Focus on the Benefits of the Benefits
Nine-and-a-half years ago, I made a batch of crêpes. More accurately, I attempted to make a batch of crêpes (don’t you just love that little caret symbol — circumflex accent — above the “e”? I know I don’t need to use it, but I’m writing this on a morose Monday and wanted the encouragement).
Crêpes are delicate things. You can’t slap them in the pan like bacon. They mustn’t be jostled. The pan must have a precise coating of butter or oil, so they don’t stick or become greasy, thin pancakes. They require gentle folding and lifting onto a plate. Frankly, I recommend you only speak in murmurs while you’re eating crêpes and apologize to them beforehand for the offense of being chewed.
I am the human opposite of a crêpe — a graceless, dirt-covered stampede on a white carpet — so you understand the peril of this story from the start. I was also eight months pregnant with my second child. My days consisted of throwing up, not sleeping, more throwing up, feeling tired, attempting to care for a household and another child, and struggling to stand in the shower. Each torturous day melted into the next. I felt like a gelatinous lump of uselessness.
So I decided to make crêpes. It was, in a word, disastrous. I improperly oiled the pan. I set the heat too high. I turned the crêpe too quickly. Three sorry attempts in, I lost it. I scraped the disgusting flop of a fake-pancake out of the pan and threw it on the kitchen floor, then burst into tears.
“Mama!” my daughter gasped.
“Sara!” my husband screeched.
A tantrum is no consolation when you’re the one cleaning up the mess you’ve made.
But you can probably guess that a bad batch of crêpes isn’t reason enough to lose it. It came down to a deeper desire — one we all share. I wanted to feel like I was contributing. Capable. Productive. The opposite of a failure. Instead, I felt like the floor-crêpe: busted, useless, and gross. The crêpe-tastrophe only reinforced my tenuous relationship with “(not) being enough” at that time.
And that is the entire point.
When you’re writing to people (and people make up businesses, until the AI apocalypse happens), you’re really writing to their core beliefs and innate needs. You’re writing to their inborn humanity. When you forget that, as most B2B writing does, you end up focusing on the surface. The most obvious benefits of your product or service. The fancy, shiny exterior. The differentiators.
You need to get to the tantrum. The shadowed underside. The reasons people don’t readily admit. The motivators they keep on the down-low. Some positive, some stemming from a scared place of “not being enough.”
To expand on an example from the first post of this series, people don’t search out MarTech or AdTech solutions only because they need to scale their marketing. One of the benefits is increased efficiency. One of the benefits of that benefit is less drudgery and fewer monotonous tasks. Dive deeper: More meaningful work and a more fulfilling life. Better mental health. Time with family and friends and guilty pleasures (banjo playing, crêpe-tossing, lizard catching, etc.). More bandwidth for creativity — the stuff only we can give. A chance to make this one teeny, tiny shot we have at life something that exudes exuberance and simple pleasures and joy.
When you focus less on impressive-sounding jargon in your B2B writing and more on meeting people’s core needs through keen attentiveness to the benefits of the benefits of what you provide — and what your clients really, really need — your writing will be more compelling. So will your product or service.
You don’t have to sell the benefits of the benefits. They sell themselves. Because we’re all searching for the same thing:
(Don’t look at me. I haven’t had the heart to attempt them for the past nine-and-a-half years.)
Check out the rest of this series:
- How to Make B2B Writing More Compelling Part 1: Show Don’t Tell
- How to Make B2B Writing More Compelling Part 2: Drop the Jargon
- How to Make B2B Writing More Compelling Part 3: Be Unprofessional