In conducting “inventory” of new or potential clients’ marketing collateral and Web sites, there are some universal mistakes that many firms seem to make. There are also some pretty universal tips for writing copy in the B2B marketing space (and most likely beyond B2B).

As a rule of thumb, if your wording seems pretty ambiguous even to you, it’s certainly not going to connect with your prospects.  It’s important to be specific and use words you can prove with data.  Here are some of my favorite ambiguous buzzwords and phrases that we have found in researching client competitors!

  • Leading provider
  • State of the art solutions
  • Extraordinary
  • Award-winning
  • Technical excellence
  • Quality service
  • Serving the industry since 19xx (unless it’s a significant number – at least over 50 years)
  • Innovative solutions

What these have in common is that none are quantifiable and as such, don’t really add much value to your copy.  Almost any firm could use the same wording because these words and phrases don’t commit to much of anything.  With so much information available readers want to get to the point. They want to know quickly “what’s in it for me?” and “how can ‘X’ solve my problem?”  Give your readers the information they need, concisely and let them know where they can find more detail.

Some tips for writing copy that speaks to your audience and gets your firm’s most important points across:

  1. Begin with a clear purpose.  What is the most important piece of information that you want to convey?  What do you want them to know about you?  Let that be your first goal.
  2. Avoid “marketing-speak” and empty, worn-out buzzwords.  Rather, write in clear and direct terms.  Ask yourself the right questions.  How are you different than your competitors, what do you offer that is better than anyone else?  Think about specific, quantifiable examples of client successes.
  3. Write in second person.  Addressing your audience helps to connect and convey that the focus is on them.  You don’t have to be overly informal, but speak directly to your audience in a conversational tone.
  4. Use specific examples.  Don’t try to please everyone or your writing will be too general and will not resonate with anyone. Decide your ideal client and write to their needs.
  5. Address reader’s pain points.  Think about your audience. What specific root problems are they looking to solve and how can you help?
  6. Break up blocks of text.  Use short, effective headings or bolding the most important points.
  7. Move the reader toward a solution or the next action.  For example, refer them to additional information or how they can get in touch with you.
  8. Keep in mind key words, especially when writing for Web.  Think about if someone were to search for your firm, what are the words they would search, and integrate these into your copy to increase optimization for organic searches.
  9. Avoid being overly wordy.  A reader might be interested in knowing some company history, for example, but make it concise enough for them to grasp and come away with the knowledge you want them to remember.  Too much information often clouds the most important points.
  10. Summarize at the end.  Let the audience know what you told them and give contact information if they want to know more.  Include the what, when, who, how, and why.

Knowing your audience and your business (from your reader’s perspective) is key to writing great copy.  Please share any additional tips or any marketing jibber jabber that drives you nuts!