True story…

I was working at an ad agency (not my current one) and was in an initial client meeting with a man that sold cleaning equipment to businesses. He was lamenting that his business was slow and I asked him what kind of advertising/marketing he had done in the past.

He told me he had not done much. Imagine that, no business and no advertising/marketing. Go figure.

Anyway, we ended up getting the account and the first thing he wanted to create was a sales letter, something to send out to prospects. Me being a writer and all scribed such a letter, informing his prospects of all the fabulousness that awaits them if they patronize this particular company.

I emailed the initial draft of the letter to the client for review and his response back to me was something I have never, ever forgotten.


“Change the copy. It’s too personal. We are a B2B company, not a B2C.”

My email back to the client went something like this…

“Thank you for your feedback. I understand completely you are a B2B company, however please remember that this letter is going to a person, meaning there’s a real, live person on the other end of the line, hence my ‘personal’ tone in the letter.”

The client’s email back to me…

“I don’t care… change the copy. Don’t want any personal tone, language, etc…”

I made the changes as requested, we mailed the letter… it flopped like a fish, his business continued to flounder (pun intended) and the rest is history.

Of course I am simplifying the results but you get my point.

This gentleman, and how many more like him(?), could not grasp the fact that there was a real human being on the other end of his sales pitch. In his mind, he was a B2B company and B2B companies don’t need to be personal or conversational…that was for the B2C folks.


The moral of course I don’t care what you are, B2B, B2C, E=MC2, whatever… until actual businesses, bricks and mortar businesses can speak for themselves — and who knows, Steve Jobs may just have an App for that, you have to remember there is ALWAYS a person on the other end of the line… with emotions, feelings, opinions and so on.

One person in particular who’s a hellluva smarter than me (not too hard to do mind you) once wrote…

“How many marketers are putting 2 and 2 together and recognizing that the most obvious and direct route to sales and profitability starts with conversations with individuals – who, at their core, love to converse – that lead to relationships that lead to advocacy?”

The person in question is Lisa Petrilli who blogs over at The aforementioned quote was in a 2010 post of hers entitled “Why You Must Rethink Your Marketing.”

So what do you think of all this?

Are you a B2B marketer who thinks all B2B marketing should be written in a very business-like tone at all times, leaving the conversational slant to the B2C marketers?

Or do you agree with me that even though the second “B” in B2B stands for “business“, at the end of the day, there’s still a “C” on the other end of the line?

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