RE: Marketing's Role

Subject: RE: Marketing's Role
From: "Mason, Catheryn" <CMason -at- INFINITEC-COM -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 11:41:39 -0600

Lisa Kemp is "interested to know if your Marketing Department reviews
technical training materials."

Lisa, all of our user documentation and training materials are in fact
produced *through* the Marketing department. I'm in the Marketing department
(I report to the VP of Marketing) and I produce all of our manuals, data
sheets, and so forth, and collaborate on brochures and marketing materials.
Our field service technicians produce all of our training materials
(sometimes with my help, sometimes not); they are also part of the Marketing
department. The product manager plays an integral role in all of this and is
a valuable liaison with the Engineering department; he's also in Marketing
along with the rest of us. In other words, everything our user sees has been
produced through and blessed by the Marketing department.

There are a few reasons for this. One is to ensure consistency of branding
-- all of our public materials need to look the same, from our brochures to
manuals to the boxes in which we ship equipment (color scheme, logo, catch
words, etc.). Our user materials (product manuals, training manuals,
brochures, presentations, etc.) also must be consistent (same logos, color
values, similar structures and lingo, typefaces, similar use of graphics and
white space, etc.). Since I'm in charge of technical communications, I
worked with our marketeers to establish the company "look" and then set out
the parameters to follow for any printed or electronic materials being
distributed to users and customers (in other words, training follows my lead
on this). We're not always as consistent as I'd like, but our materials are
distinctive and easily recognizable among our competitors' stuff. Another
good reason to have Marketing involved in all of this is that the materials
we produce are also used as sales tools. Our salespeople use our data sheets
to entice and educate customers, they use our manuals as a selling point and
to answer more complicated questions about our product, and they give
demonstrations at customer sites using our training materials.

You ask about Marketing's role in "creating the layout for documentation."
In my case, this was a joint effort between Marketing and Engineering. In
establishing a standard layout, I solicited opinions from both departments,
reviewed competitors' materials for flaws and advantages, and (fortunately)
was given final say in designing the docs and establishing our standards.
Our documents are altered now in accordance with user feedback, but the
essential layout remains the same.

As leery of marketing as I am, in general, this arrangement has worked well
for us. Since both the product manager and myself are in the Marketing
department but work closely with Engineering, it has made it easier to get
buy-in from each side. Just my experience.

Catheryn Mason, Technical Writer
Infinitec Communications
cmason -at- infinitec-com -dot- com
Winner, 1999 ABC Bronze Quill Award of Excellence for Technical Writing

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