B2B writing, or business-to-business writing, is content created by one business for another business. This is in comparison to B2C writing, or business-to-consumer writing, where businesses are writing, or creating copy for consumers.
When a business has a need to purchase a product or service, it’s understandably going to be a much larger investment than if you or I as a consumer needs to buy something, right? Think software to power an entire business, or an entire digital marketing agency to improve sales.
As a result, there are many people involved in the decision, the decision process itself could take months even years, and there is a lot of legwork involved in integrating said software or onboarding said agency, etc.
Given all of that, you can imagine how a writer trying to sell another business on a new phone system and infrastructure must take a different approach than if they were trying to get a consumer to buy a baseball cap.
For example, a CRM software business’ target audience is going to be other businesses with a need to organize customer data and track customer interaction. Their B2B copy is going to be tailored to:
- Appeal to multiple decision makers
- Inform with stats and data
- Match a specific stage of the buyer’s journey
- Tell a story or provide multiple examples
- Use industry jargon and technical terminology
- Educate on pricing options, implementation, and more
- Be consumed and referred back to by the reader over multiple sittings
- Match a specific marketing channel
On the other hand, B2C copy is going to have a much different look and feel, with say a company trying to sell a baseball hat to an everyday consumer like you or me. Their copy is probably going to:
- Appeal to the reader, and the reader only
- Inform with visuals and light supporting copy
- Use more marketing fluff and buzzwords
- Quickly “sell” the consumer on the main features/benefits of the product
- Get the buyer to take action and purchase in the same sitting; “right now”
- Be used across multiple marketing channels
Breaking Down the Differences Between B2B & B2C Writing
Luckily, most of us have been both consumers and businesses (or representatives of businesses).
So put your consumer shoes on for a minute. What does your buying process look like?
You have a need, maybe it’s buying that new baseball hat. Your process isn’t going to be much more than:
- Search for a baseball hat online
- Find a baseball hat website
- Read baseball hat description
- Choose your baseball hat size
- Purchase baseball hat
This is as straightforward as it gets.
Taking a step back, what are your underlying needs as a consumer wanting to buy a hat?
- Fashion: You just want a new hat to look good! You bought some new shirts and you’d love to have a hat to match.
- Function: You’re going to a baseball game and need to block the sun/support your team.
- Gift: You have a friend who is a big baseball fan, and you think they’d love a new hat.
Given all of that, this is what typical B2C copy might look like:
The description isn’t much, but it doesn’t need to be. It matches a number of underlying needs, in very few words:
- Fashion: The picture describes more than any description ever could in terms of how the hat looks.
- Function: The hat has a bill to keep the sun away, and technology to keep you cool.
- Gift: It’s a “one-of-a-kind” hat featuring “a sweet” design. Your friend will love it!
This B2C copywriter understands that a consumer is simply looking for a hat, and will probably make their decision on price and availability.
Going back to the B2B CRM software example, the underlying needs are wide-ranging:
- Organization: First, they need a software product to solve the core need of customer data organization.
- Budget: But, they also need something that fits the amount budgeted for.
- Integration: And one that integrates with existing systems.
- Timeline: And can be implemented by the end of next quarter.
And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
Even so, there is no way a paragraph and a picture will suffice. Instead, you’ll see long-form copy as an eBook, whitepaper, email, etc. Typically, a shorter social media post won’t be able to convey all that’s needed, and even single blog posts will find difficulty.
In the end, B2B writing usually needs to be undertaken by a product expert; one who knows the ins and outs of the product, and/or has close working relationships with the departments that can assist in more of the detail.
B2C writing can be completed by a marketer, or someone brand new to the product who is willing to research. Thus, a writer looking for beginners jobs should stick to something in the B2C realm.
All of us are consumers, and can be familiar with a product or service without having any prior experience working for the company that created, or is offering, the product or service. It’s much easier to maintain confidence as a writer when applying for B2C jobs, and, your chances of success are much, much higher to boot.