Writing is hard. Writing about technology is even harder. Do you err on the side of making the fabled Internet basement nerd happy by including ALL the specs? Or, do you ease off a bit and tailor the content for someone’s grandma who wandered onto your site somehow and is now itching to buy some cables, if she could just figure out why she needs them. It’s too easy to say “Write for both.” But, I’m going to do it anyway, and you’re going to understand why by the end of this post. If you don’t, it means you probably haven’t actually read it, which is fair. Skim along, also-fabled Internet skimmer.
Know thy customer
Yeah, I know you’ve heard this one before. Probably more than once. It applies to both owned media and blog posts. It applies to everything you write, and everything you do. When you have a target persona in mind, you’re able to use appropriate language for them. That said, don’t lean too far in either direction, or you risk alienating part of your customer base.
Writing for newbies
When you have an unsophisticated audience checking out your new product, you want to bring them into the fold gently. Give them plenty of action verbs and descriptions to get your point across about what your product does. They should never have to reach for a dictionary to understand your meaning. Use plain language. Imagine speaking to Grandma—would you excitedly tell her about how your product increases ROI by a minimum of 50 percent? Or, would you just mention that your project doubles sales? You don’t need to dumb down the message; you just need to rephrase it.
- Avoid exact data when you can convey meaning without it.
- Avoid excessive jargon and use plain language.
- Use examples and show readers what you’re discussing.
- Walk through the process, especially the part where your product fits in. Don’t assume they’ll just know anything.
Aiming for experience
On the flipside of this, of course, is the worry of not sounding like an expert to B2B customers. You want to be able to show them that you know everything about what they do, and the shortcut to that is to shove a ton of jargon into paragraphs that use shorthand explanations of things. Basically, you’re screaming “Look! I can use big words! All the big, technical words! Love me!” Methinks the marketer doth protest too much to be taken seriously.
B2B purchasers get just as bored of bad, jargon-filled writing as anyone else. The best way to show your expertise is by clearly explaining everything that happens surrounding your project. Don’t take a shortcut—demonstrate your knowledge. It’s good for consumers, good for your products, and even good for search engines. Don’t be afraid of some jargon, but don’t be afraid to explain things.
- Demonstrate expertise by showing knowledge of products and processes.
- Use some commonly accepted jargon, but don’t go too far with it. One term per paragraph is a decent guideline.
- Read it to a colleague if you’re uncertain. They should understand everything, including industry terms.
Walk the tightrope
Of course, there will always be ecommerce sites that sell to both the product specialist and to the person off the street. To reach middle ground, write as if your piece will be seen by B2B readers, but put definitions for any niche terms in parenthesis. It’s not a perfect science, but since you’re explaining everything to your more knowledgeable consumer anyway, you might as well just go a tiny bit further and help out your novice customer anyway.
Don’t forget about design
There are shortcuts for a lot of this. Instead of trying to cram highly technical descriptions, stats and specs into paragraphs, give it up. Separate them into a pull-out box on your website template. They’ll be easily found by those searching for them and easily ignored by those who aren’t.
If this isn’t possible because of the web layout, separate the specs out with a bulleted list. The same design principles apply; it’s just not quite as pretty. When you’re faced with a situation in which you absolutely have to include it in the body of the text, use brackets to keep the eye moving past it.
Remember—targeting your consumer is as easy as knowing them. Once you have that data, you can aim your content right at them. Just remember to aim a bit wider to pick up some customers you weren’t expecting, too.