Spending four weeks as part of the Radix team has been an invaluable experience.
My writing has improved, I have a better grasp of the industry that I’m working towards joining, and I’ve had the chance to learn from a team of skilled writers. I’ve even learned that working in an office isn’t as bad as you might think (well, not at Radix anyway).
But why do you care?
Well, I picked up five tips that could make your marketing copy more direct, engaging and powerful from the first draft.
To help bring everything together, I’ve revisited a piece of copy that I wrote prior to coming to Radix, to show what I would do differently now. (It’s a travel piece that I wrote for my university’s newspaper about spending a summer working at a summer camp in the US.)
Rather than bog you down with every little detail of how my writing has improved, here are the big things I’ve taken away from my time with the Radix team:
#1 Less is usually more
Remember the phrase ‘quality over quantity’? Well, in the world of B2B copywriting, it couldn’t be more true. Writing copy that’s powerful, concise and direct is difficult, but when it’s done right it packs a punch.
Getting someone to read your copy is the first achievement, but keeping the reader interested is where the job really gets tough.
Using shorter sentences and paragraphs can help make your copy more digestible. But ultimately, the most valuable thing I’ve learned is the importance of writing with authority. If what you’re saying has enough authority, it won’t need a high word count or complex vocabulary to prove it and keep people interested.
For example, I cut…
After the majority of a year saving my pennies and working full time in my local corner shop, I was just about ready to pack my rucksack with whatever I could carry and cross the Atlantic Ocean.
After working and saving for over a year, I packed my rucksack and crossed the Atlantic.
The latter sentence tells the same story, but it sounds more exciting. It’s active and confident.
#2 Layout is key
In the world of academic writing, we’re used to striving to hit lofty word counts – often leading to long paragraphs and impenetrable walls of text. But in the real world, big blocks of text are off-putting, and can have a serious negative impact on the quality of your copy, so be careful not to let this habit slip into the workplace.
I’ve learned to use helpful tools like:
- bullet points – helping me convey lots of information concisely
- headers – which ensure the copy flows from point to point clearly (and make your content more scannable when used well)
- box outs – giving me a chance to pull focus to specific points or statistics
Using these breaks up the copy into readable sections that are much less daunting at first glance.
Using bullet points, headers and box-outs lets you pull focus, and makes your copy less daunting
#3 Know your audience
Shaping the tone of your copy to suit the context and the audience is vital in ensuring that the content is read as intended.
When writing B2B copy, your aim is to get the reader to think about or do something in particular. And they’re far more likely to do that if they feel like you’re speaking their language.
With the writing example I revisited, I was writing for a university newspaper, so the tone was informal and conversational.
And it was easy for me to embody that voice as it was one that came naturally to me.
Being at Radix I’ve discovered just how challenging it can be to write for personas you don’t personally relate to – for example, CFOs at multinational Financial Services companies.
But if you want to write in a way that makes an impact and drives an action, it’s essential to put yourself in your audience’s shoes – no matter how uncomfortable that footwear may feel.
As an intern I have found that the best way to get myself in a CFO’s shoes is to do background research into the company they work for and to figure out the solutions they need and why.
Another great resource is the brief. This will give you insight into the needs the copy should fulfil and can help you decipher the tone that will be most suited.
#4 Stick to the brief
Something that I didn’t have when writing my piece for the university newspaper was a clear, detailed brief – which I now know makes a writer’s job 100x easier.
Understanding what someone is expecting to see from you, and what information you need to deliver, is fundamental to the success of your copy.
Even when you’re dealing with something as simple as word count, a clear understanding of what the client or editor wants to see is essential to meeting expectations and delivering copy that’s fit for purpose.
#5 Show your research
Adding relevant facts and statistics into your copy lends authority to the story you are telling. This is a great way to build the reader’s confidence in what they are reading and can make it a lot more compelling.
My old article was about spending the summer at a camp in the US, but I didn’t give any hard facts to provide greater context to what I was saying.
To make it stronger, I could have included some figures from a genuine authority on the subject. For example, I might have said:
- Camps employ more than 1.5 million staff to work in various positions
- Each year more than 14 million children and adults attend US camps
- Camp is an $18 billion industry
This would have helped me convey just how much of a cultural institution summer camps are in the US, building interest in the world I was going into, and creating intrigue about how I would handle this new world as a Brit.
Practice makes perfect
One of the biggest things I’ve learned at Radix is that nobody becomes an amazing copywriter overnight; invariably it takes time and practice.
I’ve had four weeks to experience what being a professional copywriter is like, but Radix suggests that it can take at least two years for a writer to consistently deliver the high quality that they expect to provide for their clients.
I’ve gained a lot of new insight that I’ll carry with me into the start of my professional career, but I know that, really, my learning and development as a writer will never truly end.
It’s been an extremely valuable experience for me, and I hope that this post has helped you learn a little bit about how to improve your B2B writing too. So, keep these tips in mind when tackling your next project and you’ll be well on your way to powerful, engaging copy.