B-to-B Copywriting: 10 Modern and Classic Techniques
Copywriting consultant Bob Bly, with the Dumont, N.J.-based Center for Technical Communications, offered up a slew of B-to-B copywriting tips during his session at the recent MeritDirect Business Mailer’s Co-op Conference in White Plains, N.Y. Among them, he emphasized modern touches as well as some classics, such as the 45-year-old unique selling proposition (USP). Below are 10 of his pointers:
1. The secret of the big promise is to get the buyer’s attention. Make a big promise that offers to improve customers’ business or save them money. Don’t make a little promise.
2. Give statistical proof with your big promises. Customers will be skeptical, so proof makes your promises more believable.
3. Show what differentiates your product from the competition. Bly referred to the original definition of USP in the 1961 book, “Reality in Advertising”:
-Each advertisement must make a proposition--”Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
-The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique--either a uniqueness of brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field.
-The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass milllions -- i.e., pull over new customers to your product.
4. Have a secondary promise: If customers don’t believe your big promise, have a lesser benefit that the product also delivers, Bly said. “It’s not as large as the big promise,” he noted, “but it gives reason enough to order the product, and is small enough a promise so it’s easily believed.”
5. Implement the four U’s: Urgent, Unique, Ultra-Specific and Useful. Score each headline in your catalog with a 1 to 4 scale (weakest to strongest) for each of the four U’s. Every one must score at least a 3 or 4. For instance, he pointed out, “Free whitepaper” scores only a 1 or a 2. But “Just made available: Free whitepaper on reducing hardware costs through software asset management” scores a 3 or a 4.
6. B-to-B direct marketing won’t work without a special offer. “There’s a high perceived value in relationship to cost,” Bly said, referring to one B-to-B marketer’s offer to open a Swiss bank account with an order. That didn’t cost the marketer anything, but the concept of a Swiss bank account gave its customers a high perceived value, so it was a success.
7. Position part of your product as a premium. Don’t sell an eight-tape package; sell six and throw in two “bonus” cassettes, he said.
8. Offer abundant proof to offset doubt. Use testimonials, case studies, number of years in business, number of customers, demos or free trials. Use transubstantiation (making something more than what something is), number of units sold, benchmark test performance, method of operation, features, reviews and awards.
9. Use a positioning metaphor. “This copier is the Rolls Royce of copiers,” he offered as an example.
10. Spin reality with negative selling. “This product has none of this, none of that, etc.,” he suggested.