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I feel your pain – the key to B2B Saas web content writing

It’s only when you fully understand the problem you’re solving for your buyer, that your B2B Saas copywriter can write persuasive and engaging web content that turns puzzled prospects into lively leads. Whether your prospect or reader is already in some sort of organisational pain or simply looking to seize an opportunity, you need to know what they’re up against – and your web content must reflect that.

B2B decision-makers are busy folk that tackle lots of problems in their daily working life.  Every day they sit down at their desk, there’s already plenty on their mind and even more on their to-do list.

Taking stock of the problem

For a moment, just think about all these small and big problems fighting for headspace in your buyer’s mind. If the problem your solution solves is a big one, you have a major natural advantage as there’s a good chance this problem takes up a lot of thinking time. If it’s smaller in scale, it’s important you know the order of the problem in the life of your buyer – so don’t overinflate. Otherwise, it will look like you have no idea of your reader’s working world.

When buyers look at your website or other marketing materials, they must know that you feel their pain, and you are the one who can cure it. Before you can develop engaging content and materials to do just that, you’ll need to fully take stock of the problem you’re solving for your customer.

A few questions to help you understand your buyer’s pain points…

  • Is it a big problem? Does this ongoing issue waste lots of time, money and resources for people in the business? Is it is a barrier to growth and obstacle to market development? Or maybe it’s just a bit annoying and lower down their list of priorities. You need to be in regular conversation with your target audience and existing customers. And when you are, ask the questions that help you understand the scale of the issue.  How much time? How often? What are the knock-on impacts of inaction? In your content, you might even be able to use an external fact, research finding, or proof that captures the essence of the problem.
  • Who does it impact? Does this issue make life painful for your decision-maker, their boss, their team, or simply all of the above? It might impact one person’s workload or performance – or the pain could be shared by many across more than one department. Figure out who stands to gain the most from your solution when it’s applied to their day-to-day working life. This will show that you fully appreciate any internal pressure your buyer is under.
  • What does the before and after look like? Let’s say you have a solution that automates and streamlines a process that is often done manually. And your buyer is enduring a tedious situation where spreadsheets are being manually collected, inputted and analysed. If your solution is an online admin tool that handles this automatically, this saves lots of time and hassle. If your before is chaos and your after is enhanced productivity, you need to demonstrate to your buyer that this is a journey you can take them on.
  • Do you talk about the pain the way they do? Every industry has its own jargon and vernacular, where words can mean different things than elsewhere.  When using jargon in your web content, make sure it’s essential and use just enough to show that you know the industry but not too much that you alienate any readers. It’s a fine line but definitely one that is worth treading cautiously.  

For Saas providers, well-written web content that shows an understanding of specific organisational challenges or opportunities, can build a connection with your prospects and customers based on empathy, insight and understanding. Once you have a comprehensive understanding of what the problem is and why it’s such a big issue, it’s only then you can truly say that you feel their pain.

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The Selling’s in the Storytelling – three steps to crafting your ideal B2B customer story

If you’re new to case-study writing or customer storytelling, it can be hard to know where to start. With this three-step process, you’ll learn how to create a story for your website or marketing materials that will help sell your B2B product or service with colour, conviction, and clarity. 

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1          Think

Ask yourself… do you have a story worth telling? And will your client be happy for us to tell it? Keep in mind that any tale you tell must talk about your best work or the best example of what you stand for.

Most of all, your story must be relatable to your primary decision-maker and if you want to grab their attention, you need to talk about something they really care about. Put yourself in their shoes and try and develop a clear picture of how you want to make your reader feel – right after they’ve finished reading it. Will they feel motivated to get in touch, impressed by your track record, wowed by your attention-to-detail? It’s impossible to be all things to all people so try and focus on one or two key messages or takeaways.

Your chosen story should also highlight any outstanding, head-turning results that can be quantified. If not, your reader may not be motivated enough to make the initial enquiry. Now that you’ve had a good long think and you’re happy that the tale you have in mind ticks all those boxes, you’ve already taken the first and probably hardest step.

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2          Talk

So, you’ve got a good story on your hands. Now you need to talk to the people who can help you bring it to life. Sales Reps and Account Managers are the obvious starting point. Great sales professionals are curious by nature and make it their business to know the inside story on every major purchasing decisions made by their customer. They’ll know customer motivations inside-out, and they’ll understand the key metrics and the KPIs that really matter.  

In technical sales, while your support engineers and technical teams may not actually sell the solution, they do play a huge role. In many cases, technical or engineering support is the main reason the deal is done in the first place – and will be the reason the contract gets renewed.  In high-tech or engineering sectors, you should never underestimate the strength of connection between your service teams and the client.

