Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Like Writing for the Web? You'll Love the B2B Market!

By Steve Slaunwhite

If you think the business-to-business (B2B) market is all about writing brochures, sell sheets, and print ads, think again.

B2B is, perhaps, the biggest opportunity for web copywriters.

In fact, I know several copywriters who specialize exclusively in crafting emails, websites, landing pages, online ads, and more for business-to-business companies. They rarely, if ever, write a print piece.

How is that possible?

Well, despite what many writers may think, business-to-business companies allocate a huge chunk of their marketing budgets to online initiatives.

Take a look at the statistics.

According to, a respected research firm, B2B companies will spend more than $5.3 billion on Internet advertising this year. That represents a double-digit annual growth that is projected to continue for many years to come.

And that only tells part of the story.

While most sectors are cutting back on marketing because of the recession, over 60.2% of business-to-business companies are actually spending more this year. A lot more.

In addition to online advertising – which is only the tip of the iceberg – B2B companies are investing heavily in updated and new websites, online lead-generation campaigns (emails, auto-responders, landing pages), email marketing, e-newsletters, webinars, podcasts, social media, and more.

And here's another statistic that may surprise you. According to a joint study by Hearst Electronics Group and Goldstein Communications Group, B2B companies will allocate 170% more of their marketing budgets to web-based initiatives over the next five years.

So, when it comes to writing for the Web, business-to-business is definitely where the action – and the money – is.

Now that I've convinced you (I hope!) that B2B is a web writer's paradise, what types of projects can you expect to work on?

Well, business-to-business companies need an astonishingly wide range of Internet-marketing materials in their ongoing quest to build brand awareness, generate publicity, get leads and website traffic, and close sales.

In fact, that's what I like most about this market. The variety. One day you're writing an email-marketing piece. The next day, you're crafting a webinar script. The work never gets dull!

Let's take a look at the most common types of B2B web-writing projects.


B2B companies are constantly creating or updating website pages as they change and grow their product lines. In fact, it's not unusual for even a modest-sized company to have a website with hundreds of pages covering dozens of products and applications.

And, by the way, the days of the "brochure site" have gone the way of the Dodo. Today, most B2B companies know their websites have to be alive with compelling content, informative articles, and other information that needs to be created and updated constantly.

Landing Pages

Landing pages are used by B2B companies to help generate leads and, in some instances, direct online sales.

I find writing landing pages particularly lucrative (and fun) because they're relatively short – typically just a page or two in length. Yet, they pay very well, as high as $2,500.


Business-to-business companies are, by far, the biggest users of email-marketing communications. They use email for special promotions, lead generation, follow-up, newsletters, and more.

Email newsletters, in particular, are great-paying projects for online copywriters. Not only does each issue pay well, but most B2B companies publish at least once a month. That's a steady gig – and a steady cash flow – which is nice when you're a freelancer.

And although I don't have any statistics to back this up, in my experience B2B newsletter writing pays a lot better than its consumer counterpart. $1,000-$3,500 per issue for an e-newsletter comprised of an introduction, main article, and promotional product blurb, is not uncommon.

White Papers and Case Studies

It's easy to think of white papers and case studies as printed documents, because they're often published as PDFs and look like print. But that's just an illusion. White papers and case studies are about as "online" as you can get. They're published electronically, promoted on the Web, and delivered online (usually as a download from the company's website).

Ask anyone who writes these special types of marketing pieces, and they'll tell you how fascinating they are. These projects pay extremely well, too. You can expect to get $3,000-$7,000 to craft a white paper, which isn't bad for just 7-12 pages!

Online Advertising

In all the formats – search engine ads, banner ads, ezine ads – B2B companies advertise on the Internet like crazy. As I said earlier, their spending on online advertising will continue to grow significantly this year, despite the recession.


One of my favorite B2B web-writing projects is the webinar script. Companies use webinars (the Internet's version of live presentations with slides) as a way to create interest in their products and services, generate sales leads, and build brand awareness and publicity.

Writing a webinar is interesting and fun. And, seeing your webinar script "performed" on the Internet is a special experience. It's like being a screenwriter and watching the movie you wrote!

Social Media

Here's a B2B-marketing activity that's growing by leaps and bounds. Business-to-business companies are using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, forums, blogs, and other Web 2.0 techniques to reach and connect with their prospects and customers. And who's writing all the posts, profiles, and comments? Increasingly, companies are turning to freelance copywriters for help.

