When 'Boring' B2B Copy Actually Works

Credit: Pexels by Rodolfo Clix

A recent article in ANA Business Marketing SmartBrief promulgates the old saw that B2B copy is boring.

The author, a Madison Avenue creative director, says an important step in eliminating the “B-to-Boring” stereotype is to “earn the attention of audiences by creating interesting content.”

But, I ask … interesting to whom?

The reason so many advertising types say B2B is “boring” and dull is that they find the subject matter boring. And it is — to them — because they are not the target audience for the ad. They are not the prospects for the product being advertised, so it is of no interest to them. And frequently, they don’t understand the product or the problem it solves at all.

But it doesn’t matter that the copy is boring to them and their fellow ad agency compatriots. What matters is that, in a successful B2B ad, the copy is NOT boring to the intended audience. Rather, that it is interesting to the reader. And readers of B2B copy are often not the same as lay folks.

They often have specialized knowledge based on education or their work, or both. And they need to buy things for their work a lay reader does not need.

The success of their business, and their success on the job, frequently depends on buying the product that is best for a particular application. Which makes B2B buying a “considered purchase.” Something they really must think through carefully. This is in sharp contrast to many consumer purchases — such as fast food, shampoo, other low-priced items that are “impulse buys.”

For instance, my friend JA, who had a successful industrial ad agency, had a client that made acid-resistant bricks.

The bricks were used to line metal process vessels to enable them to contain sulfuric. Without the brick lining, the acid eats away at the metal tank containing it.

The prospects for the bricks were virtually all engineers and plant managers, and the latter all had an engineering degree.

So, JA created an ad that outperformed all previous ads the company had run for the product.

The headline:

Handling Sulfuric Acid.

You may find that exceedingly dull, pedantic, and totally lacking in emotional appeal.

But engineers in sulfuric acid plants responded in droves, because it identified and promised a solution to one of their most pressing problems: safely storing a strong acid.

Also, the headline implied that the engineer would learn something just by reading the ad, whether he bought the product or not. “Handling Sulfuric Acid” feels like content marketing, not sales copy.

Some of JA’s colleagues in other ad agencies said that the ad — especially the headline — was indeed “boring.”

But, you must always ask in creating B2B advertising … boring to whom?