Technology marketing writing is a delicate balance. Just ask that writer we hired to help with our tech evangelism effort.
This is what the director of engineering told him to do:
“Write a series of technical articles to help evangelize our products,” he said. “We need to get the word out about them, so we’ll put the articles on the developer website. They should be about two to three pages each and introduce developers and customers to the new features they can use to create apps on our platform. We’ll give you the topics, and you do the rest: interview the engineers, talk to the product managers, write up the drafts, circulate them, edit them and submit them to the web team. Got that?”
The writer said yes, he got that.
Based on those instructions, he executed very well for several weeks. He delivered reliably and on time.
But it turned out that what we told him to do is not what we wanted him to do.
Meat, muffins and technology marketing writing
“There’s too much fluff in the articles,” observed the director of engineering after reviewing four or five articles. “We need more meat instead of muffins.”
The writer was perplexed.
“I thought you wanted evangelism,” he said. “If you want me to turn up the technical heat, I will. But if all you really want is more pages of technical language, why not have a technical writer do it?”
“Because we want more than technical writing. We want to engage developers and get them interested in the platform.”
“Okay,” said the writer. “To me, that means you want persuasion. That means we tell them ‘finger-lickin’ good’ instead of ‘cut-up dead chicken parts.'”
The director of engineering and the technology marketing writer were not speaking the same language. I tried to interpret.
“Can you give us something more technical, yet not turn the content into a user guide?” I asked.
“Sure. I just need to know whether you want meat or muffins,” he said.
“How about meaty muffins?” asked the director of engineering.
That was a good way to put it. We’ll make a marketer of him yet.
The articles got deeper and the director of engineering became more pleased. People started reading them more and spending more time on them, according to our web analytics.
The moral: Meaty muffins
When you hire a technology marketing writer, be sure to explain how shallow or deep you want the content to be.
When you finally strike the right balance and come up with the meaty muffins you’re looking for, even software engineers will feel good about reading, forwarding and commenting on it.
photo credit: Laura Bernhardt