What is a technical communicator to do when called upon to write marketing material? Excel, of course, using these tips to help you apply your existing skills to new tasks.
What has been your experience? Tee up the poll
Defining traitsSpectrum…most of my work is somewhere in the middle.Let me put the question out to you for discussion. What other traits do you think define marketing communication? Please use the chat window to share your thoughts.
Marcomm is often denigrated as fluff—empty (and empty-headed) communication that’s long on hype and short on truth and accuracy. These traits might be true of badly written MarComm, of which we have all seen examples.Again—what do you think? Use the chatbox to list some other perceptions about MarComm.
This fluff caricature is often true of badly written marcomm, but it is an unfair generalization. Well-written marcomm does much more work than simply deliver a message or ask a reader/viewer to buy. It projects the company’s image, reinforces its brands, and gets the reader to take action. And as you know if you have done it, it is anything but easy. So how do you make the transition?
Well-written marcomm does much more work than simply deliver its message. It projects the company’s image, reinforces its brands, and gets the reader to take action.Technical communication does the same things, though perhaps less overtly intentional. Have you ever wasted time with a badly written setup guide or help system that did not solve your problem? When you suffer through such poor documentation, you don’t blame the writer—well, maybe you do, but most readers don’t—they blame the company. When you create outstanding technical documentation, you are already doing marcomm work by helping a company communicate a positive message about its product and brand.That’s what marcomm writers do. If you are transitioning to a marcomm role, you will continue to use the technical communication skills you have worked so hard to develop, and you will find that they are highly valued.
Technical Aptitude:Drink deeply from the source material. You can and should understand the subject at a much deeper level than the level at which you’ll write. This deeper understanding allows you to add tremendous value, which is required if your job is to survive the commoditization of technical & marketing communication.Attention to D&P:Remember that marcomm cannot and should not try to match the detail and precision of technical communication. Use your D+P skills to ask smarter questions (How will this document be used? What does the ideal reader need to gain from it? When will that reader encounter this doc or seek it out?), make better word choices, and get beyond the buzzwords to the real meat of the content (“that’s a cool phrase but what does it really mean?”)Whenever possible, insist on an interview with a technical SME. Do not rely on a marketing manager to relay technical information to you. They can give you the marketing language, but only technical SMEs can give you the technical detail you need to give your writing heft. Similarly, do not rely solely on other marcomm material (called collateral) as sources. Read the technical documentation as well.These are just three skills from my experience that transferred well. What skills have you found to be transferable?Keep question in notes if time allows
Transition to marcomm webinar
•1It’s All MarcommA Tech Writer Goes Fluffy
Housekeeping • For audio choose “Use Mic & Speakers” or “Use Telephone” in your Audio window • Submit your text question using the Questions pane • Note: A recording will be made available •Plain Talk Series Webinar
•3 It’s All Marcomm A Tech Writer Goes FluffyPaul Holland, ModeratorMarketing Manager,Federal Equipment CompanyManager, STC MarCom SIG
•4 It’s All Marcomm A Tech Writer Goes Fluffy Joe works with a small but potent team of writers at ProwessJoe Staples, Presenter Consulting, where they produceSenior Information Architect, technical and marketingProwess Consulting communication for some of the world’s largest IT-industry firms. When not working, he hikes, plays racquetball, and plays with his family.
•5How To Move from This… • UI documentation • Management and configuration guides • Procedural documentation • Courseware • Lab manuals
•6 …to This • Marketing collateral: Web copy White papers Solution briefs Data sheets Email copy Animation scriptsWhat has been your experience?
•7 What Do We Mean by MarComm? Some defining traits: Technical Communication Marketing Communication Pre-sale audience, especially decision Post-sale audience, especially users makers and influencers Objective, detached style Personal (or personable), engaging style Primary goal: inspire the reader to take Primary goal: inform the reader action Example: Configuration guide Example: Solution briefTC MC
•8What’s This About Fluff??Perceptions of MarComm Anyone can write it Careless with truth or facts Takes little time or skill Others? Lacks Lighter technical look and depth feel
•9Take Your Tech Comm and Fluff ItMarComm does substantive work • Projects the company’s image • Reinforces its brands • Inspires action • Enables an emotional connection • …much more
•10MarComm Is ToughBut take a deep breath… Your TechComm skills add big It’s all MarComm value• Good technical documentation • Uncover hidden information encourages brand loyalty • SME collaboration• It inspires action: buy from us • Depth of engagement again
•11Transfer These Three Skills First Technical Aptitude Attention to D&P Information Extraction• “Fluff” is pure sales talk • You can help your written by someone with clients tune their little technical acumen. message and its• You can write impactful delivery. • You can get important pieces because of your • You can quickly spot information from very ability to grasp and distill and rectify empty, vague stubborn sources. difficult technical phrases that give concepts (the opposite MarComm writing its of fluff). pejorative label. Where the rubber meets the road…
•12How to Run with Your Skills Technical Aptitude Attention to D&P Information Extraction• Drink deeply from the source material. • Ask smarter questions • Insist on an• Read the technical • Get beyond interview with a documentation, not technical SME buzzwords to the just MarComm substance sources. What skills have you transferred and how?
•13Thank You• These slides available:• Twitter: @joe_staples Questions?• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org• Join the STC MarComm SIG group at LinkedIn• Visit the SIG website: http://www.stc-marcom.org• Email: email@example.com