Those are some types of B2B web-writing projects. There are many others. I haven't even touched on podcasts, videocasts, website sales pages, online video, or SEO.

So, if you thought B2B copywriting was primarily about brochures and other printed stuff, I hope I've changed your mind.

B2B – especially in this economy – is, in my opinion, the best opportunity for those who want to write for the Web.

I'd tell you more, but I have to get an email-marketing piece done for UPS!

This article appears courtesy of The Golden Thread, an e-letter from AWAI that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on how to build your freelance copywriting business. For a free subscription, visit

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Should Only "Techies" Write for the B2B Market?

By Steve Slaunwhite

"I'd love to write for the business-to-business market," a writer explained to me on the phone the other day. "But I'm just not much good with technology."

Helen was clearly feeling disappointed. She liked the idea of writing no-hype marketing materials for B2B companies in her state. Fun projects like web pages, emails, newsletters, case studies, and white papers. But her lack of confidence with technology, software, and industrial products and services was holding her back.

That's a common misconception many writers have. They think they have to be able to get their heads around stuff like routers, thyristors, PHPs, and other techie things in order to write successfully for the business-to-business market.

Not true.

You can do great in B2B without ever having to write a marketing piece for a technical product or software.

In fact, the majority of business-to-business products and services aren't technical at all. And they're actually quite simple to understand.

For example, I recently completed a series of projects for a training company that specializes in executive time-management seminars. For their latest program, I wrote a series of sell sheets, some web copy, a lead-generating direct-mail letter and landing page, two client success stories, and a white paper. (I sure learned a lot about time management that month!)

All those projects were fascinating to write, paid very well, and required no particular technical knowledge on my part. You could write about a time-management seminar, couldn't you?

And training companies aren't the only type of B2B copywriting client where the projects require no technical knowledge. There are many, many others including:

Financial services for businesses
Event planning
Legal services for businesses
Specialized services (office cleaning, fleet maintenance, etc.)
Advertising and marketing
Office supplies and furnishings
Executive search firms
Business travel services
Seminar producers
Professional and trade publications
Information services
Commercial versions of everyday products (i.e., washing machines for hotels)

This is, of course, only a partial list. There are dozens of types of companies in B2B that are nowhere near technical.

I once wrote a website for a special type of electric can opener used in restaurant kitchens. Now, how difficult was that product to understand?

Many copywriters build enviable careers without coming even close to anything that resembles technical writing. I know one writer who specializes in e-newsletters for professional service companies, such as law firms, consultancies, and executive coaches. He's thriving in the business-to-business market – really one of the tops in his niche – and rarely, if ever, does he have to pull out his dictionary of technology terms!

So don't let a discomfort with technology hold you back from breaking into B2B.

If you happen to be comfortable with computer hardware, software, instrumentation, industrial equipment, and other techie products and services, then by all means approach those types of clients. Just know that, to be successful writing for the lucrative business-to-business market, you don't have to.

This article appears courtesy of The Golden Thread, an e-letter from AWAI that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on how to build your freelance copywriting business. For a free subscription, visit

Friday, March 6, 2009

Effective Human Resources Writing

My new website has finally been launched at after months of keyword and niche research!

Currently, it has only the Home page, the About Us page and the Newsletter subscription page. I'll be adding content pages one at a time, slowly, but with original ideas:)

I invite you to visit my site and comment on it.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs & Copywriting

"It's the benefits, not the features, idiot!!" Benfits, Benefits, Benefits! - It's drilled into us, copywriters.

But does this really hold good in Third World economies like India? Even in case of B2C, eg., a car - people here get sold on features, not benefits. This is even more true for B2B products/services given the scarcity of resources in such economies.

Could the answer be in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Third World economies typically are at the bottom of the hierarchy - Physiological - Food/Clothing/Shelter.

Western countries on the other hand, are already way up the hierarchy - Esteem and Self Actualization - where prospects would be in search of benefits to satisfy their 'wants.'

Prospects in Third World economies being at the bottom of the hierarchy, have 'needs' to be satisfied and therefore would search for 'features' in products/services.

Comments are invited on my mini hypothesis:)

Noel Gama

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Solving Client's Biggest Problem

Solve Your Client’s Biggest Problem … Writing One “Page” of Copy
by Rebecca Matter

There are thousands of companies that share a common problem …

Their website is nowhere to be found when a potential customer searches the Internet for a product or service similar to the one they offer.

