B2B Marketing: You shouldn't need a dictionary to read about technology

Believe it or not, business-to-business marketing copy written about technology CAN be easy to readand understand. Here's the key: Use words people know, and kickthe geek-speak and marketing mumbo-jumbo to the curb (notice I didn'tsay, "Laymanize the manuscript").

Of course, the main thing is to know your audience. If you're writing a brochure to promote all the killer iPhone games your company has created -- and you'll be handing it out at GeekCon2013: The Mobile App Design and Development Expo -- feel free to mention objective-c and XCode; talk about your adherence to scrum methodology; or explain how your engineers usepliststo make your games more data drivenand flexible. Otherwise, stick to basic English.

How many times have you read a business website and come away without understanding what, exactly, it is they do? Cloud computing companies come to mind, but it happens all the time, in every industry imaginable. A lot of this stems from the desire to come across as a smarty pants ... I mean,thought leader. But heavy use of industry jargon (or my pet peeve: saying "utilize" when you can just say "use") isn't smart; it's distracting.

Here are some examples that show how much better it is to write in plain English than it is to pepper copy with industry jargon and “smarty pants” words:

  • Instead of mission critical,say very important.
  • Instead ofthe functional requirements of the website are as follows...,saythis is what the website should do.
  • Instead of...facilitates person-to-person collaboration,saymakes working together easy.
  • Instead ofutilize,sayuse.
I’m sure you have examples of your own, but the examples above are just some that I’ve come across recently. Clearly, the goal of writing B2B marketing copy is to get your message across. Which means your reader should be able to understand it, without thinking – and definitely without a dictionary. Perhaps this is easier said than done, but it’s a key to effective, engaging, and persuasive writing.

My (unsolicited) words of wisdom for B2B tech marketing writers? Just say it!


Karen Hittelman is a freelance copywriter specializing in B2B marketing and corporate communications.

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