As a simple rule, where possible you should talk to anyone on your side who was in contact with anyone on their side. Every small detail, every ounce of insight you can gather, will all help to build up your story.

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3          Tell

It’s time to tell the story and get it down on paper. But before you type or write anything, try telling this story to a colleague over the space of a couple of minutes. Think of this as a dry run. You might feel a bit silly at first but this exercise will help you get a handle on how the story flows. This way, you’ll iron out any obvious knots or kinks before you start to write.

And by getting someone to listen to the story as stories have always been told, it will feel like you are bringing it to life. It’s only now that you need to put pen to paper.  The best way to start is to simply use the four famous headings as your foundation… Client, Challenge, Work, and Results. Yes – it does feel a bit boring or predictable but it will put the building blocks to your customer story in place.

Remember, once you have written up the first draft, you can always replace the four with more specific or active headings. For a little help with the writing bit, find out here how you can put together a case study in just 20 minutes.

Whether you’re a natural storyteller or not, by thinking carefully about how you’ve helped customers in the past, you can create future sales opportunities.  The selling really is in the storytelling…

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Copywriting help – how to write a case study in 15-20 minutes

 

Brace yourself. It’s not often you’ll hear a copywriter tell you this. But sometimes, you might just be better off preparing a marketing piece yourself. A case study is a fine example. If you are an owner-manager or a small SME, you know your customers very well. So well in fact, that you can list off all their project details in your head…with ease.

A powerful marketing tool for web or print, I’m pretty sure you use case studies all the time without meaning to. For example, when you’re out selling, you may reference old projects or how you have helped other clients. A case study is just a more polished, considered version of telling a new customer or prospective customer that you have a proven track record. So how do you approach it?

It’s time to tell the world about your success stories. Follow this four step guide and put your case studies down on paper.

Write down these four headings and fill in the right info

  • The client – start your story with a brief synopsis of who your client is and what they do. For example….GlobalX is the leading producer of widgets in Europe. Backed by a workforce of 5000, they produce blah for the blah….
  • The challenge – tell people why you were brought on board. What problems needed to be solved that only you could solve? For example…GlobalX noticed that more and more of their customers were choosing to buy online and they needed to design and implement a complete and customised ecommerce platform. Mention your previous track record and why you were a perfect fit for this project.
  • The work – enlighten your audience as to what’s involved in a project this size. This part of the story is about the nuts and bolts of the project. I realise you don’t want to give anything away, but speak in broad terms of the tasks and mini-projects required to put together a first-class solution.
  • The results – and this bit is your victory parade. If someone else has improved their business or increased profits or achieved major milestones because of you, it’s time to tell everyone. This is something to be proud of! Use numbers for real impact. For example…. Within six months of the new ecommerce system, sales increased by 75% and the new website has logged an average of 5,000 hits a week.

Case studies are about blowing your own trumpet. But when you’ve got something to shout about – why not? Use the above template to put together your case study and take no longer then 20 minutes. If you still want to polish it up and perfect it, perhaps then look for the help of a copywriter or content writer. Just like me!

Get in touch for a second opinion on your first draft.

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Stop writing boring B2B case studies! 6 questions to ask and answer honestly – before you pick up a biro

Imagine meeting someone who just told slightly different versions of the same story over and over againit would get very boring very quickly! And yet every day, identikit case studies are boring B2B buyers to tears on supplier websites in sectors like technology, engineering, and construction.

The case study is an outstanding marketing tool when used wisely and sparingly. So, before you plop down the four headings Client/Challenge/Work/Results on a brand new page, be honest with yourself.

Is this a story worth telling?

Knowing for sure if your work has made a big difference to a project or client is never easy. Because you were smack-bang in the middle of it all, it might well have felt transformative. And maybe it was. Whether it’s a niche job for a big name or a game-changing solution for an ambitious company, it must be a story worth telling. There’s a big difference between a story you want to tell and one that your reader wants to hear.

Is the story relatable to our primary decision-maker – will they care?

The story cannot just be about you and your solution. It has to be relatable.  Your readers must identify themselves in the story.  You want them to be thinking ‘That’s me – I had that problem or I know I will have that problem again real soon’. The hero in the case study story is not you – it’s your customer for choosing you. The challenge they are presented with needs to be common enough to strike a chord, but still require a high degree of expertise/creativity/technical excellence to solve it.

What do we want our reader to think right after they’ve finished reading it?

In a nutshell, you want them scrambling for their phone, hastily printing off, or sending the story to their boss for a second opinion. Your main messages must be coming through loud-and-clear. For example, if your target audience value specifics like say design, service, or installation, they must be absolutely convinced that your firm fits the bill, in those terms.

