Subscriber CO writes:
“Could you talk about the differences between starting a
business-to-business (B2B) copywriting business, versus starting
a copywriting business aimed at direct response
business-to-consumer (B2C) copy?
“Are there differences between getting clients, running the
business etc. Since you write copy for both, I figured you would
have a unique view on this.”
Well, I could write a book about the differences between B2B and
B2C copy — and in fact, I did:
Although it was first published about 20 years ago, I believe you
will find a lot of useful answers to your question in its pages.
But as far as freelance copywriting is concerned, the major
difference between B2B and B2C is the degree of hype, both in
the copy and in the business itself.
Although each industry and in fact each client is different, as a
rule, B2B marketing is more straightforward and has relatively
little hype in it.
By comparison, consumer direct response – depending on the
product, industry, or niche – has a medium to heavy degree of
hype in it.
This hype translates into two major differences in the work for
The first is that in certain product areas – for instance,
selling stock market newsletters to individual investors – the
level of hype for many promoters has skyrocketed into the
For instance, a popular copywriting technique used in financial
promotions, “misdirection,” recommends that you delay mentioning
the product until you are many pages into the sales letter.
By comparison, misdirection is virtually never used in B2B copy,
where success is achieved by clearly and succinctly describing
the precise problem readers have, and then immediately
positioning your product as the best way to solve it.
The second major difference is the mindset of the clients.
In B2B, you are more often than not working with marketing
directors at a corporation – usually straight-up, no-nonsense
executives — selling what they consider a “real” product; e.g.
an industrial pump or water treatment plant.
If you were to show this B2B marketing director your portfolio of
long-copy sales letters written for direct response offers such
as option trading services or dietary supplements, many would
think you are a peddler of B.S. – and they would likely not hire
Conversely, if you show the owner or marketing chief of a
thriving supplement or investment advisory company your
industrial pump brochure, they won’t even recognize it as
“marketing.” They will think you are a technical writer and won’t
The thing both B2B and B2C freelance copywriting have in common
is the client’s desire to hire a copywriter having a portfolio
and experience in their product niche.
For instance, a potential client selling an option trading course
wants to see you have written promotions for other option-related
information products (software, newsletters, books, workshops) or
related areas (real estate, precious metals, stocks, bonds). Not
widgets, chemicals, or soap.
Now, you might well ask, “How can I get my first client in any
area – whether B2B manufacturing or alternatives health – when I
have no experience writing copy for that field?”
The short answer is: Don’t worry. You can.
The long answer I wrote out for you and published as a chapter in
my book on freelancing, “Secrets of a Freelance Writer,” which I
highly recommend to you if you are facing this particular
challenge of breaking into a new copywriting niche or market:
P.S. In case you are wondering, no, I don’t feel scummy or like a
con artist telling you to “buy my book” instead of just giving
you the advice right here … for 3 reasons:
>> First, you can buy a used copy of “Secrets of a Freelance
Writer” on Amazon for just a few bucks. I get no money when
people buy it used. So my recommendation has no profit motive for
>> Second, the reason I write books is to convey information and
provide answers too complex and lengthy to communicate in a short
email. If I could tell you how to break into a field in which you
have no experience in one of these short emails for free, I would
do so. But I can’t.
>> Third, the advice in “Secrets of a Freelance Writer” is based
on nearly 4 decades of copywriting experience and has helped
earn me millions of dollars at my trade. Also the book took me
many months to write. Now Amazon sells it to you for less than
you’d pay for a burger, fries, and Coke at your local
luncheonette. Quite a bargain, no?
I do not believe that sending people to one of my books for
advice is unfair, greedy, or causes them undue hardship. In a
pinch, you can borrow my books from many libraries for free.
This is in sharp contrast to today’s marketing teachers who
charge you $1,000 to attend a seminar where the focus is
upselling you to their $5,000 coaching program or $10,000
mastermind group, right?