“Let’s Have the Tech Writers Create Our Marketing Content.” Uh, No.

Tech writer vs. technology marketing writer

Tech writers know your product and they know how to write. Isn’t that all you need for technology marketing content?

“We’ll need a white paper to explain the advantages of version 5.0,” said the VP of engineering. “Existing customers will upgrade sooner if we give them a good paper.”

“You’re right,” said the CTO. “We also need it to engage prospects and the people using competing products.”

“If the paper’s done right, we could use it for lead generation. We could hand it out at trade shows and maybe get some trade magazines to pick it up.”

“There’s a lot we can do with a white paper.” (Once somebody has written it.)

“We could use excerpts in blog posts and collateral, follow up with case studies and syndicate it.”

“Good idea,” said the VP of engineering. “So, when are you going to write it?”

“I’m not going to write it. Why don’t you?”

“I don’t have the time.”

“Neither do I.”


“I know: let’s have the tech writers do it,” the CTO said. “They know everything about the product. Let’s talk to Tech Pubs and see whether they can cut us a writer for a few days. We can push them some graphics and text, and they can re-purpose some of the product documentation.”

“OK. Then we can throw a technical review on it and get it out there.”

Tech writer vs. technology marketing writer

Like all engineers, these two have noble goals. They understand the value of a good technology marketing piece — in this case, a white paper — and how it can help them build the conversation with customers and prospects. And, they’re smart about all the things you can do with a white paper, once somebody has written it.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

They’re forgetting about the important difference between a technical publication and a technology marketing piece:


Tech writers and marketing writers both need to deliver technical information and details accurately. But technical writers don’t need to persuade anybody of anything; the customer has already bought the product. Marketing writers are at work before the purchase has taken place; their stock in trade is persuasion.

A technical conversation starts with a writer who is able to balance technical depth with persuasion. Technology marketing content unveils the advantages of your company’s product while persuading the reader to take the next step: click on the link, register for a demo, subscribe to a feed, pull out a credit card.

It isn’t that technical writers don’t know how to persuade. It’s that user documentation and API references don’t require persuasion, so tech writers are unaccustomed to building it into their work.

The moral: Leave your documentation to Tech Pubs and your persuasive pieces to Marketing.

photo credit: Julio González


Author: John White

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