This is going to sound really suspicious coming from someone who teaches people how to write B2B content and uses B2B writing templates to do so.
But I hope you’ll stick around for the nuance.
I’m here to make the following claim:
You just can’t productize good writing. I know everyone’s trying to do it, but you can’t. The closest you can get is templatizing good writing processes. And then having a sharp, business-minded human write it.
What I mean by this is not that B2B writing templates are useless.
Templates are very powerful, and they give you a clear foundation and canvas to paint on, kind of like the under-painting an artist puts on the canvas before they lay down oil paints.
B2B writing templates can make you more consistent. More reliable. Faster.
What I do mean by this is that you can’t create a template and use it like a unit of product, systematizing the act of writing and increasing the scale at which you’re delivering writing as a product to infinity.
B2B writing templates can’t make you a better writer or ensure that what you’re writing is really good — only you, the writer can do that.
A template in the hands of someone who can’t write and who doesn’t have any sensitivity to the B2B landscape is practically useless. It won’t lead to anything readable, let alone anything that inspires connection or action.
The place where templates really shine and become useful is when they are a part of your writing process, not the entirety of your writing process.
Now that I’ve made the case against relying on templates to do all the work… here are three things I put into B2B writing templates to make sure they serve me and set me up to deliver the best possible writing I can deliver.
B2B Writing Template Must-Have #1: Notes about the project
Each project outline or project page is going to have two kinds of information that help you write it: specifications for how this piece is the same, and specifications for how this piece is different.
I include a notes section in each of my projects so I can keep track of things a client likes to see be the same from piece to piece, almost like a miniature style guide of reminders I’m likely to forget.
I also use the notes section to indicate unique things about the piece, such as who will be interviewed, the purpose of the piece, or related content that was published before or after the piece.
This is helpful for me as I’m writing and the client as they’re reviewing — and it’s even more important in situations where the client might share the document with other stakeholders who haven’t been involved in the process since the beginning.
B2B Writing Template Must-Have #2: A full outline
In my opinion, the main purpose of a template is to get all of the most urgent concepts out on the page so the client or company can see what’s missing.
Did we cover the important ideas?
Is there anything essential to our message that must be added?
Do we clearly address the “why” and the “what if” behind the ideas we’re talking about?
The outline stage is their chance to flag what’s going on and introduce a change, to make sure everyone is, literally, “on the same page.” If it’s not in the outline, it won’t be in the first draft.
B2B Writing Template Must-Have #3: A clear structure
This is where templates go rogue. All of my templates start with a 1-2-3 format, because I’m trying to break down a large idea into smaller pieces to make it easier to absorb.
But that format will not suit every topic.
Sometimes you’re breaking down an idea into 10 pieces. Sometimes you aren’t breaking it down at all, but rather building it up in delicate slices.
The heart of your template, the body of your outline, ends up being more about creating space to think rather than proscribing any particular template, format, or structure — that’s part of the art that will always require the insight and skill of the writer.
B2B Writing Template for a Thought Leadership Article
This wouldn’t be a very helpful article if I didn’t offer a template as an example!
Click here to see the template I use to kick off every thought leadership article I write.
Make a copy of it and store it in your processes folder (you do have a processes folder, right?).
Use it to kick off new projects and see just how quickly the ideas flow to you when you have your “under-painting” in place.
P.S. You can buy the other B2B writing templates I use here.