Not only that … they don’t have the knowledge or expertise to fix that “invisible” problem.

They know it involves changing their website, but they’re not sure how. They’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO), but the whole idea of it seems confusing and a bit overwhelming.

So instead of making changes to their website in order to get lots of free search traffic, they decide to pay for their site traffic by using pay-per-click (PPC) ads … or they do nothing at all.

Or they think SEO means jamming a bunch of keywords into their Web pages, and they make the problem worse. (Indeed, one of the reasons the PPC industry has grown so much over the past few years is the general lack of knowledge about SEO copywriting. But don’t worry, we’ll tackle PPC next.)

And although running PPC ads might make sense in some situations, optimizing a website using SEO techniques should be done regardless.

For copywriters who can advise and provide their clients with a solution to this problem, the payoff is extremely lucrative.

I’ll tell you exactly how lucrative in a minute, but first let’s take a quick look at what SEO copywriters do …

In a nutshell, the SEO copywriter’s job is to increase the ranking of his client’s website in Google’s (or another search engine’s) “organic” search results. If you’re not familiar with the term “organic” as it applies to search results, let me explain …

There are two ways a web page can appear on a search engine’s results page. One way is if the search engine places it there because the site owner is paying for it with a PPC ad.

[Note: If you are unfamiliar with PPC ads, go to Google and do a search for the phrase “running shoes.” Just under the blue bar, you’ll see two headings labeled “sponsored links.” And directly underneath them, you’ll find the PPC ads.]

A second way is when the search engine deems a Web page relevant for a specific keyword or phrase being searched. Because search results like these are not paid for, and show up on the results page naturally, they’re often referred to as “organic.”

The SEO copywriter’s main job is to improve their client’s organic search results. This is done by strategically modifying the copy to include specific keywords or phrases.

This article appears courtesy of The Golden Thread, an e-letter from AWAI that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on how to build your freelance copywriting business. For a free subscription, visit

Monday, April 21, 2008

Between the Pen and the Sale, are the Words… Take my Word for it!

Until very recently, the typical corporate Home page was merely the cyber version of the visiting card and at best, an hastily conceived company brochure floating around in cyberspace, waiting to be ‘found’ by surfers ‘passing by.’ A simple query on would show the dismal ranking of such sites that merely took the bricks and mortar concept of ‘location, location, location…’ to the web.

However, on the internet, it’s all about ‘information, information, information.’ Nobody is ‘passing by.’ People go to the internet in search of information using keywords on search engines (SE) like Google. ‘Information’ may or may not be found in the ‘content’ the site provides – very rarely do searchers look for photographs and graphics. Think… when you go online, what do you do most? Does it come as a surprise that while you complain that reading on a computer screen is not easy on your eyes, you do spend most of your time reading text? And when ‘reading’ a magazine offline, you do prefer to look at the pictures first, don’t you? Like you, potential customers do take a second look at glossy corporate brochures and the pictures in them, but research shows that on the internet, most people look for the ‘text’ part of ‘content.’ And I am not even talking about an irritant called flash animation, which happens to be the favourite of many web designers!

But there’s more… the text people are searching for must not only be informational in nature – people are not interested in pages of self-praise. The thing uppermost in the surfer’s mind is, WIIFM (what’s in it for me) i.e., ‘benefits, benefits, benefits,’ not merely, ‘features, features, features.’

These visitors who arrive on the landing pages of sites as a result of typing in specific keywords, are prospects, a percentage of which may turn into leads when they click on the 'More Info' button.

But don’t take my word for it – not just yet. Let’s put it to the test. Type in your favourite keyword into Google and look up the results page – your site may not be listed at No.1… not on the first page or even through to page 10. But we take comfort from the fact that none of our known competitors figures on these pages as well. But wait… we find another type of competitor – cyber competitors and in our line of business! And, we’ve just discovered that our Home page is another marketplace with tremendous potential.

Here’s where keyword research comes to the fore in SE optimization (SEO) and SEO-copywriting. Word Tracker is my favourite keyword research tool, which throws up hundreds of keywords from a few seed words. These keywords, if sprinkled in the text of web pages, make it easier for 'spiders' to find them. As the song goes, ‘it’s only words…’ – or to be more specific, ‘keywords,’ that are vital to humans as well as the SEs. The battle of words is fought on Home turf (pun not intended) and the winner takes it all.