You don’t have to be a hit factory to write B2B content that makes a connection with your audience like a Billboard Top 100 song. But the fan frenzy that top crooners generate from tapping into teen angst? That can teach us all a lesson about writing for our B2B customers, and instill us with rock-star empathy for the challenges they face.

1. Bands know what audiences need to hear

It’s nice to write lyrics that their fan base would want boys to say: ‘You don’t know you’re beautiful/ That’s what makes you beautiful.’ One Direction songwriter Savan Kotecha
Think back to your high school days. Painful, I know, but just give it a try. Put yourself in your teenage room with the door closed, your teenage mementos stuck in their places, your teenage self sprawled across the bed wallowing in your teenage problems, and your teenage audio technology blaring in your eardrums. Photo by Viktor Hanacek Do you remember a time when, freshly wounded from a breakup or soaring at the height of a dizzying crush, you’d hear some song that jolted you down the spine with a tingly revelation that tapped directly into the feelings you were experiencing? You might have played that song so unrelentingly for a week, your siblings complained. You might have played it so often that even right now, just thinking about it, you’re transported back to the place and time where you heard it first.
  • “Finally, someone who knows what it feels like to be going through this,” you’d wail.
  • “They could have written this just for me,” you’d swoon.
  • “Yeah, man – we will rock you!” you’d fist-pump.
  • “Maybe I’m not alone after all,” you’d sniffle.
What was happening here? Someone you didn’t know was identifying with your pain or your passion, and suddenly you wanted to turn to them again and again for reassurance.

2. They Extend a Hand

My songwriting is like extending a hand to the listener. – Dave Grohl
That’s how it is with customer-centric B2B content. It’s not about tweaking words. It’s about evoking a feeling. Maybe not a post-adolescent obsession, but at the very least a connection. There’s no shortage of artists with autobiographical relationship songs—think Nick Cave, Eminem, the entire Taylor Swift catalog. But overwhelmingly, the bands, artists and songwriters who crafted those lyrics and gave them a voice were not singing about their own lives. Nope, not by a longshot. They were singing about their audience’s lives. Even though the musicians had never met you, the lead singer didn’t know your name, and the lyricist that penned that tune had been inspired by a coffee-stained menu in an all-night diner, that song was written for you – exactly when you needed to hear it. How did they do that? How can you do that?

3. They Act as a Mirror

“I’ll be your mirror, reflect what you are.” – Lou Reed / The Velvet Underground
They did it by reflecting their audience in the lyrics. And it was done that way deliberately—just as the most masterful B2B content writers do. With craftsmanship, empathy, and a good sense of what works because they know their audience. Back when you were in high school, bands would go on tour to stay in touch with their fans and see in person what they looked like, how they behaved, and what they responded to. Or if they were big enough, they had managers, promoters, and record labels to find out. Now bands, like brands, can connect with their fans up-close-and-personal at shows and events. With live streaming video and webcasts, and on social media networks, they have so many more ways to access their communities directly, get to know them, share their own lives and loves, even collect data about their trends and habits. A trending hashtag may not seem as romantic as a long and lonesome highway east of Omaha. But both then and now, musicians have gone to where their audiences are. In touch with them on the audiences’ platforms. Using the same language their audiences use. Photo by RyanMcGuire

4. They Make an Impact

“All I wanted to do was to get on stage and move and make an impact – surprise people, or scare people, or excite people, or make people angry or happy or whatever.” – Scott Avett / The Avett Brothers
Of course, back here in the present and off the stage, most B2B content marketers aren’t in the business of playing teenage heartthrob to their target audience. But if we’re doing it right, we can get close, with marketing that instills a different kind of hopeful feeling in our prospects:
  • This could help with the cost-reduction goal the department heads set.”
  • This will make our cross-functional communication initiative a success.”
  • This could be exactly what our partner development program needs.”
  • And even the chart-topper: “This is meant for me!”
Does the B2B content you write target an audience that needs that reassurance? Does it address one of those outcomes (or something like them)?

Learn How to Sing from the Same B2B Content Songbook

You don’t need to tap into teen angst, thankfully. But you need to study your audience just as closely to tap into their professional angst, extend your hand, make a connection with them, reflect their vision, and have an impact on their next action. A step closer to solving their big, grownup problems. Top photo credit: insouciance via Creative Commons (Share-alike 2.0 Generic license)