What is “Good” B2B Marketing Copy? – Part 2

In my last post, I told you about the bane of copywriters everywhere — the dreaded rock fetch game.

I talked at length about how it usually derives from opinion, the absence of data, or confusion between transactional and relationship marketing.

I also talked about how it can ruin your life as a freelancer. Can you imagine spending weeks, going back and forth with your client in an attempt to find that copy that’s “perfect” for the job?

Okay, I’m exaggerating about it ruining your life. But you get the picture.

But there’s a strong litmus test for identifying good B2B relationship marketing copy. I hinted at it in the last post. Did you catch my hint? I’ll spell it out.

Relationship ​B2B marketing copy is good when salespeople use it to sell.

You thought that marketing copy was always used for, well, marketing? In many companies, it isn’t used directly for marketing. It’s used to help salespeople build relationships.

And that puts a new spin on what you’ll do with your days. You’ll help people sell. What you produce — data sheets, web copy, presentations, email newsletters, and so on — must support the B2B salesperson.

Any relationship salesperson wants to be authoritative, problem-solving, and always addressing prospect needs. He or she wants to be a “trusted advisor.”

I’ve referred in the past to marketing copy as the “WD-40 of the sales cycle.” Many relationship sales cycles take weeks or months to move to completion. Your writing — in data sheets, case studies, white papers, newsletters, emails, and video scripts — accelerates the sales cycle. Salespeople use your work to keep things moving.

That puts a radically new spin on your relationship with your client. You’ve probably been thinking that your client, the marketing manager, primarily wants to market directly to prospects and customers. In some cases, they do. But in many cases, they market through sales enablement — using salespeople to deliver their messages and tools.

So your marketing manager client often has at least two audiences to please — prospects and salespeople. And in many businesses, the most vocal and needy audience is the sales team.

That means your job may become making the sales team happy.

So here’s an obvious chance for you to sidestep the rock fetch game. Make it clear that you’re there to help the sales team.

To support sales, one of the quickest paths to success is asking your client, “What does your sales team use to sell?” You’re looking for the successful messages, deliverables, and tools salespeople use in the field.

By benchmarking what you write against highly utilized, effective messages, storylines, and frameworks, you have a better chance of delivering copy and content that actually works for your client.

This is like keeping a direct mail swipe file. With a swipe file, you use tested promotions and letters that delivered success. In relationship marketing, if your client’s sales team is using a data sheet or a white paper over and over again, that’s the mark of success.

Saying “this is what the sales team uses and wants” lets you sidestep a lot of distraction. That gives you a foundation for building “good copy” with your client. It also lets you trump wild speculation and opinion that can derail your hard work.

You can ask questions like:

  • Is this project mainly used to empower sales?
  • What are your sales teams saying to customers?
  • Are your sales teams saying something that hasn’t been added to marketing yet?
  • What tools do your sales teams use? Can you get me examples?
  • Are the messages in these tools the right ones?
  • Do you want to make these messages stronger?

But many clients want to push their sales teams in a new direction. That puts you in an enviable position of bridging the gap. In other words, you’re in a good position to take your client in a new direction by asking a different set of questions.

I have a call with a client this afternoon to move a project forward. The client has a solution in-market but wants it to become more successful. I’ll be asking questions like:

  • What should the sales force be saying about this?
  • What is the competition saying about this?
  • What’s the most important thing you’re salespeople should say?
  • How do we bridge the gap from old messages to new?
  • In your opinion, what’s the most impactful thing your salespeople say today?
  • What should we avoid saying?

By aligning your copy to salespeople’s needs, you can sidestep some of the rock fetch game nonsense by keeping your work tightly aligned to what is valued by marketing’s main audience.

There’s another benefit too. This approach highlights your value to the client. It paints you as a "big picture" thinker, a trusted advisor rather than just a writer. And that's incredibly important to your client.

Has anyone encountered other ways to sidestep the rock fetch game? Please share them in the comments so we'll benefit.

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Published: September 14, 2012

1 Response to “What is “Good” B2B Marketing Copy? – Part 2 ”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article: I really enjoyed reading it.

    Copywriters are creatives who are entrusted with the responsibility of selling products or/and services to clients or customers.

    Ideally, copywriters and salespeople should work together.

    Staying confined to "cubicle farms" does not help anybody in the long run.

    Conducting brainstorming sessions and soliciting feedback can help you write better copy.

    You need to stay close to the customer and be responsive to their needs.

    Through surveys and questionnaires and personal interviews you can find out what is in demand with your target audience.

    Archan Mehta

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