B2B content writing is often written in a very particular voice. Whether it’s blogs, social media posts, or anything else – a lot of B2B writers use a very similar tone.
You probably know the one I mean – that stuffy, stilted, need-to-sound-professional-because-we’re-targeting-professionals tone.
These days, many of those professionals you’re targeting are younger; more approachable, reader-friendly B2B content writing will resonate much better with them. Or us, rather, since I’m one of them.
B2B Content Writing: Voice Tips for Modern Marketers
Nothing puts me off a content piece more than a dry, boring, “professional” tone. Even if something looks like it might be exactly the answer I need, if it looks like reading it will be a chore, I’m likely to go hunt for my answer somewhere else.
And probably not engage with that particular page again, either.
Content should be easy to read and informative. In the B2B space, that means conversational while remaining professional. After all, you’re an expert at whatever you’re blogging about – you should sound like it.
HubSpot’s writers, for example, are unsurprisingly fantastic at this. They strike a solid balance of friendliness, readability, and informativeness that makes it feel like it’s coming from a familiar, professional person. Not a marketing robot.
Here are my tips for writing content that won’t feel like a chore to wade through, and will resonate with all types of professionals.
1 – Proofreading
Before you publish any piece of content, get someone else – preferably another writer – to meticulously proofread it.
The quickest way to undermine your brand’s authority is with error-riddled content, particularly if your grammar and spelling are consistently off.
Proofread it yourself before handing it off, but having a second set of eyes on it before publishing is invaluable. They will catch errors you missed. If you’re prone to a particular spelling error, for example, you might not even notice it in your own proofreading, but someone else probably will.
2 – Know Your Audience & Your Brand
Getting your audience targeting right is the single most important part of any marketing activity. Writing a blog is no different.
The first half of determining your “voice” is considering who, ideally, is going to be reading it. A blog aimed at B2B marketers, like this one, will have an audience with very different expectations than, say, a blog about accounting.
Another thing to consider is how your brand should be represented. A comedic, joking tone paints a different picture of a company than a serious one.
3 – Do or Do Not: Pop Culture References
If the members of your target audience are likely to be young professionals, you might be tempted to throw in some pop culture references or memes.
Memes are an unavoidable part of online culture now, so it’s logical that businesses want to use them to resonate with their audience. I love a good meme, but it’s always a bit jarring to see them used by a business.
Even when writing in a conversational tone, you need to consider whether using pop culture/memes is something that fits with your brand.
When done right, it can add to the content experience, especially if the subject matter itself is fairly dry. If you do decide to include a meme in your content, though, do some research first.
I’m not saying spend an hour browsing memes (and good luck justifying that to your boss), but take a couple minutes to make sure you’re using the right format and using it correctly.
If you get it wrong, it does the opposite of what you’re going for – your company looks out of touch and like you’re trying really hard to seem cool. And if you get it really wrong, you can seriously damage your brand.
For example, DiGiorno Pizza jumped on the hashtag “#whyileft” with the quip “because you didn’t have pizza” without actually researching what the hashtag meant, resulting in a major gaffe – that hashtag was about domestic violence.
Another thing to think about when you’re considering tossing in pop culture references or memes into your content – particularly something like a blog that isn’t as ephemeral as, say, a tweet: that piece is no longer really evergreen, even if the actual content is.
Pop culture is, by definition, temporary, so a reference to a recent movie – let’s say Joker, which at the time of writing has taken the internet by storm – will be entirely irrelevant to readers down the line.
Meme formats are even more short-lived – they appear out of nowhere and once they’re no longer popular, nobody really thinks about them anymore.
If you’re trying to write evergreen content, the last thing you want is someone to be reading your blog and think “Oh wow, that’s an old meme … wait, how out of date is this article anyway?”
4 – Get That Friendly Tone
A good rule of thumb is to write as though you’re talking to a colleague that you’ve got a good professional rapport with but don’t know very well outside of work.
A joke here and there is fine, even appreciated, but stick to the subject at hand.
If you’re having trouble envisioning how you’d talk to a colleague, think of it this way: write your content how you’d like to read it. If you do this, and your proofreader doesn’t struggle through it, you’re probably off to a good start.
The real key is to remember that even if your target audience is defined by a particular job title or persona, the people reading your content are just that – people.