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 http://www.awaionline.com/thegoldenthread

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