Blog
8th September 2022

If you read our earlier blog about how to conduct a marketing audit in order to future-proof your marketing approach, you will know that it is important to audit the overall marketing function. This includes your inhouse marketers’ skill set – including your marketers’ copywriting capabilities.

From conversations we’re always having with leaders of B2B businesses, and heads of marketing teams, there seems to be continual frustration with copywriting not hitting the mark. We believe there are some universal reasons for this common challenge:

  • Marketers often don’t have the same deep and instinctive understanding of their target personas as their colleagues in other departments – such as sales, content or product development. This is because marketers usually don’t talk to as many customers, based on roles and responsibilities, and because marketers have to spread their time across many different marketing areas – such as martech, data, analytics, design, digital channels etc.

If marketers don’t have a good process, and support from their colleagues, so they can draw out deeper knowledge on key customer value points and best ways to articulate these – then they’re ‘writing blind’.

  • Copywriting is subjective. No matter how clear the USPs and benefits are, there are many ways these can be organised and explained in words. And everyone has an opinion.

    We have worked with many frustrated marketers who find it impossible to please their colleagues/stakeholders with the copy they are tasked with writing. They find constructive feedback is often lacking, and they’re often expected to ‘get it right first time’ – with very little help from their colleagues who naturally have a better understanding of their customers based on roles and level of experience.

To address this issue, we have some practical suggestions on how to improve a marketing team’s copywriting skills and output. Here they are:

#1 Messaging strategy

In a previous blog we covered the importance of developing a messaging strategy before any copy is written. If you haven’t yet read this blog (or have read it and need a refresher) see: Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide.

A good marketer will work through these steps to make sure they understand their target persona well enough to write impactful copy – for every channel, and in every stage of the marketing funnel.

#2 Length of copy

We often hear business leaders expressing firm opinions about the ideal length of marketing copy. Like most things in marketing, this depends on context, i.e. the communications objective, the channel and the stage in the customer journey.

And the key word here is ‘customer’. Every good marketer knows that it doesn’t matter what internal stakeholders prefer – it’s the customer experience when being exposed to and engaging with marketing copy that matters most.

Various lengths of copy are needed within one, integrated marketing campaign:

  • Short-form copy is needed at the top of the funnel, in areas such as organic social media posts, and paid media ads in social channels and Google. Short copy also works well at the very bottom of the funnel, when it is known that customer is very engaged and they just need a relevant marketing messaging to push them over the line.
  • Medium-form copy is typically needed in middle of the funnel activities, such as email campaigns and on website pages.
  • Long-form copy is needed for content-rich pieces such as case studies and blog posts, which sit at various stages of the funnel – but typically short and medium form copy is required to ‘sell the benefits’ of a long form piece so that a customer is incentivised to read it.

A good marketer will consider the objectives, channel and context, and then ensure the length of copy is suitable within the relevant context.

#3 Copy and design

In the ‘experience age’ of marketing, copy typically sits alongside and within relevant imagery – whether static or dynamic (including video). Often the purpose of copy is to produce audio content i.e. as the script for a video or podcast.

Design/visuals/sound effects and copy need to blend well, and together need to seamlessly incorporate CTAs (calls to action) to optimise conversions to the next stage of the customer journey.

A good marketer will consider all aspects of the message i.e. the words, the pictures and the CTA devices. And it is the marketer’s job to make sure that the way in which all these elements come together is suitable for the format and meets the communications objective.

#4 Copywriting vs editorial writing vs business writing

There is a big difference between writing good marketing copy, and writing content for other business requirements:

  • The purpose of writing marketing copy is to persuade someone to do something. It is subjective and should be biased.
  • Editorial or business writing usually needs to be more objective.

In marketing, editorial writing is needed to create content that feeds into content marketing – requiring a piece that is credible and valuable for the customer.

Business writing is typically used for formal reports such as internal strategy documents, and company reports for investors.

These three types of writing vary greatly in terms of their objective and context, and it is very important not to get them ‘mixed up’! There is nothing more off-putting to a senior business executive than reading a ‘puffy’ piece of writing in a business report. And marketing copy that is not persuasive isn’t going to do its job.

A good marketer will recognise the difference between copywriting, editorial writing and business writing, and should be able to deliver all three well – as per relevant context.

#5 To write well for your customers, you need to read what they’re reading

Many marketers in our community are older Gen Z’s and Millennials (aged 22 – 40 as of 2022) who consume a large amount of news and entertainment via social media, where short form videos with subtitles are prevalent. If you’re writing for this demographic, then this is a really important style of communication and copy to understand and do well.

However, a lot of B2B marketing copy (as well as editorial and formal business copy) needs to be written for senior decision-makers who are aged 40+. A large number of the target audience groups MPG’s clients serve are C-suite executives, who tend to be aged 50 and over.

For an older marketer to write well for a younger audience, they should immerse themselves in the channels their younger audience is spending time in e.g. Tik Tok and Instagram, and they should be paying close attention to how content is presented and consumed. This should define their copywriting style for this audience.

Likewise, when younger marketers have the job of writing for older audience groups, they should make a concerted effort to spend time on Facebook, and read what their target personas read e.g. The Economist, The Financial Times, and well-respected, editorially-led news and information providers in specific, relevant industries, such as Retail Week and Infrastructure Investor.

Issues with spelling;  abbreviations that an audience won’t understand; language that is too informal or formal; and poor grammar (especially problematic when writing for older audiences!) are unfortunately far too prevalent in the copy marketers produce.

Generally speaking, the marketers who read more – and read widely – tend to be stronger at copwriting. So, if you are a marketer struggling with copywriting, I strongly recommend you get reading! It doesn’t matter what you read, but make sure you include some high quality publications that are editorially-led. Even an extra 15 minutes a day of reading something you wouldn’t normally read will probably make a big difference to your natural copywriting abilities!

Good habits make good marketers.


Copywriting is a challenging area, and therefore potentially also your best opportunity to get ahead of your competitors. But a pro-active and constructive approach is needed to make sure copywriting is a marketing strength. If it is a weakness, your whole business will suffer.

MPG can help your B2B marketers get better at their copywriting. Our most popular MPG Academy training course is the B2B Messaging Masterclass that has seen over 100 successful students over the past two years. Get in touch to find out how we can deliver this training for your marketing team – complete this form to find out more https://www.mpg.biz/academy-request-more-info/.

The ‘effective messaging’ training programme delivered by MPG Academy was very relevant to our team’s day-to-day work. I’m seeing a lot of the learnings being taken on board and used. All the theory was made applicable – which was hugely valuable. I would definitely recommend this programme for B2B marketers.

Mathilde Le Borgne, Head of Marketing, Licensing Portfolio, Informa Markets

Copywriting: how every B2B marketer can improve this skill set

Blog
8th September 2022
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