Most of the time, case studies are selling a ‘safe pair of hands’ and a ‘solid track record’, but this does not have to be boring. Think of your buyer pitching your services or solution to their boss. Now imagine how they can sell you if you give them something to shout about. Case studies are a guarantee that you have been there before. Your company has already faced this challenge head-on – and delivered the goods.

Were the results that good – and are they measurable?

At the time, you were really happy with the project. And so was the client. But if there’s a chance that a competitor has done a similar job to you when faced with a similar challenge, then you might not sound so special after all. That might seem harsh but B2B content just has to stand out. And the best way to stand out is to talk about outstanding results.

At the very least, your results must say something about you and your solution or service. And they must be measurable and digestible. Numbers and metrics work best because they mean one thing – proof. They are proof that you have delivered working solutions – and demonstrate in clear and practical terms  how much better off your client now is, thanks to you.

Is this our best work – or the best example of what we stand for?

This is a tough question. And this is where we talk about vanity vs. practicality. The project you want to write up into a case study might well have been for a big client and you might have been paid a heap of money. But, does this story demonstrate your expertise, or showcase your point of differentiation?

The easiest way to answer this one is to ask around. Chat to your senior management team and find out if they feel this project was a great example of what you do best. If you are going to write this case study, the answer had better be a resounding and deafening ‘yes!’.

How much can we talk about?

For SMEs in particular, a little touch of paranoia and caution is understandable. It’s natural to be worried about providing too much detail. On the other hand, if you want to tell a good story and then realise that while the beginning and the end is great, the middle is a bit woolly – then you have a problem.

At best, you might sound overly secretive and at worst, you’ll come across as a complete spoofer, leaving out crucial details. This is particularly the case in technology, construction, and engineering where very precise solutions are often devised on a project-by- project basis.

The world is full of boring case studies. And this doesn’t have to be the case at all! Before you pick up a pen, grab 15 minutes to answer these questions honestly and make sure you’re not adding to the pile

*photo from Marcus Aurelius on Pexels…

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How Builders and Construction Suppliers Can Let Their Web Content do The Work

For many years now, I’ve written for everybody in the construction sector from contractors through to specialist engineers and geotechnical experts. And if you’re selling to construction buyers, there’s a few things that you must take into account when writing copy and content for your website.

In an industry that is well known for being understated, it’s never a good idea to take the hard-sell approach. Alienating or irritating a prospect through an overly enthusiastic or tone-deaf sales pitch could prove disastrous, given the size of the average project value. These days, construction buyers will do their initial research online and it’s crucial the words on your website will do enough to get on their long-list, or better still, short-list.


Five things you just have to do when writing web content for construction buyers

  • Just say it straight. Engineers, architects, builders, and specifiers have a finely-tuned nonsense radar. Your audience are creative, professional men and women who solve complex problems on-site and off, every day. They want certainty, experience, and expertise. No high-falutin’ promises. No hyperbolic, blowhard nonsense.  Take it easy with the flowery language and long sentences –  because it won’t get you anywhere.
  • Just use the right amount of jargon. While they might hate nonsense, they don’t mind a little jargon here and there. And that’s because the use of jargon and acronyms is often a quicker, more efficient way of saying something – as long as everyone knows what you’re talking about. For B2B audiences, you should never eliminate all jargon, but be careful about what you keep. For example, in passive-house construction, everyone knows what ICF means. As a general rule, if there’s a quicker way to say something that everyone will still understand, say it that way.
  • Just tell your success stories using case studies on your site. Prospective construction clients want to see a proven track record above almost everything else.  By creating a 2oo-300 word case study, you will guide your reader through a typical successful project, mentioning what the main problems were and how you overcome them. In one fell swoop, you get to demonstrate experience, track record, expertise, technical ability, and customer satisfaction – and do it all in the right context.
  • Just play to your strengths. Some aspects of construction are very challenging and require very specific skillsets. Let’s assume you regularly build or refurbish commercial premises in city-centre locations. Making sure your clients can continue doing business-as-usual requires an ability to handle everything from traffic management and access to complex project management, and much more. Or, let’s say you only build homes that meet the highest standard in energy efficiency. These are all key competitive advantages that you need to communicate through your web content.
  • Just make sure you do yourself justice. Every builder demonstrates a certain level of technical excellence on every project, but they’re often not very good at communicating these points. From Health & Safety protocols to equipment standards or required methodologies, you must present your firm as a fully professional construction partner. You need to identify what issues are of particular concern to your audience and weave them naturally throughout your web content.

