One Trick for Better B2B Headlines

by Patrick Woods on

How to Write Headlines Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This article originally appeared on my Medium Blog.

Startups have to write a lot, especially those in B2B categories. Cranking out blog posts, product launches, and various types of emails is tough. In the whirlwind of deadlines and KPIs, it’s easy to lose site of the people on the other side of those emails.

But when that happens, you find yourself on the slippery slope of brand narcissism, losing all touch with customer empathy.

But effective writing is customer-centric and helps to answer the So What? of your business. The problem is that much B2B writing is self-centered and doesn’t help customers view themselves in the company’s narrative.

This is evident in headlines like “The easiest way to send transactional emails” or “Increased productivity for teams.” They’re trying to speak to customer benefits, but fail to draw the customer in.

In her book Everybody Writes, Ann Handley , Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, among other things, shares a tip that I’ve found incredibly clear and immediately actionable for avoiding self-centered copy. She says:

Use a customer-centric POV. Replace I or we with you to shift the focus to the customer’s point of view. Then write (or rewrite) accordingly.

She follows with several examples, including:

Company-centric: We offer accelerated application development.

Customer-centric: Deploy an app to the cloud at lunch hour. And still have time to eat. (From the home page of


Company-centric: A Better Way to Learn How to Cook.

Customer-centric: Become a Cook in 30 Days

You can see how the customer-centric examples are talking to real people about problems the company can solve. You can also see that these headlines are just more interesting, providing a rich point of departure for the remaining copy.

Take a look at your homepage. Does it read more like the company-centric examples, or the customer-centric ones? How can you take the benefits you’ve already highlighted and reframe the the insight with the customer front and center?

As you implement this thinking, you’ll find that an empathic approach will help you connect with customers and differentiate from others your B2B category.

The demand of content production probably won’t ease up anytime soon, but with the customer as your guiding light, you can at least ensure your team’s efforts are all pointed in the same direction and that you’re telling a cohesive and customer-centric story.

Good luck! Please comment any questions below, or tweet me @patrickjwoods.

Still need help? I’m offering free 30-minute Google Hangout office hour sessions to take questions about startup branding and messaging. No strings attached. Complete this form if that interests you.

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