Technical writing and marketing writing

Subject: Technical writing and marketing writing
From: Anatole Wilson <awilson -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1993 16:59:45 PST

While I agree with just about everything Saul Carliner said, I do
want to make some clarifications.

I cited the QUICKEN manual as an example of technical manual that also serves
as a marketing piece because I think it goes beyond just having a "perky"
style. It actively works to remind you that there are other modules
and special products like checks and envelopes that you buy directly from them.
And from time to time it reminds you what a wonderful program QUICKEN is. But
it's not written in a hard-sell style, so I don't find it annoying at all. So
it's serving two functions: marketing piece and user's manual.

I didn't choose that example to say that technical writing is or should be
boring. I think most of us strive to make the technical subjects we write
about--well, if not interesting, then at least less painful to get through.
That's just a matter of knowing your audience and understanding what
information they're looking for.

As to why Technical Writers get stuck with a lot of marketing writing these
days, (I personally enjoy the variety); along with the reasons Saul cited
(tech writers are better suited to explain high-tech products to high-tech
customers and tech writers are cheaper), Iwould add a couple more reasons
why tech writers are and should be involved:

1) Who knows the product better? After spending an entire development cycle
documenting a product, tech writers know the product inside and out. If they've
really invesitgated the audience while they've been writing the help,
documentation, etc., they've probably already talked to customers or at
least the marketing peopleinvolved. So why bring in someone new and waste
time and money to learn what the tech writer already knows?

2) Manuals are a great place to advertise. You have a captive audience of
users looking to find the easiest way to perform a task. As long as it
doesn't make it harder for the user to find the information needed, why
not mention another module or product the user may find very useful?(This is
called cross-selling.) Integration of marketing and technical information
in a manual is an effective marketing tool that, if done well, will even
be appreciated by the user.

3) Applying marketing concepts early in development helps make sure
the product concept stays clear to everyone. I've always found it
useful to ask a software developer engineer "if you were going to tell
someone why they should buy this, what would you tell them?" That
question usually gets by the standard listing of features and makes
everyone think about the customer and what the customer's going to use the
product for. Then they're better able to visualize that end product, and
I'm already building the foundation for the marketing strategy.

I hope I've stressed it hard enough that I think it's wrong to sacrifice
technical accuracy or user-friendliness for the sake of marketing. It has
to be balanced carefully. But the same concepts that make good technical
writing (clarity, focus on the end-user) also make good marketing writing,
and the two are not mutually exclusive.

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.

Previous by Author: technical writing vs. marketing writing
Next by Author: tech writing vs. marketing writing
Previous by Thread: Re: Technical and Marketing Communications
Next by Thread: Re: Technical writing and marketing writing

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads