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 eMarketer.com, 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 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!
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!
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 http://www.awaionline.com/thegoldenthread