Re: "Technical documentation is the new sales"

Subject: Re: "Technical documentation is the new sales"
From: Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2011 15:58:18 -0700 (PDT)

That was back in the days when buying of technical items was actually done by people in the buying company's technical staff, or at least by others who had an idea about technical matters. Nowadays, almost all such buying is done by bean counters who don't really care about anything but the quarterly report.

Years ago I got in an argument with a manager who said documentation got little regard because there was no way to quantify its effect on the bottom line.  I pointed out that actually, there was a way to measure it to the penny.  I said all the company had to do was release a new software upgrade without documentation, and advertise that the new user interface was so good, they were not releasing a help system or any other documentation because it wasn't needed.  All they had to do was use that advertising pitch for one quarter, then compare that quarter's sales figures to the previous quarter, and they would know exactly how much difference was made by documentation.  After that he changed the subject.

--- On Fri, 3/18/11, David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
Subject: Re: "Technical documentation is the new sales"
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Friday, March 18, 2011, 4:20 AM

Some years ago, I was at an STC chapter meeting in Dallas when we heard from a docs manager from Texas Instruments.

He said that a few years prior to that, TI conducted a survey of its customers asking what differentiating factors had caused them to buy components from TI instead of its competitors.

The number one answer by a large margin was the quality of the documentation--they said that with TI products, they knew in advance exactly what each component could do and how to implement it.

He added that for about two or three years, the docs department was flying high--before things descended once more to the "afterthought" ranking it had historically "enjoyed."

In my case, I spent considerable time over the years doing marketing communications as well as tech docs. Thus, my customary mode was to create tech docs that could easily be used as sales collateral wherever possible. Essentially, this meant striving for such clarity and organization that people unfamiliar with the product could easily and quickly find what they needed to know--whether they were evaluating for purchase or merely a new user of the product itself.

In my view, this is a good practice anyway as a general proposition.



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Re: "Technical documentation is the new sales": From: David Neeley

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