Technical Writing vs. Marketing Writing

Subject: Technical Writing vs. Marketing Writing
From: Anatole Wilson <awilson -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1993 08:36:40 PST

As a former copywriter for a computer catalog company and a current
technical writer (excuse me--Information Developer), I see the line
between technical and marketing writing to be very, very, blurred.

For example, the catalogs I wrote had to be persuasive, so the writing
was sales-oriented, what most people would consider "marketing writing." At
the same time, it had to be technically accurate, describing the item's
specific purpose, use, and exact specifications, or we would have had a lot
of angry customers returning our products. And I worked with engineers to
get that information. So I was doing "technical writing" as well.

Another example: I'm in the
process of creating a "white paper" for a software product that's just
gone into development. Not only will the white paper be used for
communicating to customers what this product will be, but it will also be
used by the software developers, planners, and marketing people to be sure
we all have the same picture of what the final product will be. Although
it is simplifying the details of more technical specifications, it's still
both a marketing and technical document. This is why I like the title
"Information Developer"--it may sound more generic, but it eliminates that
blurry, almost artificial line between technical and marketing writing.

And if you want a final example, look at the documentation for "Quicken," the
financial software. You may notice that throughout the manual, they write
with a very upbeat style, and constantly remind you how simple their program
is to use. That's technical writing with an eye on the marketing. Not
everything about the program is that easy to do, but they make you feel like
it is, and that leaves you more impressed with the program.

this topic reminds me of one of the questions I heard most in interviews.
My BA is in Creative Writing, so interviewers would look at my resume and
ask, "are you a creative writer or a technical writer?" My answer was
was always "yes." Then. after a dramatic pause, I'd explain that the two
skills were complementary, not mutually exclusive. the interviewers who were
writers bought it. The interviewers who were Human resources people just
gave me blank stares and moved on to the next question.
Anatole Wilson If anyone objects to any
Sr. Assoc. Information Developer statement I make, I am
IBM, Santa Teresa Labs quite prepared not only
awilson -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com to retract it, but to
deny under oath that I
all company disclaimers apply ever made it.

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