“We” may be sabotaging your B2B marketing.

Everyone can write, or so states Yonatan Maisel in his Monday blog “Release Your Innate Business-Shakespeare: How and Why Writing is the Most Indispensable Tool in the Business Arsenal.” He aptly points out that this is not true of any profession other than writing — airline pilot, attorney, brain surgeon, plumber.

Not all writing, however, is the same.

Business people who are very good at communicating on paper often do not write direct, compelling, result-generating B2B marketing messages. This is plainly evident on many B2B Web sites, marketing emails, direct mail letters, product brochures, and other B2B marketing messages. The copy reads well. It uses good grammar and it is understandable.

What the copy does not do is employ all the tactics that have proven to generate a response, a click thru, a phone call, or a download.

About UsIf B2B marketers want to quickly determine if their messaging is not living up to best practices, all they need do is scan their copy for the word “we.” The appearance of the word “we” instantly says, “This company cares more about its name and reputation than it does about serving its customers.”

Marketers may not think that about the company they work for at all. But the moment they use the word “we” in the marketing copy, they project that self-focused image.

It is important to include a credibility statement in marketing messages –number of years in business, customers served, testimonials, etc. — but not until after the prospect has presumably been convinced that the product being sold or the offer being made has value, and never in the opening sentence.

So, I advise marketers to look for the word “we” on their Web sites, in their emails, direct mail, brochures, etc. If they see it, it’s time for a rewrite.

3 replies
  1. Dave J.
    Dave J. says:

    Don’t know where I learned it, but I watch for ‘we’ when I write (along with ‘needs’). But you are right, it’s probably a red flag that more than just the one word is wrong…your whole approach is.

    Reply
  2. Kimmo Linkama
    Kimmo Linkama says:

    You’re striking a chord here. I think the overuse of “we” is the biggest mistake B2B marketers make by a wide margin.

    The prospect couldn’t be less interested in how excellent you are, she wants to know What’s In It For Me (you may have seen the acronym WIIFM before).

    I wrote more about this very topic in my blog at http://linkama.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/what-marketers-should-learn-from-human-relationships/ if you wish to take a look.

    Reply
  3. Melissa Paulik
    Melissa Paulik says:

    Totally agree! That’s one of the reasons it’s so frustrating to have your copy rewritten by someone who thinks they understand marketing. The commandeering of your copy is usually prefaced by something like, “You didn’t say enough about us…”

    Reply

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