In a river of repetition, what will readers hit?
What if an angler drops a line in the river with something new, fresh and tasty on their hook, would that give them an edge? If they know where the fish are, then yes.
But when it comes to messaging, content and sales copy, business-to-business (B2B) tech marketers all seem to be shopping at the same bait shop.
For example, take this somewhat hypothetical line, which, in some form, gets used over and over by tech copywriters:
High-Tech Enterprises provides seamless integration across all platforms to provide best-in-breed results.
While that may be true, there are at least a few reasons why generic copy like this doesn’t hook readers.
· It’s about the company, not the reader.
· It doesn’t differentiate you from the competition. Anyone can say this and too many do.
· It’s unemotional, and therefore, not memorable.
In other words, it’s using stale bait in an attempt to hook readers. If the reader can get seamless integration from anyone, what’s in it for the reader? What inspires them to take action?
1. Aspire to inspire with clarity
To hook B2B readers, be clear about what’s in it for them. Instead of your company being the hero—with all your latest and greatest whiz-bang tools—the reader is the hero because now they can benefit from your whiz-bang tools. Isn’t that a lot more exciting? It certainly can be to the reader.
Most B2B copy reads something like this:
HTE does this to solve that. HTE has what process engineers need.
Turn that on its head:
Your work or business life will improve dramatically if you use this specific HTE solution to solve a specific problem that’s been driving you nuts, creating massive friction, or leaking cash or productivity.
Making the reader the focus of the text creates an emotional bond, as does adding in the reader’s pain points.
2. Emotion is the hook. Deliver it with a story.
When a writer tells a fictional story, the reader roots for the hero. When you tell your brand story, you hook readers by getting them to root for themselves. And as the holder of the solution, you wield enormous power because you can emotionally engage them with the business and human benefits of your solution. How many B2B tech marketers are doing that? Not many. And that’s your opportunity.
A functional story has a heart and a head. Tech marketers are pretty good at the head part. Not so good at the heart part. No heart, no story, no engagement.
The heart of the story is not your company’s best-in-breed seamless integration. It’s in the pain points and the reader’s journey to wholeness through the benefits of your solution. So start there.
What are the symptoms of the struggle? Go ahead and write them down. Safety issues. Takes way too long. Too much complexity. Frustrating to use. Not reliable when you need it. Not consistent. Cheap to buy but costs too much to maintain and operate.
By relating to your reader’s struggles, you capture their heart by creating an emotional experience, which makes the message memorable and makes your brand memorable. If the reader knows you feel their pain, you’re on your way to hooking a lead.
Speak to the business benefits and add an emotional twist. For example,
Not compelling: HTE seamlessly integrates platforms and devices.
Sell a strong benefit: Instantly update hundreds—or thousands—of devices across platforms to save time, money and reduce administration frustration.
Avoid the temptation to sell everything at once about your solution. Hook readers by focusing attention. Spread the hooks out over different complementary messages and media. Leave them wanting more so they’ll follow your call to action for more information.
3. Humans need warmth
Voice and language are key to hooking readers and reeling in leads for your sales team. B2B marketers have a tendency towards dry marketing-speak or business-speak. While it’s deemed safe, it’s certainly not effective. In most cases it’s dehumanized. And fish don’t hit on lifeless bait.
Humans need warmth. Sales copy with a fresh personality and even a bit of attitude keeps readers engaged. The attitude is more of a sales attitude. It has to be positive. Take a page from the B2C marketing world. Be bold. Be clever. Be thought provoking. Use a voice that doesn’t lull the reader into a mild coma.
In a conversational way, describe the pain points and how your solution relieves the pain. How would you explain it to your dad? Or your neighbor? How would your sales team say it?
· Start sentences with a benefit. Instead of “HTE does this. HTE does that,” tell readers specifically how their life will improve with HTE’s solution. Humanize the message with a pain point.
Too literal: HTE solutions help save time and money.
Sell the business and human factors: Now you can save time, money and reduce administration headaches with HTE’s solution.
· Color the writing for engagement and absorption. Get them to take the whole bait so they’re hooked. If you give them an excuse to nibble, they’ll move on to another message.
· Be clear about the pain points and be clear about how your solution eases the pain.
But Wait. There’s More!
Of course, clarity, story, language and voice are just some aspects of hooking B2B tech readers.
· Target specific audiences. Barney Rubble and Thurston Howell III have different perspectives and require a different voice, language and content.
· Use active voice, active verbs and speak directly to the reader with “you” and “your,” which are much more engaging and conversational than writing in the third person.
· Avoid preaching or telling readers what they should do or think.
From Bland to Grand
Hook readers by combining clarity, emotion and story. The three elements work together to attract and hold attention.
But going from bland to grand might be tricky. Some B2B writers struggle with a conversational, engaging voice. B2C copywriters can help break out of the stale bait box but may not understand technology well enough to sell it in writing.
The trick is to find a B2B tech writer who can deliver the clarity, story angles and emotional language appropriate to your solution, service, product and brand voice.
Do you want to hook readers?
Contact Mark Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs and aspirations for hooking B2B tech readers with copy that motivates.