Hi! I’m George. Yes, I have the same name as the new prince. I get that a lot.
I recently started working for Radix Communications, nabbing a sweet post within a great team. Having struggled with the mighty daemon of post-university employment after graduating, Unlocking Potential came to the rescue as my knights in shining armour. They’re an organisation who have helped tonnes of confused graduates find their way in the big bad world of business, and they were kind enough to give me the same treatment. They set me up with Radix, and it was love at first sight, but there were lessons to be learnt.
I swaggered in on my first day only to discover three important tips that I would like to share with anyone else hoping to enter the daunting world of B2B copywriting:
Don’t be too clever
I was an English student. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: He’s one of those pseudo-bohemians who talks about panopticon societies and Hamlet’s Epicurean bathos. I was never a bohemian, but I was certainly used to a more pompous style of prose. A cigar is never just a cigar in the world of academia. I quickly learnt that there is no room for this in copywriting.
My first assignment was an email campaign on chat support centres, an area that I needed to research before I began writing. The sheer banality of some of the buzz words used in enterprise technology was enough to make me repent from all the times I used the word post-modern in vain. Tech copy is rife with BS already, and I had to quickly understand that my job was to cut through the jargon rather than add to it.
Don’t be too stupid
Throughout my university life, I wrote a lot of articles for gaming websites. Yes, I was that guy who got paid to play games, but the majority of my job was writing these reviews up. There is a certain style to games journalism that is in direct opposition to academic prose though. If you use any lengthy words, or don’t get the phrases “super-awesome,” “immersive gameplay” and “next-gen graphics” into your article, you’re considered a bad journalist or a pretentious goon. Most of my readers considered me both.
That said – you can’t get away with being this informal in copywriting. You get straight to the point, and you certainly don’t use the word “awesome.” [Editor’s Note: you can most definitely be informal and use words like ‘awesome’ in B2B copywriting, just probably not for this particular client…] I learnt this the hard way, with my attempts to inject excitement into a description of enterprise resource planning software falling on deaf ears. Just don’t write like an eight-year-old and you’ll be on the right track.
Don’t ignore loose screws
A screw fell out of my chair in my first week and, putting it to one side, I have yet to fix my seat. I now live in a state of continuous angst, paranoid that my throne will crumble under the dense mass of my well-sculpted calves. Stay safe folks, and always fix your chair if you see any problems on the horizon.
In conclusion, my first few weeks have been an important and enjoyable learning experience. I’m now only pompous about 70% of the time, I’ve met some great people and I have an excuse to wear flashy suits, all because of starting on the copywriting ladder with Radix. There’s still the problem with my chair, of course, but two out of three ain’t bad, right?