B2B Copywriting and the $20 Million Toaster
When writers ask me how big the B2B copywriting market is, I usually quote a statistic from the most authoritative source I know: the Business Marketing Association (BMA).
According to the BMA, Business-to-Business companies in the U.S. spend approximately $85 billion a year to promote their goods and services.
That’s such a big honkin’ number that I usually get a few “wows” from the audience.
But what does that number really mean?
It’s so big that it’s difficult to put into perspective. How does $85 billion break down into a real opportunity for a writer who is interested in pursuing this fun and very profitable niche?
Well, to answer that question, I’m going to introduce another example I often use in seminars and teleclasses: the $20 million toaster.
A toaster is, of course, a consumer item. It’s Business-to-Consumer, or B2C.
(Okay, you can argue that there are some commercial toasters for restaurants that are classified as B2B, but stay with me here!)
You can probably guess which marketing materials are needed to promote a toaster to consumers.
- Copy and graphics for the box.
- A brief product description for use on retailer websites, flyers, and other advertising.
- Maybe a TV commercial.
That’s about it.
But if you take a closer look, you’ll discover that isn’t it at all.
That’s because, behind those few marketing pieces created to promote that toaster to consumers, there are dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of marketing materials produced to sell a wide range of products and services to the toaster manufacturer.
Here’s what I’m getting at …
Think about the box the toaster comes in. Who made that?
Well, that box was probably custom-made by a specialty packaging company. And that company — a B2B company — uses a full spectrum of marketing materials to convince manufacturers to buy their packaging designs — everything from online banner ads, sales letters, emails, and websites to customer success stories, press releases, and even online videos.
And that’s just the packaging.
What about the electronic gizmo inside the toaster that senses when the toast is done to perfection? (Well, in theory anyway!) Who made that? Not the toaster manufacturer. The creation of that electronic gizmo is farmed out to an electronics design company.
And to sell its designs, that company continually produces brochures, web pages, landing pages, online demos, newsletter articles, autoresponders, ads, and so forth.
Then there’s the sales training company brought in to give seminars to the toaster manufacturer’s sales force. (Hey, the toaster market is competitive. They need all the help they can get!)
And what does that sales training company do to land clients like that toaster manufacturer? They churn out web pages, online videos, brochures, white papers, case studies, articles, proposals, and … well … you get the drill by now!
A LOT of marketing materials; all of which needs to be written.
Written by whom? Written by copywriters who:
- Understand how to persuade business buyers.
- Can explain business products and services in an accurate, informative, and compelling manner.
- Know the “rules” of writing effective B2B copy for a wide range of project types. (This is a must.)
Sure, there’s work available writing copy for toasters (and other consumer products). But there is a lot more work — fun and very profitable work — writing for those B2B companies who work behind-the-scenes to get those toasters to the market in the first place.
In fact, according to InfoUSA.com, there are more than 5.6 million B2B companies in the U.S. Chances are there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of these potential clients in your area.
One thing’s for sure. You’ll never run out of B2B prospects!
So if you’ve been looking for a niche — one that pays well and for which there is a high demand for copywriters — take a closer look at the B2B market.
You may need some additional copywriting training to break into this field. But, in my opinion, the effort is worth it.
Do you have any questions about the B2B market? Post them in the comments below so we can get you the answers you need.
[Editor’s Note: Revised on August 1, 2018]
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This is a great reminder about the tentacles that make up a business. Most people haven't got a clue how much work goes into a product or service. And with big success people sometimes take pot shots. Today's New York Times ATF headline for example: "The Downsides to Apple's 1 Trillion Dollar Valuation." Clueless, entitled. No wow! No 'good for you Tim at all you techies, suppliers, USERS even!' BUT. Your flip-side in this piece, digging around the story...the cure and future antidote. Thanks Steve!
So having a niche of B2B is specific enough? I don’t need to narrow it down more than that?