Business-to-Business Prospects are People Too

Just as companies don’t write direct-mail packages, they don’t read mail either. But somehow, when we talk about business-to-business (B-to-B) mail, it’s easy to focus on the “business” aspect and forget that despite their titles, job functions and career goals, your B-to-B prospects are people too.

So while your message will be different, the same emotional tactics that work on business-to-consumer (B-to-C) prospects often will work in the B-to-B realm.

Nancy Harhut, senior vice president/executive creative director for agency Hill Holiday Direct, offers up a number of emotional levers that will help you effectively reach out to B-to-B prospects:

  • Eliminate the risk of responding by leveraging a powerful guarantee.
    “If you aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll refund the entire price – including shipping and handling.”

  • Make the reader feel singled out.
    “You are invited to a most unlikely gathering. Nothing quite like it has happened in over 200 years.”

  • Reveal “confidential” information.
    “The letter your direct-marketing competitors don’t want you to read.”

  • Flaunt your third-party endorsements.
    “Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Jay Walker. They all read this magazine. Do you?”

  • Build a message around specific things you know about the prospect.
    “A very special invitation, only for readers of WMW! Archive Insider.”

  • Strike an emotional chord.
    “If God created the heavens and earth in seven days, why does a buckslip have to take 12 weeks?”

  • Use specifics, such as numbers, response rates and percentages.
    “Follow these 10 steps to create professional direct mail.”

  • Play on their fears.
    “One of your biggest customers is thinking about leaving you right now.”

  • Flatter them.
    “You are fully aware of your financial status. You’re secure. You’re in control.”

In the end, it goes back to that basic rule: know your prospect. Just remember that business buyers are making both a personal decision and a business decision. So when writing B-to-B copy, you’ll need to address the needs of the individual and the needs of the business.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: April 11, 2007

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