David’s recent video series on B2B copywriting advice is filled with tips if you’re new to writing business-to-business marketing copy – or even if you’d just like a refresher.
Helping get these videos out reminded me of more than a few things I wish I’d known when I started out.
Here are my five top tips from the series:
5. Never start at the beginning
Whatever you’re writing, those opening 20 words are where you present the essence of your piece – and it’s easier to write them when you know what it’s about.
So leave off writing the start/introduction to a piece of copy until after you’ve written the main body and conclusion.
And this doesn’t just apply to small pieces of content, like a blog post. Website homepages, ebook and white paper introductions can all benefit from leaving the start until the end.
(I still sometimes start at the beginning, though you’ll be pleased to know I’ve tried to break that habit in writing this post.)
4. Remember three’s the magic number
Okay, this post is a listicle containing five items, but threes do rule.
Why? It all has to do with the evolution of rhetoric devices, mnemonics and language over the millennia, but suffice to say that a lot of people in a lot different cultures find threes very satisfying to read or hear.
Beginning, middle and end. Stop, look and listen. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Heck, threes are so powerful that people even misremember a key phrase from one of Winston Churchill’s most important speeches. Churchill said during one speech:
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
But everyone always cuts the last bit down to “blood, sweat and tears”.
3. Write like you’re writing to one person
Use language that makes the reader feel like this article is just for them, and them alone. It makes it more engaging – and it means treating your reader like a real person. (Unless this has happened and you’re some kind of reading bot.)
While you write, try picturing one particular person you’re writing to. This stops you from struggling to write convincingly, and helps your copy to read like you’re writing to one person.
(I’m picturing Katy, one of our new writers, while I write this. Hi, Katy!)
It also helps to picture writing to someone who fits the audience persona you’re writing for.
2. Use plain English
Unless you’re writing for a brand that has a tone and voice guide that demands stuffy, bureaucratic English – don’t write in stuffy, bureaucratic English.
The Plain English Campaign shows, in this how-to guide, that writing in plain English has two big advantages:
- It’s easier to write
- It’s easier to read
Plain English isn’t a less sophisticated way of writing: it’s a clearer way of writing.
It’s also worth noting that writing in plain English doesn’t mean you avoid jargon, it means you use language that’s appropriate for your audience.
1. If you’re unsure about what you’ve written: read it out loud
This can be tricky when you’re stuck in an open-plan office with a bunch of other people, but reading your writing out loud helps you find sentences that don’t work.
You could find that the rhythm is flat, or that you have sentences that are too long, or that you’ve repeated the same word too many times.
Take your copy to a spot where you won’t disturb anyone while you check it out.
Identifying the above issues before sending copy to reviewed, smooths out the reviews and amends process.
Don’t be embarrassed, read your copy out loud:
More B2B writing advice
There is plenty more that you can do to ensure you write good B2B copy. In fact, we have dozens more copywriting tips on our website.
And you can catch all of David’s Kung Fu Secrets of B2B Copywriting in this handy playlist:
Look out for more B2B copywriting advice, soon (if you can’t wait, you can sign up for email updates).