9 Copywriting Tips for Manufacturer and B2B E-COMMERCE Websites

Manufacturers don't need copywriters, right?

Ummm....wrong.

Why? Let's go back to the basics to figure this out. What is the purpose of copywriting?

To write WORDS THAT SELL. So if you have something to sell - you need a copywriter.

Simple as that.

True, you aren't marketing to the average guy on the street. But retailers, wholesalers and distributors also need convincing. Why should they carry your product as opposed to your competitor's? And if it's something no one else makes - how do they know their customers will be interested in buying it?

But here's a little secret: most manufacturers fail MISERABLY at being convincing. Here's what they're doing wrong - and how you can be different.


Copy Fail #1: Sell to the wrong person

Your engineer isn't buying your products. Neither is the product developer. So why is your website full of stuff that only interests them?

"Our products are engineered to exceed rigorous NIJ standards."

"The units are lined with a heavy-duty non-woven polypropylene geotextile."

Pssst. Little secret here. Even product buyers are humans. In the words of Jennifer Forget:

"B2B doesn’t need to be more conservative or buttoned up than B2C. That’s just a marketing excuse for not taking risks with an audience we don’t understand. 

B2B doesn’t have to be so technical you need a Ph.D. to make sense of the copy. We’re crafting ads, not instruction manuals. 

B2B never has to be boring. The idea is to turn something technical into something that is simple, relatable and breakthrough."

Just tell them how your product will BENEFIT them as a seller. Leave the details to the footnotes, where the people who care about it can find it.


Copy Fail #2: Assume that you're the only choice

Because you're not. In the Internet Age, NO ONE is safe from competition. Did you know that 71% of B2B buyers start with a generic online search query?

That means if your website isn't compelling and SEO optimized, you're missing out on 71% of potential customers. Even if you've got a patent on your design, chances are, there's something else out there similar enough to be competition. And even if most of your sales are high-ticket and closed in person, a bad website means you’re losing many potential hot leads.

So if you're still selling as if there's no other choice (meaning, you don't really bother with marketing or copywriting), then you need to hire a copywriter - fast.


Copy Fail #3: Be formal

No one wants to see yet another stiff "leaders in kitchen manufacturing" headline. Get over it - people like real. People like human.

This is ESPECIALLY true in manufacturing. Your buyers are not just getting one product - they're placing large orders for items that were probably produced thousands of miles away.

You need to build trust. And what's the best way to do that? Talk to them. Communicate real stuff, so they feel safe with you. They know that you're a big boy; you don't have to prove that to them.

Showcase your human side. Use everyday language.

Have a team page with down-to-earth introductions to your team members. I know you're scared to break the mold. What will all your cool dude manufacturing buddies think of it?

Do it. Then watch as your conversion rate skyrockets.


Copy Fail #4: Generic, Meaningless Website Headlines

"Your number one global resource for quality, innovation, dependability and distribution."

1) It tells me NOTHING

A headline has 3 seconds to tell me:

  • What does the company make?

  • What's special about it?

  • How can it help me?

The above headline, though, could literally be written about any big manufacturing company in the world.

2) Non-specific Adjectives.

Why should I believe you? Tell me exactly how you personify that adjective. Replace "quality" with "Parts that don't have to be replaced every few months." Replace innovation with "Uniquely shaped items created FAST using our 3-D printing methods." Replace dependable with "The order will be on your doorstep in 3 weeks - no exceptions!"

3) Too Broad

If you try to convey everything in one line, you'll convey absolutely nothing. Hone in on the ONE THING that really makes you stand out, and focus only on that.

The rest? Save it for later in the page.


Copy Fail #5: Forget the main point.

Yes, your product is innovative. Yes, it's great quality. Yes, you have awesome customer service.

SO WHAT?

I want to know one thing, and one thing only: Will your product solve my problem? If that isn't clear to me at the very beginning of the website, video, or brochure, you've lost me.

Make commercial refrigerators? Tell me my store products will stay cold and fresh.

Make custom furniture? Tell me I'll get a living room that looks exactly like my dream.

Sure you can let me know that your product is biodegradable, or has won many awards, or is the most affordable. But save it for AFTER you've told me how you solve my problem.


Copy Fail #6: Website Sliders

Wait, isn't that design? What does that have to do with copy?

Because if you don't have time to READ the copy, it might as well not be there!

Focus, focus, focus. That's the #1 ingredient of powerful copy that compels the reader to act. Give them five messages at once (with no time to read any of them)? They'll click "x" faster than you jump out of the dentist's chair.

And when about 50% of manufacturer sites I've visited have sliders, it's time to tell it straight: Sliders be gone!


Copy Fail #7: Boast "Over 20 years of experience" on the front page.

This isn't a job interview. The number of years you've been producing will have very little (if any) bearing on my decision to get your product. Maybe you've been making junk for 20 years.

Testimonials? Yes. Authentic product reviews? Of course! 35 years of experience? Uh uh. Even if you add that you're a "leading manufacturer."

All I want to know is: What makes your product so awesome? Why do I need it?

Stick to those questions. Forget everything else.

Caveat: This article refers specifically to manufacturers! In service professions, such as psychotherapy, experience can often be a clincher and SHOULD be featured prominently.


Copy Fail #8: Gobbledegook Instruction Manuals

Just 'cuz I already bought your product doesn't mean you can get all lazy on me! And by lazy I mean using Google translate to change those Chinese instructions into English.

I'll get annoyed at your company. Really annoyed. Who cares, you say? Here's why it should matter to you.

  • It means you're gonna get a lot of frustrated customers screaming at your poor customer service reps

  • If I can't figure out how to use your product properly, there's a big chance I'll return it.

  • If I can't return it? You can forget about me ever buying from you again.

So do yourself a favor. Make sure the instructions can be understood by a fourth grader. Extra points if you make it fun to read. And please, please, don't just put a vague diagram!

Not sure how to do it? Check out any of the X for Dummies books and you'll see how ANYTHING can be clear and fun, even if it's technical.


Copy Fail #9: Treat your customers like an algorithm

Sure, SEO-optimization is great for getting customers ONTO your site. But that won't keep them there, or clinch the sale.

Did you know that 74% of sales go to the first company that was HELPFUL?

So if Google loves your site, but it isn't written and structured to be genuinely helpful - you can say goodbye to all those sales.

How to make your site helpful?

Put valuable information that potential customers can use even if they haven't purchased anything yet. So if you're a food packaging manufacturer targeting food manufacturers, have some tips on food packaging in general. Most importantly, show the customer "I get you". Touch upon their pain points and give them empathy. Because we all want to work with people who understand our needs.

And of course, make it very easy to reach a real, live human - whether through chat, fast email response, or phone calls. Give them a positive experience, and they'll come back to you for more.


Not sure if your copy is up to par? Reach out today for a web audit!


Chavy Helfgott