As a (mainly) B2C copywriter, I get to indulge my creative side. I get to poke it and tickle it. I set it free into a vast, open landscape filled with weird and wonderful creations that blur the reality of what we know with the possibilities we lust after.

When the words flow freely across the great brain-plains, it’s possible to feel mightier than a rainbow-retching, glitter-shitting unicorn.

Oh, yes. It can be glorious. And EMPOWERING!

But (a lot of the time) it can also be a soul-draining pit of procrastination and fear.

What if the business’ consumers don’t like it?

What if they don’t get it?

What if it gets ripped to shit on social media?

WHAT IF I PUT A FREAKIN’ COMMA IN THE WRONG PLACE?!

Yeah. So there’s plenty to worry about.  

With all those anxiety-inducing thoughts freshly in mind and inspired by Lorrie Hartshorn’s post, The 5 most common B2B writing mistakes, here’s my take on the 4 most common B2C writing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Unsubstantiated claims

If I got an Aussie dollar for every website I visited that said “We’re the #1 store for BLAH”, or “We’re the BIGGEST online retailer of BLAH”, I’d be rich. Even with the pitiful exchange rate.

Unfortunately, many B2Cs seem to think flouncing a headline that proclaims them as the biggest, bestest, totally unique-est store, will win them sales.

Little do they know that Cassandra, who’s shopping for said BLAH, has visited six other online stores before reaching that one. And, oddly, all of them claimed to be number one.

Cassandra smells something….shitty. And a bit like bull.

Truth is, not everyone can be ‘the largest’, ‘the original’, or ‘Number 1’. There will be be only one company who can legitimately tout that headline. And if you ain’t got the evidence to substantiate that claim, well…

And Cassandra will know it.

*Poof*

That was consumer trust vanishing into thin air.

There’s always more interesting USPs — ones that can be substantiated — so you can showboat your awesomeness. Delivery times, exclusive sales or products, rewards. Blimey, even the location of a B2C can be a differentiator!

As a copywriter, if a B2C client pushes you to write sweeping-statement gubbins as a headline, push back. Their bottom line and brand reputation will thank you for it.

2. Making in jokes

What’s funny in the office between workmates, might not be funny to your audience.

You know all those cringe-worthy stories about B2C brands who posted something on social, only for it to backfire and turn into a PR nightmare? My gut tells me most of them started as office LOLs. Then Linda (who describes herself as “the zany one”) pipes up with:

“OMG, we have to use this in our marketing and share the joke with our audience, because it’s totes hilar!”

No, Linda. That’s a dumb AF idea because you mid-30s women in the office are not seeing life in the same way as the 18-24 y/o women you’re trying to market to.

I’m all for using content to have a laugh with your audience, but use words, phrases and references you’ve seen your audience use and reference. Less chance then of it blowing up in your face.

3. Not everything has to be the greatest thing you’ve ever written

Letting that untameable beast we call Creativity off the leash is part of the fun of being a B2C writer. But when it doesn’t want to run free, it can also be the bastard that holds you up.

Your vision is clear. You want to draft a beautiful, eloquent example of copy that displays your skills and prompts light-laughter and appreciation from your audience.

Unfortunately, your Creativity beast is too busy picking its own toenails. It doesn’t want to play. Instead, your draft becomes a lonely, brain-ache exercise full of procrastination and the creeping appearance of Imposter Syndrome as you attempt to defeat the eternal blink of the cursor.

Dreaming up the clever, emotive one-liner that could send your audience into a rose throwing, used-underwear lobbing frenzy doesn’t have to happen with every bit of copy you write.

Unfortunately, sometimes a 16mm aluminium screw is just a 16mm aluminium screw. There’s no pretty or funny way to dress it up. That’s OK. Let it go. Say what it does on tin and move on. (A lot like this point.)

I believe this is a page in the B2B copywriting handbook more of us B2C writers should remind ourselves of.

4. Red text and caps

There are some messages we really need Jo Public to understand immediately.

Ramming that message down their throat by WRITING IT IN CAPS or putting it in red font (or combining the two) isn’t the way to do it.

My response: WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT ME IN AN ANGRY VOICE?

*Bursts into tears and runs away.*

Everything about it looks aggressive. It implies that the writer thinks Jo Public is (as my Dad used to say) is thick as two short planks.

I can’t fathom why some B2C writers think this is a good idea? Seriously. I’ve racked my brains and the only thing I can come up with is that anyone who does this is just…a douche. And doesn’t respect their human audience.

There are other, subtler, friendlier ways. Like putting it in italics. A slightly larger font. *Putting cute asterisks* around it. Writing in a conversational, yet firm, style.

Or position that message as a stand-alone line or paragraph on the page.

What B2C writing mistakes did I miss?

If you’re a B2C writer reading this (oh, procrastination!) what do you reckon I’ve missed off the list?

Hit me up with your thoughts in the comments or tweet me.

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