Having a salesman call on a customer can cost hundreds of dollars in expenses. A long-distance phone sales call can be costly, too. But a prospect can be reached for about fifty cents through an ad in a trade magazine. In today’s business marketplace where businesses need to stay lean to stay competitive, effective business-to-business advertising is a must.

Any industry has its own trade publications. These magazines have a smaller, more tightly focused readership than a general interest magazine. Some may only have one industry that will read them like Business Fleet, Aviation Mechanics Bulletin or NailPro. Others focus on a particular technique that is of interest in multiple industries but only a small segment of the industry. For instance, Brand Packaging looks at how a product’s packaging can sell the product.

Business advertising pays somewhat better than consumer advertising and it can lead to even more lucrative writing projects, like annual reports and technical writing if the company likes your work.

Copy for ads in these publications can use more jargon or industry terms, and should. It helps you connect with the reader and allows them to believe that you are familiar with the industry.

For the most part, the same techniques that work for consumer ads will work for business-to-business ads. However, the way they are applied to business advertising should be different.

Testimonials: While Angelina Jolie might be able to sell a car after it’s assembled, she probably won’t do as good a job selling parts to stores. Even if you had her say something jargony, parts buyers wouldn’t believe her. You need testimonials from other scientists, businessmen, and technical experts. These are the people whose opinions matter to business audiences.

Headlines: With business-to-business advertising, your headline must catch and hold the attention of someone who usually doesn’t have a lot of time to sit and admire a catchy, slick headline. Informational headlines that promote something new may seem boring, but for the company whose ad you are writing, it means money in the bank.

Body Copy: Make sure the body copy reinforces a benefit important to the customer. Be specific and state facts, figures, and sources that will allow customers to support their decisions to the people who have the authority to sign the checks. Give the readers useful information, not a lot of hype. If the product requires a lot of copy to explain it to the customer, then write a lot of body copy. The people reading the body copy are very interested prospects. Don’t let them off the hook by not giving them enough information to make a decision.

Demonstrations: If you can devise a simple demonstration that readers can do on their own to compare your product with a competitor’s product, tell them how to do it. Being able to see the results of a simple demonstration that readers can perform on their own can be an effective selling tool, especially to technical people who are used to doing experiments.

A good example of this, though it wasn’t for a business product, was “The Special-K Pinch.” If you can devise an easy demonstration like that, which people still remember a decade later, you’ll have a successful marketing advertisement.

Closing: With business-to business advertising, always include at a minimum, a toll-free phone number to call for more information or to order. You want the customer to be able to act on the immediacy that was created by reading the ad.

While writing business advertisements certainly isn’t glamorous, it can help support your freelance career while you pursue those glamorous projects.

James Rada, Jr. is a former journalist and current freelance writer living in Gettysburg, Pa. His articles and marketing materials have won more than two dozen writing and copywriting awards. You can see more of his books, articles and ads at and