The B2B Writer, Reader and ‘New to Know’

February 2021

female lawyer doing research

Image: Getty Images

Generating content that appeals to a variety of audiences is among the more perplexing aspects of B2B writing. The high-level, highly scannable copy favored by chief executives likely will disappoint the detail-oriented practitioner in need of instruction, not just insight. That’s why it’s critical the intended audience and/or personas for any content marketing be well defined.

What also is important, and sometimes overlooked, is the writer’s comfort level with a given topic. Does this person have a baseline or advanced understanding of an industry and where a certain solution fits in? Does a piece of content—such as a blog post, white paper or ebook—reflect that understanding? A project’s success may rest on the answers.

‘New to Know’

The work we generate for our Twirling Tiger clients is highly technical and must reflect a level of competency to instill both client and reader trust. To do this, a B2B writer must know the material before attempting to fill a blank page. This means they need to do a lot of upfront research to go from “new to know.”

The amount of time spent reading up on a subject is typically not billable. Instead, it is reflected in an hourly rate or project pricing. The more specialized the subject, the higher the pay rate. Writers should not skip or skimp on research because it is the foundation for all current and future work with a particular client.

Remember too that just because a subject may be new to the writer, it may not be to the client or their target audience. Self-knowledge needs to come through in the copy with accurate, astute observations. If thought leadership is the goal, do not dwell on the past. The client wants novel, forward-thinking content based on expert advice.

Respect people’s time–and talents

Based on the needed groundwork and custom content outline, craft a range of questions and submit them ahead of time to subject matter experts you intend to interview. It’s possible the person you chose is ill equipped to answer these, so don’t waste their time—or yours.

Submitting targeted questions in advance also gives the SME time to consider more thoughtful responses and keep an interview within a prescribed time. A well-run interview saves hours when it’s time to translate what is learned to deliverables.  It’s fine to let an expert know you are “new to know” a subject, so they tailor responses to both you and your target audience’s comprehension levels. It’s also OK to ask for more detail if that person introduces a new phrase, acronym or concept. That is, unless it’s a basic concept you should have grasped by now. There’s a difference between an inquiry and ignorance.

Expand that virtual Rolodex

For repeat business or assignments, try not to dip from the same well too often. You need to continually seek out people “new to know.” Ask for recommendations using your LinkedIn connections. Build a list of bloggers and influencers to follow regularly. Then, when you attempt to connect, you can show familiarity with their work. If you’re a bona fide journalist, you might try HARO, which is monitored by public relations and marketing professionals trying to get their clients in professional publications.

I love the phrase “new to know” because of its versatility. The above are just a few examples of how to apply that expression to improve your writing and build long-term business relationships. By always learning, listening and understanding the expectations of everyone involved in a content marketing project, you’ll maintain a steady flow of work based on excellence, integrity, competency and creativity.

Stay safe,

Anne