From Technical Writing to Marketing

Subject: From Technical Writing to Marketing
From: "Chris McQueen" <chrism -at- docutechcorp -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 12:59:20 -0700

Friends, Tech Writers, country people; lend me your ears!

I've been approached by management to move to a new Marketing department.  The marketing department is new because the previous graphic designer and PR guy just left to start their own company, so management hired a consultant to rebuild the company's marketing strategy. 

To give you an idea of where I am in my career, this is my first job out of college (BS in English) and I've been in the Development department for the last year and a half as a lone Tech Writer.  Previous to my employ the company never had a Tech Writer or a manual for the two software applications we create, but is slowly becoming a force in our niche market.  As of today we have an extensive manual for one application and basic user guide for the other.  I've single-sourced the content to the web and created an infrastructure where I can quickly create custom manuals for unique integrations we make with other software companies (not an OEM situation, but similar difficulties).

I've been looking at a MS in Technology Education from Boise and have interests in usability and instructional design.

The COO invited me to interview with the Marketing consultant, which I did.  I enjoyed the experience and feel I could learn a lot working with this individual.  The Marketing consultant implied I have talent and seemed willing to work with me, but was frank when suggesting I look at where I want to be in the next 5 years and to make sure I "know how marketing fits into [my] future."

To keep this short, here's where I'm at; I feel I have the opportunity to create my own job and job description within the Marketing department.  What I'm considering proposing is a "User Advocate" position.  The job would be to create advocacy for our software within the user group.  My tasks would be to collect customer feedback, create training material, and guide the user experience.  I would hope to discover features that customers want or need and explain and train customers on features the software has.  So while other Marketing employees would concentrate on market development, I would make sure the user is not forgotten, knows how to user the software and enjoys using the software.

Now my question: "What doesn't work with this idea?"  As a manager, where are the problems with a position like this?  Where are the holes in the plan?  Could a position like this work?  What talents would someone in this position need?

Ideally I would see a department created from this position, but I have to show return on investment and make money for the company before any of that could happen.

So, what do you think?  Is it possible to make a Tech Writer in Development become a User Advocate in Marketing?  (Am I Julius Caesar waiting to meet my Brutus?  Or, do I need to become Mark Anthony?)

Chris McQueen
Technical Writer
chrism -at- docutechcorp -dot- com
Office:(800)497-3584 ext:38682


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