Above all, you need to take a walk in your prospective buyer’s shoes. Imagine the pressure they are under to get this big decision right. If they choose the wrong contractor or supplier, that will be a costly error for everyone involved. Use words to persuade and convince them that your company has what it takes to deliver a successful project.

And if you need any help writing these words, feel free to get in touch

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What your industrial B2B copywriter needs to know about the real industrial buying decision-making process – in one short story

Industrial B2B copywriters like me have always bought into the whole power-of-storytelling thing because most industrial buying decisions fall neatly into the three bits that make up pretty much every story.

 

So, if you sell or supply anything like enterprise software, industrial components, commercial machinery, or similar large-scale investments, the following tale is going to sound familiar. And in order to sell your products or services into these hectic B2B environments, your copywriter will need to know this story too.

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What your B2B technology buyer is really thinking when they’re reading your marketing content and collateral…

By addressing the emotional concerns of your prospective B2B tech buyer, and not just the technical considerations of the project, you’ll engage the person behind the title. For too long, many marketers have pictured your typical IT buyer as a human spreadsheet, ticking boxes and clarifying administrative and budgetary needs.

When developing your marketing materials, remember that technology buyers are people too and if you listen closely enough, you’ll hear their emotional concerns loud and clear…

“I’ve heard that one before” – if you sell B2B technology, you’ll know that everybody wants a piece of the IT or engineering decision-maker. Possibly the most marketed-to professionals in any industry, these guys and girls are promised the sun, moon and stars from people like you every day of the week and as a result, they‘re sceptical about the ability of any solution to deliver on its promises. You can counter this concern by presenting real evidence where possible through research reports and testimonials.

 “I still have to work here you know” – in work, we all want to do the best job we can and how our peers and colleagues see us is very important. Your prospective customer will consider how your solution will impact on their daily working life and they wonder about how it will affect their image and position in the company. IBM have built their marketing message on this very idea thanks to that famous 1970’s cliché – ‘nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’. Recognise this and address it through your content and collateral using, for example, a detailed, role-based case study or success story.

“I’m not sure it’s worth the risk” –when it comes to complex, expensive products and services, risk is intensified.  You should also bear in mind that if there is a high level of technical support or implementation required, your prospect might already have an existing relationship with their current service provider.  And there may be a feeling that whatever benefits your solution offers, the relationship with the existing supplier may be valuable and not worth losing. Your collateral must show you understand any risk and detail how you can reduce it or better still, eliminate it.

 “I just don’t get it” – just because you understand your product suite intimately, that may not be the case for the buyer. When preparing product and service information, consider what might already be preconceptions, and seek to clarify misunderstandings where possible. Be prepared to use diagrams, tables or videos to help communicate complex aspects of your solution.

“Change?… Me?” – sudden change can be scary and when it comes to selling software or hardware that can have a major impact on an existing network or technology infrastructure, it can make buyers very reluctant to fully engage with your marketing materials. If they have already invested in hardware, software, and training for their existing solution, why would they get rid of all that to use your product or service? You need to convince them that this change is certainly worth it and you can do this by showing empathy and that you understand the nature of any specific changes, addressing them as required.

Humanise your marketing content because your B2B tech buyer relies not only on their research and technical knowledge, they listen to their gut too.

And for help in developing those materials, I’ve been writing B2B technology copy for more than 15 years and can give you the expertise you need – email diarmuid(at) oconnellcopy.om now, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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B2B focus: It takes two – why sales and marketing folk must work together to create content that gets results…and how they should do it

Who doesn’t enjoy the passive-aggressive banter between sales and marketing people, often about content development and who does what? You’ll be glad to know I have a great suggestion to unite them.

The next time you see sales and marketing folk together at a water cooler/printer/canteen, just take them aside and calmly tell them  in an agony-aunt manner that in order to create great content they must work together and that this is how you should do it. They will instantly come together in their overwhelming hatred of you – job done! Easy!

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If you’re an SME B2B technology company, define what you want your website to do and build your content around that

Understanding your website communications goals has never been more important for the tech-sector SME. In broad terms, a technology B2B website aims to do one or more, of three things. Identify what you want to do and develop a content strategy that will help you realise your goals.

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Selling B2B? – You’ll need a b2b copywriter that understands the difference between writing for consumer and business audiences

On their journey from consumer to professional buyer, people change – a lot!

As a consumer buying just for yourself, you’re probably at your most vulnerable to emotion and impulse buying. And when buying for your family and friends, you tend to be less impulsive and a bit more cautious.  But when you go to work and are tasked with buying something as a professional buyer for your business or organisation – you turn into a completely different person.

If you’re selling b2b (business to business) and creating content to connect with decision-makers in any industry, an experienced b2b copywriter knows that there is a big difference between writing for consumers and business buyers.