By Dan DiPiro
October 7, 2020
Without knowing it, marketing professionals routinely harm their own marketing efforts. They wreak havoc on their own video scripts, infographics, email messages, landing pages, web banners, and other marketing pieces.
How? By using too much copy.*
Walls of copy make marketing communications less approachable, less understandable, and less likely to be read. Voluminous copy and complex reading can dissuade early-in-the-journey tire-kickers from even reading your words, never mind digesting and remembering them.
Prospects early in the customer journey tend to be less able and less willing to receive a wholesale brain-dump about your product. And these include prospects who would willingly read a concise explanation of your product’s value, if you were to provide one.
When you fill your marketing pieces with too much copy, too many messages, and too many ideas, your most important messages get lost among less important ones. And you waste opportunities to engage more prospects early in the journey.
There will come a time in the customer journey when a smaller, more qualified group of interested prospects will be ready to read your unabridged product spiel. Those hundreds or thousands of words will be just what they want, and exactly what you should use, to move them a step closer to the sale.
But, most of the time, it ain’t yet that time.
Answer these questions:
A “yes” to any of the above warrants your reading on.
I get it. You know your products really, really well. And you’ve got a lot to say about them. They are the world you live in all day, Monday through Friday. Sometimes, you even dream about them.
So, you know exactly what you want to tell prospects about your products, and you believe in it. There are so many reasons for them to choose your products over the competition’s. You could anticipate and respond to their objections, too—if only they’d hear you out!
The temptation to say everything everywhere affects marketers across industries. But it reserves its most insidious attacks for marketers working in business-to-business technology. Why?
Plus, if you feel good about mastering all that complexity—all those smart-sounding tech terms and acronyms and so forth—it can be tough to resist showing off a little.
You’re willing to admit there are times you go overboard with copy—when you say more than you probably should in your promotional materials. But how can you safely market any other way? Suppose you leave out something crucial?
Simplicity and clarity are vital to the success of all marketing copy. And they’re particularly difficult to achieve in B2B tech copy. Between all the gigaFLOPS, terabits per second, and whatever makes the “next generation” better than the last, there’s a lot to keep track of.
If simplifying the complex is not in your job description, it should be. Your technology may be incredibly complex, but it’s your job to make it understandable—to the one in charge of IT and to the one in charge of purchasing. Every great marketer works to simplify copy so it’s more accessible, meaningful, and memorable.
Who ultimately wins in B2B tech marketing? Those who know how to welcome large numbers of prospects early in the customer journey with simple, concise, compelling communications that persuade prospects to take the next simple, little step.
Early in the journey, your prospect is like you were before you learned all about your product. Some prospects don’t even know much of anything about IT. They’re just looking for a solution to their problem.
Do you remember how clueless you were when you first encountered all those tech product features, benefits, stats, and marketing messages? Remember how difficult it was to take it all in and make sense of it? It took time and effort, didn’t it?
Surely, then, you can understand that you can’t simply hurl a bunch of words and numbers at your target audience and expect them to get it or not be scared away. This is promotional copy we’re talking about, after all. You need to beg your prospect for a few seconds of their time. You need to cajole them into reading just a few words. And you need to make it easy for them.
So, if your goal should not be to jam-pack your marketing copy with messages about your tech product, what should it be?
Of all the marketing pieces you create, which one is going to sell your multi-million-dollar IT solution? None of them. The multi-million-dollar sale itself will not be accomplished by any marketing piece alone. It will be accomplished by the salespeople who build relationships with your prospects.
Don’t even try to accomplish the monumental task of selling your complex B2B tech product. That task is too big to accomplish with a single marketing asset. Focus on selling your call to action (CTA)—a much smaller and easier sell.
Isn’t that a load off your mind? Your copy doesn’t need to cover all the points and deliver all the messages about your product. You only need to include enough to sell that phone call, or website visit, or webinar registration, or infographic download. Whatever the next incremental step along the journey is.
When you focus on achieving just this “sale,” it’s easier to avoid feeling as if you must say everything. Discerning between messages to include and those to leave out becomes a much easier task. And the overall effect will be your repeatedly coaxing the prospect—with bite-size, easily digestible bits of information—to take the next small step along the journey, and then the next, and the next.
Finally, do this: hire good copywriters, designers, and creative directors, and heed their recommendations. Your experienced copywriter is much more than a willing typist. And your designer is much more than a graphics-software operator.
Creative marketing professionals know many ways to optimize the performance of the marketing assets they create for you. This includes appropriately sizing your copy according to what you want your audience to think, feel, and do (the CTA). They know how much copy is too much for an infographic or a 90-second video voiceover or a promotional email message, and so on.
For each piece they create for you, ask these creative experts to share with you a target word count for the piece. Then keep that target in mind when you review and mark up copy. If, during creative development, they tell you the piece has become too complex and wordy, believe them.
Let them help you communicate more strategically and more effectively—by saying less.
* I am talking here about marketing copy, which is overtly promotional. I am not talking about content, which is, by most marketers’ definition, more informative and journalistic in style (for example, this blog).
With over two decades of experience as a writer and content strategist, Dan will be the first one to tell you he knows what he’s doing. He oversees all things related to COPY. (Don’t call it content… he hates that.) Dan enjoys the challenge of writing for clients who expect, recognize, and welcome good writing, and shares this passion within his copy team.View our Team