There is a world of a difference between Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) copywriting. And while the copywriting world is full of writers who focus on the sometimes more alluring B2C world, there are precious few who are skilled in the B2B world. Believe me, there are huge differences in the skill set needed to be effective in B2B or B2C. Just completing some on line course or going through a copywriting coaching program may improve writing skills, but they simply can’t teach what can only be gained by experience in the B2B arena: Business Acumen.
Here is a short list with brief descriptions of what you should look for when choosing a B2B copywriter.
- Real world experience in the B2B market space– There is no substitution for actual, hands on experience. All the courses, books, and blogs can not do what real years of experience can do. Make 100% sure that the copywriter you choose has several years of B2B experience. I have been through the copywriting courses and have read many of the books. They are mostly focused on the B2C market space. Why? Because the B2C market space is where all the glamour and big money is (for those who truly make it.) The B2B world has a HUGE entry prevention built in. That barrier is simply experience.
- Years of successful sales experience in the B2B world– Copywriting is nothing more than salesmanship in print. If someone doesn’t have experience in real world sales, they simply won’t be all that effective in writing B2B copy. Anyone can string together well crafted words and add a dash of persuasion, but only a true B2B sales professional can think outside of the copy. If you are in the B2B world, you already understand that while consumers may buy on emotion, businesses buy on what they need (whether they really need it or believe they need it.) And only a successful, tenured sales person knows how to create a compelling picture that will influence more businesses to buy your product.
- The copywriter should specialized exclusively in the B2B space– This may be the biggest area that many business owners may get confused over. If someone is a copywriter and has experience in copywriting, they must be able to write for all types of projects. But as I mentioned earlier, there is a large difference between the skill set of a B2B copywriter and a B2C copywriter. If the copywriter you are working with does not specialize exclusively in the B2B world, then, I believe, they are just another copywriter looking to get business. And I strongly believe that unless they specialize in the B2B Marcomm Space, then you are getting less than you deserve.
- The copywriter should be able to produce samples of success– Here’s a little secret about the copywriting industry; many are told how to “talk around” a customers request for samples. The thought process is that their website (if they have one) or sales letter they sent out is proof enough of their ability to write. But the truth is, most of the marketing letters sent out from copywriters are nothing more than recycled letters from other copywriters. It’s called a “swipe file.” And while a swipe file is critical and almost a mandatory resource, it does not replace actual copywriting experience. If you ask for samples and the copywriter can’t produce something they created, then move on!
- Avoid any copywriter who calls themselves a guru/queen/king/master/expert or any other assigned term– I’ll let you figure out why I suggest this, but will add that anyone can call themselves an expert and do so in order to get credibility. The truth is that since anyone can give themselves a title, these titles mean little to nothing. I am no expert and will never claim to be. In a dynamic climate like the B2B space, experts are immediately outdated by change. It is better to work with someone who is a student of the market rather than someone laying claim to an expert status.
- Decide if you want to pay on an hourly basis or on a per project basis– This is a small point but is truly important. Several copywriters have fixed fees for each specific project type. Others work on an hourly basis. My suggestion is that if you choose an hourly rate, get a time commitment. You should not have to pay for a slow writer or for someone to do research that has already been done. A good copywriter is a busy copywriter, and values his/her time as much as do you. If you are certain that much of the needed research has been completed and can be shared with the copywriter, ask for an hourly rate with a maximum time allowed. Don’t pay someone to do what you already paid someone to do! A good hourly range is from $60 to $90 per hour and depends largely on the scope of the project.