Re: Get to the point?

Subject: Re: Get to the point?
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2000 11:03:36 +1100

Sierra Godfrey wrote about some advice to marketing
copywriters that recommends:

> "Tell people in a single compelling sentence why
> they should buy from you instead of someone else."

and asked:

> For you minimalist tech writers, do you think this at
> all applies to how we write technical information?

I certainly do, and I don't think "minimalism" has much
to do with anything. It seems to me all we're saying
here is "don't waste the readers' time." They're not here
to read; they're here to find that single bit of information
they need so that they can get their work finished and
go home.

Marketing copywriting can present unique challenges.
There may in fact be no clear reason "why" the
audience should buy our product over someone
else's. In that case, marketing types have to resort to
things like selling the "sizzle" instead of the steak.
Sometimes, "blowing smoke" is the best thing a
marketeer can do to make a sale.

Tech writers don't have this problem. We already have
a captive audience. If we've done our prep work, we
know what the audience needs, and we know how to
deliver it it an efficient, clear, easy-to-read package.

> Obviously marketing material and technical
> materials are entirely different things, not the
> least of why because our audiences are different.

They may not be different audiences, but they certainly
come to the text with different needs. "How well can we
satisfy those needs?" is just as important a question
for marketing copywriters as it is for tech writers.

> The book also goes on to say how oranges are
> actually green and growers spray them with some
> compound to make them orange (in an attempt to
> show how we all buy into fake things), but I doubt
> this because the organic oranges I buy are orange,
> and I've never seen a green orange on a tree.

I'm out of my depth here, but I think what this is about
is the fact that many growers pick unripe fruit for long-
distance transport, and use chemical sprays to
accelerate the skin coloration process. It doesn't
mean the oranges are "fake" oranges.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia

I imagine that someday there will be a new kind
of sadomasochistic role-playing in which the
technologically adept will pay dominatrices to
treat them like newbies.
-- Dennis Cass (Harper's Magazine, July 2000)

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