Writing for business to business readers is only slightly different than how one might approach writing to a business to consumer customer. If you think about it, in both cases, real live human people read both kinds of posts, so they’re still similar. The differences come from what is covered, and sometimes, how it’s covered. One reason it’s tricky to write B2B content is that it’s sometimes far more dry than a consumer post might be. But you don’t have to be dry. Here are some ideas and topics.
Is Your Customer Online?
I met a guy who sells shiny concrete polish a day or two ago. I’m not kidding. Should he be blogging? Sure, if his user base is online. If you’re to believe studies, I’d say that lots of customers are online that we don’t know are there. Check Technorati for your company, product, or general industry name. If you find other people discussing you, you might consider getting online and telling your own story, too.
10 Sexy Headlines You Can Use Today
Okay, I won’t really list ten headlines, but the idea is inherent in the headline. Stealing a page out of Copyblogger’s book, write headlines that match current consumer magazines. They draw our attention in grocery stores for a reason. Just shift them to match your business needs. Turn, “Five summer makeover tips she needs to know” into “Five summer makeover tips your data center needs now.” Easy, eh?
Think Hard About the Customer/User
Often, B2B content is written to represent the company. Swell. Except your audience is most likely your customer base and prospects. To that end, write your posts with your customer’s usage in mind. Think about what they will want to know, and how you can be useful. Some quick ideas:
- How-to posts on some of the trickier aspects of your product.
- Little known 3rd party products that work well with your product.
- Product release roadmaps (if they’re public), and what the customer gets with each iteration.
- Funny internal bits about the products (I wonder if Will it Blend started as an internal joke between engineers).
- People profiles from the company’s staff, especially if they don’t exactly relate to the product.
Write About Your Customers
Can you do case studies with your customers? Are there really interesting things you’ve heard that they are doing, with or without your products? People love seeing their name in print. Why not write about some of your favorite customers (maybe don’t call them your favorites, because, well, the others might feel sad), and give them some love on your post.
Share the Bad Times
This might be counter-intuitive, but your business partners might occasionally appreciate knowing when something is going tough. I’ll admit that this is tricky water. There are lots of parts of your business relationship that aren’t exactly fit for prime time, and sharing a weakness is tricky, but in the event of a public-facing product or service issue, it’s probably better to get it out there than to sit on it. If you want best-in-class examples of handling public concerns, check out the work of Lionel Menchaca and team at Direct2Dell, the Dell computers blog.
Respond to Industry Information and Topical News
People are reading more than your blog site, and I might have to add that they probably like lots of other sites better than your blog. But do you know who loves you (or who should)? Google. They love you just as much as the next guy, even if they rank you based on your website’s search quality, your site freshness, and a dozen other things I won’t talk about here.
To that end, blogging with topical information in mind sometimes gets you sucked into the Google search fans. If you’re in telecommunications, why wouldn’t you write about the new Apple iPhone, even if you are the competition? The changes that Apple and by extension, AT&T, are bringing to the consumer space must touch yours in some way. Look for stories in the mainstream news that might cross over with your B2B customers, and write the tangential article to match.
Ask Questions and Solicit Input
Lastly, make sure that you check in with your audience regularly on posts. Ask them if what you’ve written relates to their use of your product or service. Ask them what they’d like to hear more about. See what’s on their minds. You might find that the conversations that start on your blog, even the negative ones, are enlightening, and you might find yourself getting information that will help you improve your product, service, or maybe the business itself. Be open to it. All of it.
What else might you want to consider? What questions does this bring up as a B2B business person? If you’re a consumer, tell me about a potential B2B blog that you wish someone was writing.
The Social Media 100 is a series of posts by Chris Brogan covering the use of social media and social networking tools to develop your business, organization, or personal communications skills. If you liked this post, consider subscribing for free to receive more. Also, if you want even more information, Chris publishes a completely separate and original newsletter delivered right to your mailbox. It’s also free.
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