Project Description

October 2020

Creative Corner

Alastair Puddick
Alastair PuddickSenior copywriter

Writing for B2B audiences? Pick up a Lee Child novel

Whatever you’re writing for B2B audiences, it needs to be engaging, readable and entertaining. So, how do you do that? You could learn a thing or two from a thriller writer.

There’s a problem with a lot of B2B writing: It’s not always very easy to read. How often have you clicked on the latest business blog only to be visually assaulted by a really long sentence, the kind of long-winded tome, packed with technical terminology and marketing buzzwords, that just seems to go on for ever until you can’t believe you’re actually still reading the same sentence and, just when you think, surely, it must be coming to an end, the writer throws in a few more commas, and a series of extra thoughts and then maybe an en dash – to really pack more in – and then you think, right they must be finishing soon, but no, it’s still going and… Well, you get the point.

Not very inviting, is it? And chances are, the audience will quickly tune out. So how can you keep people interested? Stand out from the crowd? And get your points across in a way that invites people to click your link, download your whitepaper or fill in your data capture form? You could learn a few lessons from world famous thriller writer, and creator of the Jack Reacher series, Lee Child.

No, seriously I mean it

Okay, you’re wondering how reading crime thrillers can help you write a blog post about supply chain management, 5G networks or database procurement. I’m not suggesting you throw in a murder or gripping plot twist (although that would make it stand out). It’s all about structure. Writing in an engaging way. Creating something that’s equally entertaining as it is informative. And that’s where Lee Child comes in.

Since his debut novel, Child has been renowned for his succinct, no nonsense writing style. Short sentences. Perfectly placed and constructed. Machine gun rounds of thoughts. Packing pace and energy. And keeping the reader wanting more. By following a few simple rules, you can write like Child and keep your B2B audience on the on the edge of their high-backed, ergonomic swivel chairs…

  1. Add a bit of pace

Mixing up the length of your sentences makes your writing more dynamic. Write a few short sentences. Then add medium length ones with more packed in. Then, when you have the readers’ attention, and want to make a bigger point, write a longer sentence that tells more of a story. Mixing it up like this adds pace and variety to your prose. It keeps people interested. And it makes a far more interesting piece to read. Seriously.

  1. Write like you speak

Your readers are not businesses, they’re people. So, speak to them like people. Write in a warm, friendly, conversational style and your writing will be more welcoming. It will also be easier to understand.

  1. Forget what you learned at school

You were probably taught never to start sentences with ‘but’, ‘because’ or ‘and’. But you need to forget these ‘rules’. Because they’re outdated and impractical. And they stop you from writing clear, interesting sentences that flow naturally. It will also help with point 2.

  1. Don’t overload the technical talk

You don’t need big words and business jargon to make you sound intelligent or knowledgeful. Nobody was ever upset by someone getting to the point quickly. Or spelling out their argument in an easy-to-understand manner. So, keep it simple. Your readers will thank you for it.

  1. Keep it short

Don’t use 20 words when eight will do.

  1. Read it out loud

Check whether your writing is easy to read by reading it out loud. If it’s hard to do, or if you run out of breath mid-sentence, go back and edit. And get a colleague to double check it for you. They might spot something you’ve missed.

So, there you have it. Follow these tips and your writing will sing. People will enjoy reading it. And they’ll definitely* buy whatever you’re selling.

*Okay, I can’t actually promise this.

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