Apr 29, 2011

The 3 Most Important Rules in B2B Marketing Copy

Being recognized by Gartner on one of their Magic Quadrants is the dream of most technology firms today. However, if a B2B marketer sees his or her favorite marketing copy phrase on the “Richards’ Quadrant,” they should run and hide.
In “A War of Enlightenment Against Marketing Jargon,” Hunter Richards, Accounting Market Analyst and blogger for Software Advice, has put a few meaningless and overused marketing phrases on a Gartner-like quadrant that clearly categorizes the jargon many B2B marketers are inclined to use.

Regardless of the education-level of one’s audience, effective marketing communication requires the use of clear, common words that everyone easily understands. As Richards’ chart demonstrates, big words, lingo, jargon or complex phrasing represses meaning [...]
The key to good written communication (in marketing and even in business emails or letters) is to always speak to the lowest common denominator. If there is any chance that a message might be read by someone at a prospect company who does not know what TOC is, then it’s safer to spell the words out the first time the phrase appears in the copy. That also goes for ROI, SFA, CRM, ERP and dozens of other B2B acronyms. Reading B2B marketing messages should be easy, not hard work.

B2B marketers should not write much differently than they would speak if sitting across the desk from a prospect.

Here are some rough ideas on how complex phrasing that diminishes communication could be replaced with plain, basic English:

Don’t Say: Optimize workflow.
Say: Get more done faster.

Don’t Say: Enable productive people and processes.

Say: Give your teams the tools to do more with less effort.

Don’t Say: Enhance insight and decision making.
Say: Get the information you need to make profitable decisions.

I’ve never gone as far as to use the word optimize (unless it was part of a client’s tag line). But observers may see a random “seamless” or “robust” in some of my copy in the past. That’s why Richards’ chart is so valuable. We all need to keep reminding ourselves that our job as B2B marketers is to get the message across, not to show off.

Remember, the three most important rules in B2B marketing copy are: communicate, communicate, communicate.