Don’t believe the hype: why your best B2B content writer is a sceptic

Have you fallen for your own hype? Emily explains how buying into you own brand’s image can ruin your B2B marketing content, and why writers should stay sceptical.

The best writers don't believe in your hype

Your product or service is great. You know that.

Or do you?

In B2B marketing, there is always the risk that you’ll fall for your brand’s hype. That’s a deep, dark hole to tumble into – and if you stay down there, your marketing content will suck.

The good news is that a good B2B content writer can help you climb out – because (with all due respect) they don’t believe you.

Hype needs to be countered by reality – it’s for your own good

Forrester points out that 74% of your buyers conduct more than 50% of their research online before they buy. They’re looking at your content, your competitor’s content, industry insights, and a whole host of other stuff to help them understand what they’re going to invest in.

But those customers are busy. And they’re really, REALLY smart. They don’t have time for content that does nothing to address any of their concerns or pain points. Your customers need content that answers their questions. And they can smell a phoney a mile off.

Like Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, points out in his book They Ask, You Answer:

“[Whoever] is willing to answer your question first, in most cases, is the one who will get the first phone call or contact.”

They Ask, You Answer, p.40

It’s not just about being first to answer. Those answers, and the content they form, need to be truthful, leaving no doubts. As Harry Kapur, senior writer, Velocity Partners, explained in Good Copy, Bad Copy:

“[Chances] are if you’re feeling sceptical about something, your reader is too.”

If your content doesn’t seem trustworthy – if it doesn’t feel right – your prospect will walk away.

If your writer makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, that’s a good thing

What does a sceptical, external writer have that you don’t? We have:

  • Emotional distance from the product
  • A strong aversion to “unnecessary” jargon
  • An immense dislike of bullshitting
  • A licence to ask big, dumb questions

If you want your brand to be the first customers call, these are pretty much superpowers. But you need to give your copywriter a licence to use them. So if we ask you “can you prove that?” or “why is that a good thing?”, we’re not being rude. We’re representing your customer – which is why you hired us in the first place, right?

How do content writers and copywriters know you’re caught in a hype-hole?

Writers can tell when you’ve fallen for hype. There are tells (in your emails, phone calls, meetings, stone carvings, existing content). We get a “gut feeling” that we’re not getting the real picture.

These tells, according to my colleagues Steve George and Fiona Campbell-Howes, include:

  • An overreliance on jargon. This usually comes from prolonged exposure to product messaging that talks in circles to avoid the fact that your solution doesn’t really do anything unique.
  • Always thinking your audience is a member of the C-suite. Sorry, but it’s unlikely. You need to be realistic about the audience that’s going to get you results by seeing the content and then acting on it.
  • Focusing relentlessly on your competitors. If this focus includes “competitive takeout” campaigns where you want to be insulting about the competition – rather than saying what you do best, and give useful information – you’ve got a problem.

But the biggest tell?

Being unable to talk about your offering in clear, simple terms.

Matt Godfrey, senior Radix copywriter, explained to me that he always asked clients the “So what?” question, because:

“If they can’t give you a decent reason why the audience should care about what they’re saying, then you know this pig’s going to need a lot of lipstick…”

Help sceptical writers help you

Think like a customer. Your audience wants content that addresses their needs and concerns.

Being able to see when your content is weak and doesn’t give your audience what it needs, means you’ll be a better judge of what will and won’t work for your brand.

David McGuire, Radix creative director, says:

“One of the best things about being an external copywriter is having a licence to ask big, dumb questions like ‘what does that mean?’ ‘why is this a good thing?’ and ‘what difference does that make to your customer?’”

You wouldn’t call Superman, and tell him he mustn’t fly. So let your copywriter ask you those tough questions, and you’ll get the content that your audience (and your brand) deserves.

If you think you might be stuck in a hype hole, call a B2B content writer. We have a nose for bullshit, and we’re more than happy to use it.


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