A few years before I joined Radix, I wrote for a small video gaming site. At that time a close friend of mine, who had been in games media for a while, would share his tales of derring-do.
He recounted how his first job back in 2005 involved him writing a preview for a game when they had no videos, demos, screenshots, or any real info about it. All they had to go on was another preview written by a competing publication earlier that month.
We both laughed hysterically at how unprofessional games journalism was back then.
But then it struck me. Many copywriters and content creators are in the exact same situation. And rather than just providing the occasional hilarious anecdote, it’s the reality they have to work with day to day.
The knowledge gap between product and writer
Here in the B2B world, copywriters are expected to write authoritative content about complex products, services and industries; content that compels the audience to do something.
And yet, more often than not, the writer is expected to do that with very little knowledge and information on the topic at hand – and not for lack of trying. Often it’s simply too difficult, time – consuming or costly to get the writer anything more than a few pages of product messaging.
But if you’re a marketer and this describes your approach to briefing your writers, there’s a strong case for offering them a deeper level of immersion in the topics you need them to write about.
A case in point: recently I was fortunate to be tasked with writing a series of data sheets on a business productivity software suite. Thankfully, said software suite had a consumer version I’d used before that wasn’t vastly different to its enterprise offering.
Having used this software in the past made my work much more personable, much easier to write, and more effective at conveying why the audience should consider that product over a competitor.
But this is the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time, B2B writers are creating content about things they don’t fully understand, that solve challenges they’ve never personally faced.
How to fill your writers with knowledge and enthusiasm
That means there’s a serious knowledge gap in content marketing, which is one of the reasons so much B2B content is so lacklustre.
The good news is that, while it might take a bit of time to adjust, closing the gap isn’t necessarily that difficult.
Whether you’re a writer looking to raise your game, an agency looking to build competitive advantage, or an in-house marketer looking to bump up the quality of your outsourced content, here are three ways to close the dreaded knowledge gap.
Get a product or service demo going
Some of my greatest writing revelations have been when I’ve visited a client and they’ve shown me the actual product I’ve been writing about for so long.
It usually follows the same pattern: At first, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to see: just a big box.
But then a product expert will come in and started showing me all the dashboards, use cases and features. Only then do I start truly getting enthused about what that product could do.
More importantly, my copy becomes equally enthusiastic.
So if you can, set up a proper product demo for your writer, with an expert to help them explain to your audience why they should care.
Connect your writers with industry experts
Of course, you can’t always get every writer out to see a full blown demonstration from the product team. But anyone can arrange a call to give the writer some additional context for the topic.
It’s easy for a writer to lose focus if they’re writing for and about people in job roles they’ve never encountered. If you can set up calls with friendly customers – or people within your own organisation who hold those roles – it can provide some hugely valuable context to help your writer engage the target audience and speak knowledgeably to their challenges, ambitions and goals.
Just get the writers out for a visit
Sometimes just inviting your writers to spend some time at your office is enough to transform the quality of the copy they produce.
Spending some face-to-face time with you, and experiencing your company culture at first hand, can be enough to forge a greater connection between the writer and the products and issues they’re writing about – resulting in more confident, more empathetic content, and better marketing results.
Mind the gap
I’m not saying this problem doesn’t exist for a reason. When everything needs to be done yesterday, it’s all too easy to give and receive copy briefs over email and just get on with it.
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Header image adapted from “Eric & his Gator” by jeanbaptisteparis, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.