The Most Powerful Tool in B2B Writing

10/31/2016

B2B writing

First of all, just relax: This isn’t rocket science. Yes, you may be writing for an audience of literal rocket scientists, but the mechanics of good writing are not about to change. The center of gravity is just a little different in B2B. And to get writing that really works, your every word must be weighted toward a single unifying objective:

SIMPLICITY

Clarity matters, too. So do voice and humor and brand consistency. But the first and last job of all B2B writing is to share complex information in the simplest possible terms. An audience of engineers has enough complexity to deal with every day. Your words should ease that cognitive burden—not increase it.

Of course in B2B you’re often tempted toward the very opposite. As you work to describe some very complex technologies, you might find yourself lured into some very complicated prose. Sometimes you won’t escape the snare. But in most cases you can use some easy benchmarks to keep over-complexity at bay:

CONTROL THE LENGTH OF SENTENCES AND PARAGRAPHS

Short sentences are simple sentences. You’ll find some exceptions to this, but it’s almost always true. Brevity is the shortest path toward simplicity (puns intended). So here are three basic measurements to help you keep your content length in check:

  • Sentences should rarely exceed 25 words
  • Your average sentence should trend around 18 words
  • Paragraphs should rarely exceed 100 words and 3-5 sentences

WHAT REALLY MATTERS

Most of the world’s overcomplicated copy is the result of somebody trying to write “smart.” Don’t try it. Because your subject matter is already smart enough (this is B2B, after all). Writing is just about delivering that smart information from one human brain to another—and doing it as painlessly as possible.

That’s why the first and last job of all B2B writing is to share complex information in the simplest possible terms.

About the Author

Cliff Lewis
Executive Creative Director
Godfrey

I tell campfire stories to engineers and purchasing managers.

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