what can you, as a copywriter, do to help them?

Let’s get back to credibility. This is where thought leadership proves its worth: by publishing in-depth articles on industry topics, whether on your own website or third-party platforms, you can build your reputation and convince customers that you have the expertise to support them. In tech especially, this is an opportunity to impress: write about knotty problems and your brilliant solution, so that your users will trust you. But you can also dig into higher-level issues (not just in your own industry, but in your customers’) to appeal to the strategic decision makers. Remember that you need to woo many different individuals, at different levels – and with different emotional drivers.

That’s right. Emotion isn’t just for B2C marketing. Your customers may be businesses, but it’s people making the decisions, and they are driven by subconscious factors at least as much as rational arguments.

How you do it:

  • Root your emotional appeal in your brand strategy. Think of how “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” – they built such a strong brand around being the safe choice that it became a byword. Your brand might be more about inspiration (what can your business achieve with us?) or community (let’s build something together!), but remember you can’t cover all bases. The safe choice isn’t going to also be the one that’s most cutting-edge and exciting.
  • Fun fact: at THE RELEVANCE HOUSE, we use a proprietary methodology for brand development that starts with sophisticated psychological analysis. It goes beyond Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs (as used in this “elements of value” pyramid), integrating two further models for a rich, nuanced view of basic human needs and finding the sweet spot for your brand. That’s how we make sure that your story hits home.  
  • A long sales funnel means more complications and more potential exits. Keep it sticky with compelling arguments, facts and solid reasons to get on board. Have your documentation ready and bulletproof; be prepared with content to address every stakeholder.

The commitment

Made it through the funnel and signed the deal? Congratulations! But we all know that long-term relationships need sustained attention. You need to build brand loyalty with great customer service as well as great products – and great copy that supports both.

How you do it:

  • Make sure that your website helps to guide users to the support they need – it’s not just for selling.
  • Use your channels to provide ongoing value to your customers: encourage them to get to know their products better and use more of their features; educate and inform them about industry developments. Social media scheduler Later uses their blog to keep readers informed on every new twist in the infamously tricky Instagram algorithm as well as social media trends and product features.
  • Remember that this kind of educational content is a fantastic audience building tool, too. Look for ways to repurpose it for wider reach, such as publishing on third-party websites. Content can provide great ROI, attracting in-bound leads for many years, even when migrated to a new website.

Taking a relationship marketing approach drives long-term growth. In B2B, you have a limited customer pool and a long sales funnel – but your customers have a high cost of switching suppliers, and a bad purchase may carry a high risk of failure. You both want this to work, so use your copy to support a strong, well-matched relationship from the start. Here’s to your happy ever afters!

Photo credits:

Photo 1 by on Freepik
Photo 2 by pvproductions on Freepik

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