How to Differentiate Yourself as a B2B Copywriter
Do you stand out from the crowd of other B2B writers and copywriters? Do prospects have a way to differentiate you from any other writer?
This is very important if you want to succeed as a B2B writer or a copywriter.
Let me tell you a story that illustrates my point …
I live in a small city of a couple hundred thousand people. Like most small cities, we have a weekend newspaper that highlights upcoming local activities. It also has a big real estate section.
If you flip through the pages of this real estate section, you'll see pages and pages with dozens of real estate ads on each page. Each of these ads has a picture of a real estate agent, claiming they're number one, and that they can sell your home faster than anyone else.
They all look exactly the same. They’re all making the exact same claims.
So unless there’s a particular Realtor you know, like, and trust, then it's very difficult to pick a Realtor in this town. They all present themselves in very much the same way. No one stands out.
I told this story to a friend of mine who lives in a different town. And he said in his town they have much the same issue.
But there's one Realtor who is different. In all his ads, there's a picture of him, but there's also a picture of his dog. So in his town, he's positioned as the real estate agent who's the dog lover.
Now, that would obviously appeal to people who have dogs, even to people who aren’t dog lovers. It’s very difficult not to like someone who likes dogs.
It makes him stand out from the crowd and get noticed because he's the only Realtor with a dog in his pictures billing himself as a dog lover.
So what does all this have to do with your success as a B2B copywriter?
Well, B2B is a specialty. So there is a sense in the marketplace that if you're a B2B writer, you already stand out a little bit. You have some extra skills and knowledge that general-purpose copywriters don’t have.
So billing yourself as a B2B copywriter will certainly help you stand out.
However, there are a lot of B2B writers and copywriters in the market. If you do a Google search for B2B copywriting, you'll find page after page of B2B copywriters.
So just saying you're a B2B copywriter is not enough to make you stand out from the thousands of other B2B writers and copywriters.
You don’t want to end up like those faces on the weekend newspaper where there's page after page of Realtors that all look the same. You want to be able to stand out.
In copywriting, this is called finding your differentiation. What is it about you that makes you different from other B2B copywriters? What is it that makes you stand out from the crowd and get noticed?
A Three-Step Process
In this article, I’m going to show you a process that will help you find your key differentiator. I'll also give you some tips on how to communicate that differentiation effectively so you stand out from other copywriters and get noticed.
#1. Brainstorm a List of Your Differentiators
Make a list of those things you think would differentiate you as a B2B copywriter. Brainstorm all the things that would make you seem different or unique or better or special compared to other B2B copywriters on the market.
And let me give you some categories to look at when you are brainstorming these possible differentiators …
One way to differentiate yourself is to be a specialist in a particular project type. Maybe you specialize in case studies, emails, or websites.
For example, for many years, Michael Katz specialized in e-newsletters for professional service companies. He stood out because he was known as the e-newsletter expert.
Are there some projects you could be known as a specialist in? Could you be the specialist in case studies or websites or emails or something like that?
Another way to differentiate yourself is by specializing in a particular industry or niche market. I know someone, for example, who specializes in working with accounting firms. That's all she does.
She writes websites, emails, and other marketing materials. She also has a service where she ghostwrites articles and books for accounting firms. And that makes her stand out in the marketplace.
So when the marketing director or the owner of an accounting firm is looking for a copywriter and searches on Google, they see hundreds of copywriters. When they find her and they realize she specializes in accounting firms, it makes her stand out immediately.
Target Audience Differentiation
This is where you focus on the type of markets your clients target. For example, one of my best clients is a company that targets Realtors and real estate agents.
Now, I don’t work directly with real estate agents. But I work with companies that target real estate agents. So it’s kind of a roundabout specialization. But if you’re a company that sells products and services to Realtors, you should talk to me because that's one of my niche markets.
Differentiation by Credentials or Experience
Do you have unique experience or credentials that make you stand out from other copywriters? Is there anything that's unique in your education or your past experience that you could bring to the table?
Think of things that would be meaningful to clients and that are a little bit different from what other copywriters offer.
For example, when Ed Gandia started his copywriting business many years ago, he had previously spent many years as a very successful software salesperson.
So when he became a copywriter, he differentiated himself by targeting software companies. He stood out from other copywriters because he was the software sales guy who turned into a great copywriter. And that resonated with his target market.
Differentiation by Brand Name
Another way you can do it is to create some kind of brand name or brand theme for yourself. This is a little bit different and a little bit risky. But it can work very well.
For example, I knew someone many years ago who billed herself as “The Farm Girl Copywriter.” And on her website, she had a picture of herself sitting on a tractor. And of course, she specialized in agribusiness and in companies that sell equipment and supplies to farms. So she differentiated herself in a couple of ways.
There's another copywriter who bills herself as the Red Hot Copywriter. She works with entrepreneurs in both B2C and B2B. And she has this blazing red hair. So it fits her brand completely. And it’s very memorable in many ways.
So if you can come up with some catchy brand phrase that's sticky, that captures people's imagination, and that’s really memorable, then that can work very well in differentiating yourself.
