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The SME's Guide to Working with Writers

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How technology subject matter experts can help marketing produce better content with less frustration and wasted time.

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The SME's Guide to Working with Writers

  1. 1. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM WORKING WITH WRITERS THE SME'S GUIDE TO
  2. 2. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS How tech subject matter experts can help marketing produce better content with less frustration & wasted time
  3. 3. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS BAFFLED ARE YOU BY YOUR COMPANY'S WRITING PROCESS? For a SME, the process used by marketing to develop a white paper, brochure, datasheet, or technical article can feel like an unknown path with several unexpected twists. This guide will help you understand the road ahead ... and how you can help the project make a smoother journey.
  4. 4. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS PRODUCT WRITING YOU KNOW THE THE WRITER KNOWS GOOD For many SMEs, the thought of having to write anything brings on anxiety and avoidance. Others enjoy writing as a way to share their knowledge. They can produce a good first draft for technical articles, blog posts, or white papers. But writing promotional copy requires a different mindset, knowledge, and skills than writing explanatory text. These are the talents that a good technical copywriter brings to marketing content. Respect that. By focusing on providing good information about the product or topic, you can help the writer produce good content.
  5. 5. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS INPUT  WORDS & VISUALS  WHEN IT COMES TO WRITERS NEED You might assume that a writer wants only text input: background reports, product specification documents, and the like. And certainly many marketing projects start with an interview call where the writer collects explanations to use in the project. But writers also work with visuals and often gain a better understanding from a product diagram, illustration, photo, or other image. Anything you would show to a potential customer for the product, the writer should see too.
  6. 6. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS MULTIPLE BETTER DOCUMENTS MAY BE Watch for the temptation to create a "kitchen sink" document. You know the type: Usually it's a lengthy white paper that presents everything a reader will ever need to know about the topic. The problem: Most customers and prospects won't read that amount of detailed information. If you have a lot of useful content to share, work with the writer and the marketing team to identify how to use multiple documents (and multiple formats) to present it for the greatest appeal and impact.
  7. 7. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS FEATURE BENEFIT JUST BECAUSE IT'S A  DOESN'T MEAN IT'S A Your enthusiasm for the product is understandable. But as a SME, you're likely to be fascinated by the product's many features, especially the newest "cool" ones. However, a feature's presence in the product does not necessarily make it a benefit. Here's an easy way to remember the differences between a feature and a benefit: A feature focuses on the product, not the user. (What it is or does) A benefit focuses on user, not the product. (What it means for the user's work, activity, life, etc.)
  8. 8. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS WRITER WRITING LET THE DO THE If you are providing a first draft, don't struggle to make it a masterpiece. That's the writer's job. You can just focus on providing complete and accurate input. Then let the writer transform it into a polished document.
  9. 9. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS MARKETING FLUFF DOESN'T WANT EITHER Understand that marketing isn't about creating and spreading "fluff." Marketers and copywriters are indeed trying to give customers clear and useful information. There are both legal and practical reasons to do so, especially for technical products where details can make a difference in market success. So don't think you need to "dumb down" your input. Ask the marketing team for insights into the target reader for the piece and let them guide you on the type and level of input they need.
  10. 10. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS PROCESS POLITICS THE WRITING ISN'T FOR INTERNAL You know the white paper that never got done because the product team couldn't agree on what it should really say? Resolve your own disagreements about comments made by others; don't make the writer be the referee. Don't use the writing process as a political tactic for advocating your point of view about product capabilities, direction, target market, etc. And don't use it as a substitute for the in-person thinking and discussion that needs to happen about the document's topic or the product itself.
  11. 11. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS WRITING DELIVER IF IT'S IN  YOU HAVE TO It's easy to get caught up in the vision for future product capabilities. And if a feature will be ready to release soon, it can be tempting to describe it as if it is already available. But remember, if a product feature is stated in any promotional material, your company has a legal requirement to deliver it. Don't let a brochure or data sheet promote anything other than what a customer can buy today or at a definite, stated date in the future.
  12. 12. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS REVIEWER COMMENTS TO BE A GOOD GIVE SPECIFIC The single best thing you can do as a SME: Be specific in your comments when marking up a document draft. If the text isn't clear, indicate the specific text that needs to change and what it should say instead. Don't just mark it as "wrong." Also, mark what text should be deleted entirely. If you're not certain about whether a statement is true, find out before marking your comment or give the writer a source to check.
  13. 13. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS RULES PROJECT SORRY, THE DO APPLY TO YOUR Is the draft not quite what you were expecting in terms of text structure and style? Most likely it's because the writer must comply with corporate publication rules and style. You may not like those rules, but your material probably isn't "special" enough to go against them. It may not be how you would write it, but trying to argue for an exception to the rules may be futile. Your time will be better spent making sure the information is complete, relevant, and accurate.
  14. 14. (C) 2017 JANICE KING, FREELANCE TECHNICAL COPYWRITER       WWW.WRITESPARK.COM THE SME'S GUIDE TO WORKING WITH WRITERS WRITER DO YOU NEED A FOR YOUR TECH MARKETING CONTENT? Hello! I'm Janice King, a freelance technical copywriter who helps technology companies around the world produce clear, compelling marketing content. I'm a skilled interviewer too... drawing the right information from SMEs and presenting their knowledge in a way that's clear, relevant, and engaging. How can I help with your projects? Let's talk: Email: info@writespark.com Tel: +-01 425 391-1886

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