Drop the Confetti and Pick Up the Razor

This post was written by John White on Tue, 17 May 2011 02:00:58 +0000
Posted Under: relationship with engineering,technology marketing writing,tell your story

Marketers are marketers and engineers are engineers. Maybe never the twain shall meet, but you have to try anyway.

The Exposure WheelIf every sentence of your marketing copy isn’t selling me on technical benefits or business benefits, why are you bothering to put it in front of me?

Worse yet, if your copy is sprinkled with drivel and fluff, why put it on your website where the entire planet can see it?

I saw a couple of examples of really bad copy this week, and they’ve got me thinking about how technology companies struggle to tell their story in a meaningful way.

Ad out: Marketers

We hire marketers to start our conversation with people outside the building. We tell them our technology story and we expect them to filter it into something appealing to different audiences. For example:

In order to deliver the type of user experiences enabled by these innovations, software must keep pace – otherwise we will fall painfully short of capitalizing on the opportunities presented by these unprecedented hardware achievements…It’s the next great challenge faced by an industry with a history of meeting and surpassing high consumer expectations.

No engineer would ever say that. I’ve written meatier content than that and had engineers tell me it was fluff.

Ad out: Engineers

So should we let the engineers do the writing, like this?

With up to 3-stream MIMO and 900 Mbit/s radio performance, our 802.11n APs deliver Ethernet speed without the wires. Multi-radio, multi-channel mesh routing and automatic mesh failover offer fault tolerance, and provide fast coverage in hard-to-wire areas.

Engineers aren’t right about everything. They understand the tech, but they don’t always understand the need to appeal to different audiences. They know how to appeal to other engineers, but rarely to journalists, analysts and C-level prospects.

Drop the confetti and pick up the razor

Frankly, I’m not impartial. I may get mildly annoyed when I see ham-handed geek-sell, but I get downright cranky when I see lousy marketing copy masquerading as technical sales material.

Marketers, try your hardest to tell the story the way the engineers want to tell it. Just be sure to edit it first.

Engineers, quit looking down your noses at the marketers. You can’t do their job any more than they can do yours, so educate them.

Let’s see whether we can do better, shall we all?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Sakarias Ingolfsson

Reader Comments

And some engineers would begin frothing at the mouth if there were no numbers to quantify those “automatic mesh failover” and “provide fast coverage” assertions 🙂

I’ve experienced this when giving tech courses to engineers on network switches and spanning tree. They love to poke around in the embers of a good lecture!

Whereas the C-level and tech directors get all hot under the collar about why it’s too late, too slow, too early, too complex, too simple etc…

Different strokes…

Written By Mark McClure on May 19th, 2011 @ 20:17

Must be someway to make both camps happy. Numbers don’t need to get in the way of a good story, but they shouldn’t be the entire story.

Written By John White on May 20th, 2011 @ 7:05