FW: Marketing vs. Engineering

Subject: FW: Marketing vs. Engineering
From: Jim Purcell <jimpur -at- MICROSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 13:50:08 -0800

Michael Wing offers:

>>I agree with you up to a point. That point is that Marketing should
>>have a greater input than Engineering on what is said. However, they
>>should step out of the way on how it is said.
>>Most Marketing groups with whom I have associated like a lot of
>>graphics; lengthy, flowery introductory text; lists; and so forth. They
>>also like two manuals; a thin one that they could hand out at trade
>>shows and send as "freebies:, and a nice, thick, fluffy one they could
>>plop down on the customer's briefcase. They also like writers to
>>"sensationalize" what they write. How many more times do we have to use
>>trite phrases like "leading edge", "state-of-the-art", "top-down", "low
>>maintenance", and so forth. When left under too-much Marketing
>>influence, an exorbitant amount of time is spent on wording the
>>trademarks section, positioning graphics, and making sure the company
>>name appears 20 times per page (and bold face).
>I would no more let Marketing turn my manual into a brochure than I would let
>Engineering turn it into a spec. Both departments are useful for the
>information they can provide. I wouldn't cede editorial oversight to either
>That said, a good Marketing department is an invaluable source of information
>about the intended reader. Tech writers are rightly fond of emphasizing
>audience analysis. Marketers are the people in the company who actually talk
>to customers, tell them what the product will do for them, why it's a good
>thing--you know, the kind of information we need to motivate readers and
>slant our procedural text to real-world users in real-world situations. If
>the manual tells a different story than marketing is telling, the best thing
>that you can say about the result is that customers will suffer some
>cognitive dissonance.
>You cannot write an accurate manual without engineers, but you cannot write a
>useful manual without knowing what Marketing is telling the public about your
>And while we're on the subject, don't overlook the motherlode of user
>information: product support. If you're working on a product upgrade, the
>support people can tell you in excruciating detail the kinds of things that
>users can't do because they are either not documented or badly documented.
>Jim Purcell
>jimpur -at- microsoft -dot- com
>My opinions, not Microsoft's

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