So, What Exactly Is Business-to-Business Copywriting?

Will Newman

I’m calling this week's essays of The Writer's Life Business-to-Business week. I’m doing that after interviewing our special guest this week, master B2B copywriter Steve Slaunwhite.

In the interview, Steve spoke a lot about B2B and the opportunities it offers to both new and veteran copywriters.

Tomorrow we'll hear directly from Steve, but for today's issue, I want to give you a little more info on exactly what B2B is and why it has great potential for writers like you seeking the writer’s life.

An eagle’s view of Business-to-Business copywriting

Since you’re here with us in The Writer's Life, you know about direct marketing copywriting. Most people think about copywriting selling products and services to consumers like you and me. And much of it does. This is called Business-to-Consumer copywriting.

But B2B has an important difference. It doesn’t sell to consumers. If you’re a B2B copywriter, you write sales and marketing materials for a business to sell its products or services to other businesses.

As I write this, I’m using a combination iPad keyboard/case. I bought it from NT, the “manufacturer.” NT emailed me a sales promotion. So, all its advertising and marketing materials are geared toward convincing people like me to buy.

Think about the parts that go into these keyboard/cases. Hard plastic for cases. Integrated circuits for keyboards. Solder and soldering equipment for circuits. Aluminum for swivel brackets. Clear plastic for screen protectors. Retail packaging and printing. And on and on.

Every step along the manufacturing chain, one business to had to sell products to another business. This is B2B!

And in making those sales, they use an astonishing range of marketing communications … web pages, brochures, emails, DM letters, and much more.

A huge variety of marketing materials fuel the B2B industry. And much of the sales materials are short form! (That’s why I wish I’d known about B2B when I started out.)

And it’s an enormous industry. According to the Business Marketing Association, B2B companies spend more than $85 billion annually on marketing … in the U.S. alone.

Who does all this B2B writing?

If you’re getting into B2B copywriting, you might work with three types of companies.

The first type sell products … including software, industrial components, computer hardware, office furniture, forklift trucks, packaging supplies … and more.

Then, millions of B2B companies provide services to other businesses: law firms, consulting firms, trainers, seminar companies, office cleaners, accountants, business advisers, just to name a few.

Finally, some B2B companies cater to both consumers and businesses. Hotels, for example, sell accommodations to vacationers as well as meeting rooms and conference facilities to businesses. Real estate companies, insurance firms, and even golf resorts fall into this category.

You can see why this really wide array of products, types of companies, and types of marketing materials would have appealed to me twenty years ago when I was taking my first baby steps into copywriting.

From where I stand now, this niche looks pretty darn appealing.

Come on back tomorrow when Steve reveals his #1 Secret for B2B success. Until then, let me know in the comments below what you think of the B2B niche and the opportunities it might hold for you.

Modern B2B Copywriting

Modern B2B Copywriting

Learn everything you need to know to succeed as a B2B copywriter from marketing your services to writing copy and everything in between. Learn More »

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Published: March 9, 2016

7 Responses to “So, What Exactly Is Business-to-Business Copywriting?”

  1. Dear Will / Steve, Thanks so much for your insights and look forward to the rest.
    I am an active copywriter working in the architectural niche.
    You have sparked an interest in me to explore a shift to B2B. I know the architectural and real estate worlds from personal experience and am well aware of what architects need to know about products they specify in designing buildings.
    If you have any opinions about the niche of B2B building suppliers I would appreciate any advice you have.


  2. Will, thank you for your informative and interesting columns, I enjoy them.

    I am now in my third week of the accelerated training program.

    I have a strong background in business sales, training and conducting seminars. I owned my own consulting business to the retail auto business for over 20 years.

    The B2B niche is where I want to go. What should I be doing right now and when I finish the course to best prepare myself for success in B2B?

    My goal is to be generating some revenue by May 1, 2016.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Steve Harding

  3. Hi Will

    Thanks for the last 3 articles I have received from you! They were awesome for as I am a beginner and trying to learn the ropes of this trade. I believed B2B niche holds vast potential and opportunities for wannabes like me. I am very much interested to learn as much I can in this career. Thanks vey much again.



    Guest (Nitz)

  4. Hello Newman,

    I am yet to complete my AWAI's copywriting course which I have taken seriously now and would probably complete in another two months and may be if luck favours me, I will write my first real paid copy in the next three months. As it is, I want to wait for these three months before subscribing to another course mainly due to time constraints and the fear of losing the focus.

    But I would definitely get into it in due course.

    Thanks/ Regards

    Guest (Krishnan Venkatasubbu)

  5. Yeah, B2B writing looks appealing - until you contact these companies and they tell you, "Thanks but our in-house writers handle all our marketing needs." Or "Our agency does all our writing for us." Or "We've worked with freelancers before and it didn't work out."

    Yes, many companies use B2B writing, but opportunities for freelancers are not as "endless" as Will makes out here. The reality is, it's very hard to find companies who have enough writing work that they regularly use freelancers.

    Rob Lindsay

  6. Rob, it takes hard work and determination to launch any business, regardless of the market demand. When I started, I prospected an average a 100 companies a week. It took me six months to get my first two clients. (And that was in the '90s when prospecting was a lot tougher.)

    There may be many reasons why you're not getting traction with your prospecting efforts. It could be the type of companies you're targeting, your approach, your website, etc. Email me. I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

    Steve Slaunwhite

  7. Hi Will. I was curious as to what B2B was now I know. I do like the idea of B2B and I enjoy writing information articles on self improvement. But short form copy sounds like it would be a good match.Thank you for your insight. John W

    Guest (wardgilmore)

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