However, there's a risk. Coming up with a brand like that is almost like writing a song and hoping it's a hit. If your song doesn’t become a hit, then you’re doomed.
The same thing with your brand. You can come up with a fancy-sounding brand or a catchy brand. But, if it doesn’t work, then it’s a flop … So it’s a risky approach.
Differentiation by Personality
Another way to brand yourself is with personality. Remember the Realtor who is also the dog lover? He's trying to tie his brand to a particular personality trait … He's a dog lover.
I know a successful copywriter by the name of Amy Harrison. And she's really funny and quirky. She actually produces a series of YouTube videos about the adventures of a freelance copywriter.
And she's a very good and successful copywriter as well. But she uses her humor and her quirkiness as a way to brand herself. Her humor and her good nature is almost contagious when you get to her website. So she's using that as a way to brand herself.
So you might try branding yourself through your personality. Perhaps you are a curmudgeon and you insist on bottom line results. There are some people who brand themselves that way.
If that's truly the way you are, then perhaps you can use that as part of your brand and that will resonate with a certain segment of the marketplace.
Differentiation by Results
Another way to brand yourself is branding yourself through what you can do for your clients.
Now, this is risky, because if you brand yourself with the results you’re going to achieve for your clients, you'd better be able to achieve those results. So be very careful.
Dean Rieck is a very successful copywriter. On his website, he actually says, “I'm the copywriter to call when you want sales, not just words.”
So he's trying to differentiate himself from other copywriters by saying a lot of copywriters are very good writers, but he's the copywriter to call if you want your copy to actually sell.
Now, believe it or not, there aren’t that many copywriters who make that claim. So if you're very good at direct-response copywriting, or B2B lead-generation copywriting, or writing sales letters and emails, then that could be a way to brand yourself.
Differentiation by Process
Maybe there's some proprietary process you've created for yourself in the way you write copy that really works well for your clients. And you've put a special branding name on it.
I have a process that surprisingly has brought some clients to me. I put together a little booklet a couple of years ago about a special copywriting formula I created that's a variation on some standard copywriting formulas. I called it “The CLINCHER Copywriting Formula.”
And in fact, the CLINCHER is actually one of the steps in that formula. And a lot of new clients have called me and they said, “I've read your book on ‘The CLINCHER Copywriting Formula,’ and this is the kind of copy we want.”
It's a proprietary process I created for writing sales copy that works well. It’s not that much different than other process of writing copy. But I created a brand around it.
Differentiation by Fame
The final way to brand yourself is a way that's unachievable to most of us, especially if you’re starting your business. And that is to become famous.
You've probably seen some very famous copywriters who don’t seem to have any other kind of brand. They don’t specialize in a particular industry and they don’t do anything special. And yet, they're doing very well.
Well, the reason why they're doing well is they're well established. They're a brand. And they can get away without differentiating much because their name is so well-known.
There's only one Bob Bly, for example. So all he has to say is, “I'm Bob Bly,” and that's enough to differentiate him from other copywriters. Even people who know very little about copywriting know who Bob Bly is.
That may not be achievable for you yet at your particular stage in your copywriting business, but it's something to aspire to.
So those are some ways that you can differentiate yourself.
When you’re brainstorming ways to find your differentiator, think of all these different angles and see if you can come up with four or five different ways you could possibly differentiate yourself as a copywriter.
#2. Evaluate Your Differentiators
Take a look at your list and ask yourself, “Which of these differentiators will help make me stand out to my target market? Are any of these particularly memorable or meaningful to my target market and my clients?
For example, you may want to position yourself as the Red Hat Copywriter because on your website you wear a big red hat and you're known as The Red Hat Copywriter. That might work as a brand. It certainly would look different.
However, will that be meaningful to your target market? Will they see that as an advantage to talking to you? I don’t know; probably depends on your niche.
It’s something you need to think about and maybe something worth trying. But at least ask yourself if it would be meaningful to your target market.
Another way to figure this out is to ask some friends for feedback. If you've come up with a particular brand name, for example, ask some friends what they think of it, and what their impressions are.
And of course, any feedback from current clients could be very insightful because your clients already know what makes you different. They may be able to give you some very clear — even surprising — insights.
I know this takes some guesswork. Sometimes, you just have to go with the differentiator you think might work best for you. Then make that decision and move forward.
#3. Communicate Your Differentiation
Be bold about this. Make it loud and clear on your website, in your quotes and proposals, and in all your other marketing materials.
Because once you have that differentiation, you want to communicate it effectively and loudly. That's what's going to make you stand out from the sea of other potential copywriters out there on the market.
A couple of weeks ago, I did a workshop for a group of professional speakers. And I told them, “If you look the same as other speakers, then you’re doomed. It can be very difficult for you to succeed unless people notice your differences.”
The same is true for copywriters. Clients notice what's different about us. So decide what truly differentiates you in the marketplace.
And when you discover what that is, communicate it effectively. If you do that, then you'll stand out from the crowds. Clients will notice you.
And you'll have a much better chance of building your copywriting business or B2B writing business successfully.
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