Kung Fu Secrets of B2B Copywriting: Be Specific

If your copy includes the words “whether”, “variety” or “range”, it might not be specific enough to make your point. Here’s why...

If you’re writing or reviewing some copy, and it includes words like “whether”, “variety”, “no matter” or “range”, you might want to look at it again, and ask if it’s really achieving what it needs to do.

I’m not saying those words are always wrong – we all use them. But they’re often a flag for lazy writing, or a lazy brief. (Or, to be generous, a moment’s brain-fade – it happens to us all.) So if you spot them, maybe just stop and double-check.

Because vague writing convinces nobody.

I see an awful lot of copy (and a lot of awful copy) that uses the structure “Whether you want this or that…” or “No matter what your need…”

And that’s a missed opportunity. You haven’t put your finger on the problem you’re going to solve for me, or given me an opportunity to recognise myself in your copy. You’re just sort of saying “this is something for everyone…” which isn’t actually all that compelling.

It’s the same with promises of “a wide range” of products, services or solutions.

Having a wide variety of products and services is almost never a benefit to me as a B2B customer.

Because I’m usually not after a wide range of things. I want one specific thing, and you have it or you don’t. (Yes, the fact you have lots of things increases the chances of that, but it also makes it harder for me to find the one product or service I want. And the whole internet is *right there*. B2B isn’t like going to a shop.)

And yet you see this vague promise of lots of things, again and again. And the reason is simple: it’s because on some level – be it the writer, the marketer or the client – someone has decided that they want to include everyone.

In this desperate rush to include me, you’ve forgotten to actually tell me anything I care about.

Consider two B2B vendors. One shows you specific examples of how they’ve tackled exactly the problem you’re facing, for customers who seem a lot like you. The other one assures you they solve lots of problems for lots of people, so it’s bound to be fine.

Be the first one.

Here’s what the video says:

When you write copy it is really tempting to want to say everything and include everyone.

And then it’s really vague. The reader is not going to go: “This is about me! You’re talking to me!”

Instead, it’s just: “Are you a person with two legs and a head?”

But if you pick something detailed, that the person is really interested in… “Are you nuts about historical photographs?”

Hell yeah! If that’s your thing, you’re interested straight away.

We wrote an advert once for Credit Management Journal and we just started with a line: “A credit manager walks into a bar…”

Because if you’re a credit manager, you go: “It’s a joke about someone who does my job!”

(The rest wasn’t a joke; it was a whole thing about how this software was brilliant, but it got their attention.)

And that’s the thing — be specific about what you say. You see you see a lot of copy that goes:

 “Whether you like this or you like that we’ve got something for you.”

 “We have a massive range of things.”

But I don’t go to buy a range; I go to buy the thing that I want.

So think about your audience, and be specific.

The more specific you can afford to be – or the braver you are about the specific message that you give – the more powerful it is.

Want more copywriting tips?

Check out the next video, and find out why reading your writing out loud is great for composing and editing.

(Or watch the full Kung Fu Copywriting playlist here.)


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