GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney came under fire recently for his comments that “corporations are people.” But the truth is, Romney wasn’t off the mark. People work for and run corporations. If you’re trying to sell a product to a corporation, you have to write copy that appeals to people – or more specifically, the business buyer.
B2B Copy Must Appeal to Buyer’s Needs
As noted B2B copywriter Bob Bly says, “The business buyer is an information-seeker, constantly on the lookout for information and advice that can help the buyer do the job better, increase profits, or advance his career.” Your copy then must emphasize the product’s features and benefits. But the message must be interesting, important and relevant to the buyer’s needs, otherwise it won’t be read.
How do you do that?
You have to focus on what motivates the business buyer. Most of the time, business buyers choose the safe, acceptable solution to the company’s problems. The trouble is, “safe and acceptable” is not always the best business solution. As a B2B copywriter, you need to focus on other concerns, such as the ones Bob Bly refers to in this excerpt from his article, “Business Buyers are Looking for Personal Benefits”:
Avoiding stress or hardship is a big concern among prospects. For example, a consultant might offer a new system for increasing productivity, but it means more paperwork for the shipping department…and especially for the head of the shipping department. If he has anything to say about it, and thinks no one will criticize him for it, the head of shipping will, in this case, work to sway the committee against engaging the consultant or using his system…even though the current procedures are not efficient. The department head, already overworked, wants to avoid something he perceives as a hassle and a headache, despite its contribution to the greater good of the organization.
Fear of the unknown is also a powerful motivator. A middle manager, for example, might vote against acquiring desktop publishing and putting a terminal on every manager’s desk because he himself has computer phobia. Even though he recognizes the benefit such technology can bring to his department, he wants to avoid the pain of learning something he perceives to be difficult and frightening. Again, personal benefit outweighs corporate benefit in this situation.
Fear of loss is another powerful motivator. An advertising manager in a company that has handled its advertising in-house for the past decade may resist his president’s suggestion that they retain an outside advertising agency to handle the company’s rapidly expanding marketing campaign. Even if he respects the ad agency and believes they will do a good job, the ad manager may campaign against them, fearing that bringing in outside experts will diminish his own status within the company.
In these and many other instances, the business buyer is for himself first; and his company, second. To be successful, your copy must not only promise the benefits the prospect desires for his company; it should also speak to the prospect’s personal agenda, as well.