Clarity is something of a white whale for B2B marketing content. Every brand wants to make clear and engaging content, but that can be an uphill battle when writing about the complex, often arcane topics floating around in the business-to-business world.
This puts writers and marketers alike in a tough spot: balancing the need to bring technical depth to a piece – without compromising readability. While this blog won’t help you flex your technical knowledge (but this piece might help you with that), it will give you five writing techniques that can help you deliver more readable, engaging content.
1: The rule of three
The rule of three is a writing device that’s almost as old as time itself. And it’s no wonder it’s been a favourite for so long. Trios offer a good rhythm, they’re concise, and they’re the shortest list you can create that still establishes a pattern.
Any time you need to list out concepts in your copy – whether that’s customer pain points, features or solution benefits – splitting them into threes can help make your points more memorable for your audience.
For example: This blog can help you learn new tricks, create compelling copy, and tackle complex topics with confidence.
2: A final clause
I like em dashes. A lot. I like them so much, I even wrote a whole blog about them. But even outside of my strange love of lines, there’s no doubt a dash is a useful writing tool to have in your drawer.
A great place to use one is when you have a long sentence but don’t know how to cut it down. Em dashes can help you split your sentences up, without having to cram in loads of commas. Do note that some house styles (including ours!) prefer the slightly narrower en dash (with spaces) instead of an em dash, so check your style guide before getting stuck in.
For example: With em dashes, you can bring some visual clarity to your sentences and keep them easy to read—even if they get a little long.
3: Careful repetition
Repetition is almost always seen as a bad thing. But used in the right way, it can be a bit of a superpower, suggesting logic and balance.
If you’re going to use repetition, you need to make it very obvious what you’re doing and pin your entire sentence around it. Otherwise, you risk repeating phrases and words in a way that bores your reader rather than helping you get your point across.
For example: Complex topics can lead to complex writing jobs, but these five tips can help you keep things simple.
4: Start with a conjunction
When you’re writing about complicated subject matter, it’s all too easy for sentences to start getting a little long. After all, that deep, technical rundown has to fit in somewhere, right? But when sentences start to expand, your readers might start tripping over your copy and stop reading.
A simple way to cut things down to size is to split clauses into sentences of their own. And it’s really easy to do this if you’re willing to start sentences with conjunctions like ‘but’ or ‘and’. Don’t listen to what your English teacher said; it’s grammatically correct, I promise.
For example: Traditionalists would argue you can’t begin a sentence with a conjunction. But they’re wrong.
5: Ask a rhetorical question
When tackling a deep topic, your audience will likely have all kinds of questions as they’re reading. If you ask these questions directly, you can show empathy with your audience and establish a strong connection with them.
Rhetorical questions are an easy way to stop things getting monotonous, re-engage your reader, and keep them interested in what’s coming up later on in your content.
For example: Is there a limit to how useful these techniques are? Read on, and you’ll find out.
There’s no substitute for experience
While these techniques can be help bring clarity to your writing, they aren’t miracle cure-alls.
There are still plenty of situations you can’t solve with a trio or a rhetorical question. And if you over-rely on tricks like these, they can quickly make your copy seem formulaic and repetitive. So use them sparingly, like spices.
These five techniques can help bring your reader along with you for a simple content piece. But if you need more depth, never be afraid to call on more experienced writers for help.