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in the gray 

Examining the not so black and white nuances of copywriting, branding, and business. 

  • Writer's pictureVictoria Gamlen

Stop Friend-zoning Customers With Your Copy

Updated: Mar 10

I'm not your friend, I'm your customer.

"Leave." Humboldt Park, Chicago (2017)

B2B SaaS companies: many of you are friend-zoning potential customers with your copy and branding.

This is a byproduct of the infantilization of the millennial aesthetic seeping into tech.

(Shout out to Christopher Nieri for passing that article along.)

One problem: overt friendliness works in B2C, not so much in B2B.

You all think it does. But many of you are leaving money on the table because you care more about looking cool to people outside your target audience than getting customers.

I see it with my marketing clients getting pitched SaaS and I see it myself as a B2B business owner getting pitched by you guys. Your copy is way too familiar for how little you truly understand our businesses.

People who complain that B2B marketing is boring – you need to understand two things:

1. B2B doesn’t need less “boring” marketing. B2B needs better marketing. Effective marketing doesn’t always delight or entertain. That’s just one tactic.

There’s enormous potential for more creativity in B2B. But creative marketing that converts requires a deep understanding of one’s customers and rock solid positioning and messaging.

Many of you possess none of the above. You’re trying to run before you can walk and you’re going to trip.

If you actually respected creativity instead of just fetishizing it, you’d know this.

2. Not all of us find B2B boring. Some people (like myself), find things like data analysis, corporate finance, manufacturing, logistics, etc., utterly fascinating.

And for the parts that are boring, we don’t mind. Because we know that’s where the money is – caring about the boring but important details that other people don’t want to dig into.

I’m not sure if anyone told you, but most of you sell software to software companies.

What’s ironic is that many companies who try to be their customer’s friends aren’t even good ones. Their product glitches, then they require a paid plan to get help beyond their FAQ section.

Real friends don’t charge friends for support.

I just left a startup-y bank for AMEX for one of my businesses for this exact reason. I’ll happily pay fees for good customer service and to be addressed like a grown adult.

Lastly, to the companies with the tech blue, chubby illustrations, and conversational copy that think they’re so much better than the stodgy corporate ones, you’re not.

You all look and sound the exact same. It’s deja vu every time I go to one of your sites. The cerulean sweater scene from The Devil Wears Prada comes to mind as I write this.

You don’t need me to tell you this (or maybe you do), but the easy money party’s over.

It’s time to start making some yourselves. That starts with speaking to your customers like just that – customers.

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