1. Write like you’re talking to a friend (and remember you’re writing for another human)
2. Keep your ideas clear and concise
3. Customise your pitch to the client
B2B (business-to-business) writing is sometimes thought of as B2C’s staid sibling… but the reality of B2B writing is that it’s a lot more varied and interesting than people tend to give it credit for.
Crafting B2B content helps writers hone their research skills, encourages a punchy, succinct writing style and is all about meticulous attention to detail.
Even better? B2B writing provides not one, but two, extremely rare and sought-after gems for a freelancer: 1) it typically pays a decent per project (or hourly rate) and, 2) you can often expect a steady stream of regular work for a client, brand or company. Crafting B2B content might include a whole range of projects, like writing newsletters, white papers, case studies, press releases, annual reports, blog posts, sales copy and much more.
So, how do you format and write a B2B pitch that’s snappy… not snoozy? Read on for some expert tips and advice to make your B2B pitch stand out from the crowd.
- Write like you’re talking to a friend (and remember you’re writing for another human)
One common criticism you’ll often hear regarding B2B writing is that it’s – ahem – kind of dull. Just because you might need to include technical language or are writing about a serious topic (healthcare, financial services, telecomms), that doesn’t mean you can’t imbue your pitch with emotion.
“The biggest misconception is that everything must be functional and devoid of personality and tone. Most of the language used in B2B fails to resonate with audiences because it’s written for business and not for humans. If it’s not memorable or engaging, then why should I care?” explains Nick Watmough, creative director at B2B consumer experience agency, The Croc.
A lot of the time, Watmough sees B2B writing that’s “over-technical, over-explained and usually over the word count.” He urges writers to think beyond commodity-focused messaging (e.g. “faster, cheaper, better”) to find an emotional way to connect people to products and services.
Threading subtle humour into your pitch is one way to do this. Watmough also recommends starting the pitch off with a universal truth or compelling product insight, something The Croc’s team does to differentiate itself from other B2B agencies.
One way to avoid a robotic writing style is to write the pitch as if you’re speaking to a friend. Not sure how to do that? You might find using pen and paper encourages you to adopt a more natural writing style that flows, advises Watmough. Or, try using the Notes app on your smartphone, which will keep you focused on getting your ideas down, rather than obsessing over grammar and spelling, which could make your writing style more stilted.
Formatting your pitch in a reader-friendly way can also help strong writing get across succinctly and powerfully, according to digital marketer and writer Abbey Pallett, of Abitha Digital.
“Don’t be afraid to use bullet points – B2B decision makers are often super busy and don’t actually have the time or attention span to read lots of pages of a Word document or slide decks that are too long. As long as all the information they need to see is there, you’ll be fine,” she notes, adding that her clients also appreciate it when she uses analogies in her B2B pitches.
- Keep your ideas clear and concise
When it comes to writing B2B pitches, there are no hard and fast rules to follow when it comes to length or format. Although Watmough encourages writers to laser in on one main idea to grab – and keep – the client’s attention.
“You only get one shot at a pitch, so keep the work and writing focused on a core idea to hold your client’s attention. In a pitch situation, there’s no room for woolly thinking. If it’s not crystal-clear, then it’s out. The worst thing you can do is confuse the client with a load of waffle,” explains Watmough.
This doesn’t mean you should feel restricted in your writing; in fact, Watmough always likes the start a pitch by giving as much creative freedom as possible. Following too prescriptive a formula could stymie creativity.
“Approach every brief with an open mind because if you start off too narrow, it restricts the thinking, and the ideas don’t flow,” he says.
Another rule of thumb Watmough likes to stick to when crafting a B2B pitch is remembering that “it always helps if you keep the deck and narrative succinct.”
Make sure there’s a strong narrative thread running through the pitch, which is linked to the main creative concept – this is key in B2B writing, where clients often need to see the rationale behind the creative idea in order to understand the overall concept. Underpinning big ideas with sound strategy is a key component of what makes a B2B (and B2C) pitch memorable.
You also want to avoid using overly complex language or jargon that might confuse your readers, advises copywriter Dee Primett, of Wicked Creative: “Remember that even among a B2B audience, you can’t guarantee that everyone has the same level of knowledge about the topic you are writing about. So if you use any unusual terminology or jargon, you still need to explain it.”
- Customise your pitch to the client
B2B copywriters often talk about customer “pain points” – specific problems facing their customers – so offering solutions to those pain points in your pitch is something many B2B writers recommend.
Pallett, of Abitha Digital, also finds that paying attention to little details can set your pitch apart from the rest, as well as giving the client a better idea of what the finished product could look like. For example, you could structure a pitch in the format of the job required: if you’re going to be copywriting or designing a website, then try putting your pitch in a wireframe or mockup.
“Have a look at what their competitors are doing and identify what they do well and poorly in comparison. Leverage what you find for ways to stand out in the market,” Pallett adds.
Including some relevant stats or quotes in your pitch can show clients you’ve done your research, and make sure you understand the brand voice and that comes across in the pitch, too.
Nailing your brief is also crucial – if your concept is amazing but irrelevant, you haven’t done your job.
“Something might appear well written at first glance and probably contains all the correct information, but you must be honest and question whether you would read it. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and challenge the brief – because that’s when the work will get more interesting,” says Watmough.