How eight B2B copywriters tackled exactly the same brief

We talk a lot about the importance of matching the right B2B copywriter to each job. But just how much would the results vary? We tried an experiment – using our own team as guinea pigs.

How eight B2B copywriters tackled exactly the same brief

Here at Radix, we think it’s a real strength that we cover pretty much all the B2B copywriting bases. Our founder, Fiona, worked hard to assemble a team with complementary talents, to make sure we have a writer to suit every job.

But how important is it really?

We were curious to find out whether different writers, given a similar brief, really would come up with wildly different results – and how that might look in practice. Our monthly in-house copywriting training gave us an opportunity to do just that.

Eight very different writers

Fiona has intentionally built a team of writers with very different backgrounds and approaches. Here’s our guinea pig lineup:

  • David (overrated, ‘creative’ poser – possibly writing this post)
  • Emily (content marketing manager and blogging supremo)
  • George (demon interviewer who fears no word count)
  • John (attention-grabber-in-chief: social media and listicles a speciality)
  • Kieran (creative storyteller whose writing prowess grows with his hair)
  • Matt (cynical, witty, precise and usually right)
  • Steve (marketing-savvy copywriting chameleon)

…and, of course, Fiona herself (Radix lodestar and queen of long-form content).

One very simple brief

On the face of it, the brief was really simple: write the first copy a visitor will read on the new Radix website.

We asked for a few words, explaining the company – or at any rate as much as people need to know straight away – in a voice that reflects our brand, and what we’re like to work with.

We gave them an upper limit of about 20 words… and 20 minutes.

(Head to the following link if you’re wondering how to correctly brief a B2B copywriter.)

To help, we circulated a copy of our brand voice guidance, and copies of the three main personas we hope will visit our site (that’s B2B marketers, tech CEOs and senior agency types – if that’s you, hello).  Also, the whole challenge came at the business end of a web copywriting training session, covering audience, search intent, calls to action and stuff like that.

Then we collated the results anonymously and – just for fun – asked Fiona if she could guess who wrote what. She says:

“Oh crikey, just what every armchair theorist dreads – having to prove an idea works in practice. I’m pretty confident I can recognise each of our writers from their style, but let’s see…”

The results

Obviously, after only a few minutes you’re never going to get the finished article (short copy, as we all know, is exponentially more difficult). But would there be enough time for each writer’s personal style to come to the fore?

Let’s find out…

Our expert copywriters help the world’s leading IT companies get their voices heard.
Do B2B better.

Fiona says: “At first I couldn’t decide between Matt and John, but I’m going to say John. He’s excellent at coming up with neat, pithy turns of phrase, and “Do B2B better” has stuck in my mind since I first looked at this a couple of days ago.”

Actually written by: John. 1-0 to Fiona!

Need a great B2B copywriter? You’ve just found a whole warehouse full of them.
Radix Communications helps tech businesses talk to prospects, customers and even their own staff.
Find out how we can educate, persuade and – to be frank – sell more stuff.

Fiona says: “I’m pretty sure this is Kieran. He has a very conversational style, so he’s likely to address the audience directly and include conversational phrases like to be frank. And he’s also great at conjuring up mental images in his copy, like the warehouse full of great B2B copywriters.”

Actually written by: Kieran. Fiona’s making this look easy. That’s 2-0…

Radix: The copywriting agency that understands B2B technology, industry and professional services.

Fiona says: “I’ve come to this one last, and the only writer left is George, so I’m going to say George. I like the italics on The – that’s a very neat way of suggesting uniqueness. And the rest of it is very succinct and to the point as well.”

Actually written by: George. Fiona isn’t cheating, we promise. 3-0.

Radix turns the complex into the compelling. This is B2B technology copy done right.

Fiona says: “I’ll go out on a limb and say this was written by Matt. His writing is very direct, economical and to the point, and this is a very elegant summing-up of our value proposition.”

Actually written by: Steve. Oops: that’s 3-1.

We’re B2B copywriters specialising in enterprise IT, and we help marketing pros create content that gets results.

…and…

We’re a team of B2B copywriters helping marketers create content that gets their message heard by the right people.

Fiona says: “I’m going to guess Emily wrote these.  These are quite long sentences, and Emily has a fairly prolix style, but they do get a lot of our key messages across.”

Actually written by: Matt (who has asked us to stress how little time he had for the challenge). Fiona’s pegged back to 3-2…

We write standout marketing content for the world’s leading B2B agencies and brands. On time, every time (and with a smile).

Fiona says: “I’m going to say Steve. The “and with a smile” made me think of Kieran at first, but the combination of a long, informative sentence followed by a short, snappy sentence is very Steve.”

Actually written by: David. Frankly, I’m disappointed Fiona didn’t spot my trademark brackets. Less importantly, the scores are now level at 3-3.

Need copy? Talk to Radix.
We’ve worked with over 60 B2B brands. We get copy.
And we’ll get yours too.

Fiona says: “I reckon this was written by David. It’s succinct, confident, to the point, action-oriented, emphasises our credentials, and addresses the audience directly. And there’s a sentence that starts with And. Although I’d be more convinced this was David’s writing if there was a comma before the too. And now I think this was maybe Kieran and the one I said was Kieran was actually David. Argh.”

Actually written by: Emily. Top stattage, from the only person who’d know we’ve dealt with 60 brands. But at 3-4 down, is Fiona’s challenge in the balance?

Welcome to Radix.
The copywriting agency for the B2B tech world.
Copy you can count on.
What we do | How we work

Fiona says: “I’m on safe ground here: I wrote this. I wanted the copy to show *and* tell. Tell potential clients that we – uniquely – provide the service they’re looking for, and that we’re a safe pair of hands when it comes to outsourcing B2B tech copy. And show them we can write clearly, succinctly and to the point. Plus the two calls to action cover the two questions we hear most often from prospective clients.”

Actually written by: Fiona. She’s saved… by actually having taken part.

The verdict

Although the scores finished even, I reckon Fiona’s odds of successfully hitting 4 out of 8 writers by chance were something in the region of 1 in 100. So from that point of view, the results are pretty encouraging.

But the really interesting part is just how many ways there are to explain something pretty simple in 20(ish) words. Is it about the sector, the clients, what we do, how we do it… or simply what the results are? Each writer has their own take – so choose yours carefully.

I’ll give Fiona the final words: “I thought this was going to be easy – I regularly review all of our writers’ work, and I thought I’d be able to recognise each one’s style a mile off. Not so at all! It was actually fantastically difficult to identify any of them with any confidence.

“What was interesting, though, is that three out of the seven directly address our audience (using you) and the rest talk about Radix (using we).

“This is a big dilemma for lots of brands when it comes to homepage copy: do we lead with what we do, or with the problem the audience has? My instincts as a copywriter are towards the latter, but my experience is that when prospective clients call us, it’s usually because they’ve typed B2B copywriter or technology copywriter into Google and they’re relieved to see that this is clearly what we do.

“In the end, there was a lot to like – we distilled some of the essence for our actual home page copy, and if you’re eagle-eyed, you might see some of the other phrases dotted around our site as well.”

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Editor’s note: In the spirit of the blog post, we made the header image in one take. In the process, John managed to “Cronenberg” himself. ^EK


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