Six Things I Know about B2B Conference Copy

4 01 2011

A colleague recently forwarded me a post called, “Six things I know for sure about marketing to engineers”, by Robert Bly. Robert happens to be a copy writer and an engineer, so he boiled down 10 years of writing copy for engineers into 6 tips. Engineers happen to be a primary market for a lot of B2B conferences and as always copy writing is a hot topic in most of our offices!
 
Here’s a summary of Robert’s summary and what it could mean for your event:
 
1) Engineers look down on advertising and advertising people, for the most part
 
So avoid the fluff, don’t make it look like advertising, appeal to them by adding value to their work life, in fact add more value than you can capture. Use content to filter your audience for relevancy and move them up your advocacy ladder. Just make sure the content is valuable, make it remarkable, and maybe they will share it? 
 
2) Engineers do not like a “consumer approach”. (They prefer to be approached as knowledgeable, technical professional in search of solutions to engineering problems)
 
Acknowledge their expertise early, avoid looking like a piece of consumer marketing, avoid stock photography,

3) The engineer’s purchase decision is more logical than emotional (Rather they carefully weigh the facts, make comparisons and buy based on what product best fulfills the requirement)
 
Again the facts: How many hours of education, how many CPE points, how many case studies, which ones are new, how is this event better to other options! Exhibit an understanding of their problem and show them the how attending your event solves the problem. 
 
4) Engineers want to know the features and specifications, not just the benefits
 
Again the facts….give them all the details. Don’t be afraid of the length of the copy. If it’s good copy, relevant, informative, they will read it. 
 
5) Engineers are not turned off by jargon—in fact, they like it (Use jargon, speak their language) 
 
I think this is the biggest fallacy of all. I have often heard copy experts tell producers and marketers to turn down the jargon, one consultant even presented a “fog” index created by jargon. I say turn up the jargon, your letter should only make sense to your target audience, they should be the only ones that get it, you need to be part of their secret club and speak their secret language. It shows that you get it! Also worth remembering that they will probably search using these terms.  All that said (especially if you are working in a multi language market) you should beware your own local expressions and colloquialisms – this is not the same thing as technical universal industry language.  

6) Engineers have their own visual language (It tells them straight away this is solid technical information, not fluff!)
 
A picture still tells a thousand words. One of our most popular pieces of content and one of our most successful subject lines ever is about a “fish bone diagram”! The right chart or image will tell your audience in seconds that you get it!
 
I like Bob’s tips, straight to the point, factual, logical, just like an engineer. Whilst some of the tips might break the typical copy rules for many events I think they highlight the most important rule of all – Keep your audience in mind. Start with them, how do they communicate, where do they communicate, and build a compelling story that talks their language. It’s really that simple! (and remember to spell check!)

Can anyone come up with 6 tips for copy writing to Bankers, CEO’s, CFO’s or marketers???

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