Communication is essential to being human. To communicate in a way that results in action is essential to B2B marketing.
The History of Language
Millennia ago, Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans roamed the Earth.
Neanderthals’ brains were wired to react to the senses. If someone screamed “FIRE!” at a Neanderthal, without the proper stimuli to warn him, he would have no clue what was happening until the flames had engulfed the surrounding area and choked all oxygen from the air.
Luckily, the brains of Early Modern Humans evolved to be able to turn sound into thought, and thought into symbols. Those symbols turned into words and they assigned them meaning.
The foundation of Communication Theory is our ancestor’s ability to learn to communicate through symbolic sound. It’s why certain words elicit certain emotions in us. It’s why a red hexagon is a universal symbol to “STOP”. It’s why when someone screams “FIRE!”, panic erupts even before the flames do.
It’s why marketers can spend hours on one word in their marketing copy, determining if it sends the right message–the one that’ll flip the switch in the reader’s brain and inspire them to make a call.
But it goes deeper than simple persuasion, reaching down to a level that taps into an instinctual ringing of the bells–a phrase or message that inspires movement, haste, and action.
Language and Tone of B2B Marketing Copy
Copy Marketing in the B2B universe is a huge shift from the B2C universe. Can you think of a commercial for an MSP company or distribution services?
In his blog on B2B Marketing, Richard Brush, Managing Director of Base One says:
“In B2B, marketing communications has a more complex role. Brand building has to be more sophisticated. The changes in feelings, thoughts and actions we are trying to achieve are much more complex.”
Brush uses the subtle relationship between the word “sales” and “marketing,” to explain further. He explains how the two are inherently connected, but having two separate words doesn’t quite describe what the process is to B2B marketing. A marketer doesn’t begin a piece of content marketing with “we sell (insert favorite infomercial product here)”. Rather, a B2B marketer is informing, inviting, and captivating potential clients without clumsily falling into direct sales propositions.
Why? Because the average consumer is much smarter than they were 20 years ago, and even the right proposition at the wrong time can kill a sale.
It’s habitually wired in our brains to react to words and tone. Pinning down the right subconscious response your prospective clients have when reading particular words is what will make your marketing copy efforts successful.
The Right Language Makes or Breaks Your Deals.
According to the Institute of General Semantics, a branch of Communication Theory, how we interpret language affects our behavior.
More often than not, words are subjective. The language you use in your marketing copy depends heavily on who your target audience is. Potential clients are going to look for language that fits the criteria of what they need at that time.
If you’re selling insurance, you might consider avoiding words that are connected with gambling and risk taking. Words and phrases such as, “putting it all on the line” or “chance,” and “bet” are subconscious red flags in the mind of a customer who’s looking for a way to protect their investments. (Read our blog post on improving customer engagement.)
The customer already knows what they’re looking for, so it’s your job to know who you’re marketing to and use the right language. By simply strategizing what words you use – “protect,” “safeguard,” “trusted”- the potential client will interpret those words to mean that your insurance company is going to defend their investments.
The reader’s interpretation and feeling of assurance is what will affect their behavior. If you played the phrases right in your marketing copy, they’ll pick up the phone and call.
Your marketing copy is no place to get lazy with your language. In fact, it’s the opposite. Strong language, tone, and a deeper understanding of their effect on behavior is vital to growing your client list. It’s a learning process, but it’s proven to work.
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