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Ten tips for writing B2B ads

Dan Jönsson Copywriter August 11, 2020

Advertising is advertising. Copy is copy. Isn’t it? Sandberg Trygg has been producing technology marketing material for decades—we know there are clear differences from consumer advertising. We searched through our archives and found ten tips from our predecessors that still apply when writing copy for professional purchasers.

  1. Most of what you’ve learned about the art of writing doesn’t apply to technology marketing. You have to learn to condense large amounts of complex information into a few simple words. You have to go over every line you write and eliminate all but the most essential words
  2. Your readers read fast. They won’t bother re-reading a long, complicated sentence. It’s easier to turn the page than search for data in a muddy text. Say it clearly, say it simply, say it quickly.
  3. Writing ad copy about a $2 ice cream bar is a whole different ball of wax than writing copy about a $10 million computer system. You can’t count on many impulse buys when you’re selling manufacturing equipment. When a company invests in equipment and systems, it is tied to that investment for a long time. If the purchase doesn’t live up to its promises, they can’t throw it away, devour it in one sitting or toss it in the freezer and forget about it. Their entire existence as a business depends on the efficiency of what you’re selling. You may be able to hypnotize a customer by shouting loud and long enough, but as soon as the product is delivered, that brainwashing is over and one of two things happens: Either the product works as expected, or you promised too much and you can kiss that customer goodbye. And not only them, but many others—rumors spread quickly in this business.
  4. Too many superlatives, excessively broad generalizations and too much focus on secondary product qualities can have a negative effect. The customers know their stuff. It only takes one inexpert, exaggerated or naive statement to lose their interest and make them turn the page.
  5. Write simply and straightforwardly. Keep as close to spoken language as possible. Elegant formulations, essay prose, poetry or literary style just don’t cut it when you’re selling manufacturing equipment.
  6. Write directly for your customers. True, they are only some of the people who will see the ad. And of course it’s nice if others read your copy. But even so—always write solely for the purchaser or someone with direct influence on purchasing. Forget any other readers.
  7. The company’s marketing manager almost always has a limited budget. Ads are primarily meant to sell the company’s products. And usually this advertising is also the best brand-building advertising. The traditional type of brand-building advertising is rarely profitable, given the narrow, limited markets for most manufacturing equipment. If a company wants to do charity work, there are better ways than using the advertising budget. And if the company hopes its advertising will facilitate recruiting qualified employees or boosting its stock value, there should be a separate budget for that. The advertising budget is normally administered by the marketing department, so it should also be used to create sales results.
  8. Advertise goods and services, not products and technical finesses. Associate the brand and product with specific benefits. The company may have made noteworthy technological advances, but they don’t belong in the advertising unless they directly benefit the customer.
  9. Avoid meaningless, boring, tiresome advertising language. Words like unique, unrivaled, revolutionary and powerful are so overused that they are completely meaningless. Avoid comparative words when you aren’t actually comparing with anything. Base your copy on data, honesty and common sense.
  10. Address one reader at a time. Your reader is sitting alone at their desk, concentrated on their work – there’s no reason to shout. The reader is a specialist, an expert in an industry that needs the product you are selling, and it is likely that they know more about how to use it than you do.