Writing is fundamental. Most things begin with writing.
If you want your business to flourish, thrive and benefit from increased sales (which I’m guessing you do), then writing effective B2B copy is something that you’ll need to do.
If your writing abilities aren’t up to par, then finding a B2B copywriter is your next best step.
But if you’re not a great writer, how will you know if you’ve found a good B2B copywriter?
Difference Between B2C and B2B Copywriting
Knowing this difference is the first step in determining whether or not you’ve got a bonafide copywriter on your hands or just someone who’s faking it ’til they make it.
The difference in audience changes everything about the copy – when you write for consumers (B2C), you tap into their emotions. As consumers, we buy things because we want to, not because we need to.
B2B copywriting addresses the challenges and pain points that businesses face, thus creating the need to purchase your product or service. Effective B2B copywriting can ultimately:
- Improve your company’s reputation
- Make the marketing process more cost efficient
- Give you a competitive edge
- Boost your profitability!
Looking for a B2B copywriter means more than just hiring excellent writing skills; the ideal candidate needs solid business acumen, the ability to understand your business swiftly and an understanding of how to sell and market your services to your audience appropriately.
Content development is hard enough but finding the right copywriter doesn’t have to be a challenge too. With that, here are the key questions you should be asking a potential copywriter – plus the answers to listen for to know if they’re a good fit.
Finding the Right Writer
You’re looking for a writer so making sure they actually have great writing skills is important. Even though I’m pointing out the obvious, you’d be amazed at how many people present well and have great resumes but lack real aptitude for writing.
To determine the caliber of writing skills, ask these questions:
- What types of content do you write?
- Writers with B2B writing experience will be familiar with white papers, e-books, email campaigns, ad copy, datasheets, website copy and corporate blogging (to name a few). A good freelance copywriter is capable of writing more than one content type but listen for which assets they emphasize the most to make sure they can fulfill your content needs.
- What industries have you written for?
- The answer here shouldn’t be “every industry”. If that’s the case, the writer is spreading themselves too thin and let’s face it, they might be okay at writing about every industry but they won’t be great at writing about everything. Ask them for relevant writing samples to see if their strengths align with your content needs.
- Describe the tone you’re most comfortable writing in.
- What you’re looking for here is whether or not the writer can adapt their tone to yours (if you’ve determined a content style already). If they use language that matches the content style you’re looking for, it probably means they’ve taken the time to read your existing content and distill style and tone on their own. This means they’re good at adapting tone on a client by client basis – which is a honed skill that comes with lots of B2B writing experience.
- What is your first draft copy usually like?
- This is how you weed out the great writers from the average writers who had really great copy editors. Assuming they honestly answer this question, what you’re looking for here is how they handle the revision process. What mistakes are they being asked to fix? Grammar? Spelling? Even fact checking? If so, those are major red flags and you should move on to the next.
- Can I see some samples?
- This is a given but keep in mind that sometimes the samples you receive can be edited versions.
The Writing Process
To know if you’ll work well together, you’ll need to know more about how a copywriter approaches the writing project.
- What is your research methodology?
- Unless the candidate is already an industry expert, assume that they will need to do (at a minimum) some cursory research to learn more about your product or service. What publications and resources will they use to create your content? Consider whether they’re citing reputable sources, and whether they have an actual process in place.
- How do you communicate during projects?
- What you’re looking for here is whether or not they are interested in your communication style during projects – if you prefer status updates throughout, they should be happy to oblige but if you only want to hear from them when they have questions or the job is done, then that should work for them as well.
- How do you handle revisions?
- A great copywriter is nice but a great copywriter, editor and collaborator is even better. This question helps you find out how they execute to instructions and how they deal with constructive criticism.
Test Their Writing Skills
You’d be surprised how many hiring managers don’t do this but it’s essential to test potential copywriters with real-life examples of work they’ll do for your company.
Start by asking for a cover letter, instead of a resume so you can see how they explain their experiences, passions and why they want to work for you. If they can’t sell themselves to you through their words, how will they help you sell your products?
Give them a project trial and be sure it includes practical applications of what you’d like them to do for you.
If you’re looking for someone to write website copy, don’t ask them to write an email campaign for you. Focus on the specific skill set you need so you can really see how they’ll approach your assignments.
Remember that writers rarely get it right on the first time.
Give potentials a chance to refine their work, based on your feedback – again, this goes back to how well you will work together in the long-run.
There you have it – the non-writer’s guide to finding a B2B copywriter. The process doesn’t have to be complex, just thorough.
Fostering strong writing within your team (in-house or freelance) takes time but the results will most certainly be worth the extra effort on your part. You can’t become the go-to resource in your niche if people don’t want to read your content – and creating engaging content means you need someone with great writing skills.
What other tips for finding a B2B copywriter do you have to share? Let me know in a comment below!