B2B copywriters in high demand

Karen Gedney, a ClickZ columnist, predicted five years ago that “the Internet was going to lessen the demand for copywriters.” However, she is finding her inbox is jammed, and her phone ringing off the hook, due to B2B clients wanting her services.

After attending the recent ClickZ Specifics: Email conference, she wrote an article, “Help Wanted: B2B Copywriters” where she stated a number of reasons why B2B copywriters are in high demand. I’ve listed two of them:

More is expected of B2B marketers than ever before – You must offer white papers and case studies to build credibility for your company and to use as offers for your online and offline marketing efforts.

The need for content is unrelenting — There are so many more ways to communicate than ever before including Webinars, podcasts, blogs, and online video, as well as those labor-intensive e-newsletters. And because marketing departments have to plan, budget and execute all these communications, there’s no time to actually write copy in-house.

I would also add that companies are now waking up to the fact that B2B copywriting is indeed a real skill, one that can’t be left to junior copywriters. Due to the Internet, marketers can now track results of almost all their marketing programs — making everyone, copywriters included, accountable.

(When I first started out in marcom, you would write a brochure, print up thousands, and then send them out, never knowing if the brochure resulted in leads or sales.)

Today’s B2B copywriter, therefore, needs to know how to combine Web and print copywriting strategies.

A person writing a case study, for example, has to take into account that the piece will be printed and offered as a PDF.

The copy has to be easy to scan online (no dense paragraphs, lots of bullets, attention-getting heads and sub-heads) while offering meaty copy that expertly tells the company’s story for detailed reading offline.

In order to increase viral pass-along, the copy has to be engaging — and written in plain English so that everyone influencing the purchase understands it.
Most important, it has to help generate leads.

And, it’s not enough to write the case study. The copywriter has to write the promo blurb that compels people to click on the case study and download it. In addition, he or she may have to write the direct mail letter with the case study as the offer, and/or the banner ad and landing page if it’s being used in an online promotion.

I agree with Gedney. The Internet has only increased the complexity and types of projects copywriters are now expected to write. At least that’s been my experience.
What do you think?

Five Golden Rules for Job Success

An old client posted an article on his site a few years back titled, “Guerilla Product Management: 17 Golden Rules for Achieving Success on the Job.

I recently found it while doing research for a newsletter I write. You can find the entire article here, but you’ll have to submit your email address for it.

Although the advice is geared toward product managers, anyone can read it and learn from it. So, because I don’t make New Year’s resolutions (who wants to give up mocha almond fudge ice-cream in order to lose a few pounds anyway?), I thought I’d post a few of his “golden rules” here — but edited for B2B marcom types who want to write better copy.

Rule 5 — Do research — all the time. The world is your lab. Make time to sit in the call center and listen to how orders and complaints are handled. Watch customers use your products. Read industry publications. Look at one competitor’s Website every week to see what they’re doing. Understanding your market is one of the most important skill sets you can cultivate.

Rule 7 — Get a thick skin. When you get negative feedback on your copy, instead of getting defensive, ask what idea the person is trying to communicate and why the copy isn’t working.

Rule 9 — Show your enthusiasm all day long — for your job and for your products. I live by David Ogilvy’s creed: “There are no boring products, only boring writers.”

Rule 12 — Take a hike. Get out of your office. Go to the gym. Write a poem. Paint a picture. Do yoga. As writers, we need serious downtime in order to recharge. Make the time to unwind, no matter how busy you are.

Rule 17 — Build a community. Whether you work for a company or on your own, build a community of people who support you, challenge you, and feed you new ideas. We like to think writing is done in isolation, but it’s not. Without new ideas — and the people to share them with – writers and marketers are dead meat.