Ten ways that B2B marketing copy goes wrong

B2B Marketing copywriting: ten mistakes

Let’s face it, most B2B copywriting is not very good.  Here are ten reasons why:

1. Not being clear about what you want your audience to do.
All good writing starts with this and all bad writing doesn’t.

2. Not being clear about why they should do it.
You just need three powerful reasons.

3. Not saying why they should believe you.
Support your reasons with facts and logic.

4. Failing to take a view.
Good writing starts with a clear world view and an opinion about the issues the reader cares about. “The world is like this. That’s why you need our widget.”

5. Not doing your homework.
Lazy writing is bad writing. Research pays dividends.

6. Putting on your ‘writer’s voice’.
This is a killer. Forget your writing voice, use your speaking voice.

7. Failing to structure your ideas.
Good writing takes people on a trip. Structure is the path.

8. Treating your audience like a decision-making robot.
B2B buyers are human beings first. Lighten up.

9. Being too abstract.
Good copy is concrete and specific, uses an active voice and uses the second person (you) a lot.

10. Being a wuss.
Good writing is confident. Bad writing lacks the conviction that it’s worth reading. So it isn’t.

Any other causes of bad B2B copywriting you’d like to share?


Photo: Flickr Creative Commons: Forbidden Emotions


Great post. For me, the most critical is “too abstract”. Specific copy is so much better.

I think 1 often occurs due to a lack of a content architecture and strategy. If you know what piece does what job, for who, in what stage of the buying cycle, it’s easier to focus a specific piece of content.

Some additional favourites of mine:

1. Burying the lead- you hide the goal/payoff from the user, failing to get their commitment to read.

2. Too much generic logic. “Over the last few years competitive pressure has made it critical for companies to do more with less…

3. Too many ideas. Usually a single message comes across stronger.

4. Having too many audiences/Not knowing your audience- e.g. the case for using buyer personas and the like. Too much B2B copy is written to explain the company, not the customer’s problem. Often this is a research problem- marketers don’t have access to the right sources, and their ‘research’ is all internal.

5. Not having flow and momentum. Good writing should flow like music.

Thanks Nick. Excellent additions to the list.

Too many audiences is a really common one. We’re often recommending splitting a piece that’s aiming at different audiences so we can be more specific and relevant to each.

When I get hired to write copy, it drives me nuts when they want me to put in a high jargon to useful information ratio 🙂 If you can’t explain it to your mother, then you don’t really understand it either.

    Yeah, nothing deadens copy faster than a clump of jargon.
    That ‘signal-to-noise’ ratio can be a killer.

Many thanks for posting this list. It is a very useful reference point for someone like myself who is just starting out in B2B Copywriting.

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