Communication isn’t always a strong point for tech workers. Many of them think, “I either go too low-level or too high-level. I can never seem to get it quite right.”
It’s difficult to distill complex technological concepts into concise and understandable language. Many people in technology find it challenging to write about their accomplishments. And a lot of content writers shy away from writing about complicated technology. They think that “technical writing” is a soulless endeavor with no creativity involved (not true, by the way). So, what’s the answer to this dilemma?
Technical content writing!
It’s the best of both worlds – writing skills and technical expertise form a powerful combination.
Well, let’s find out from everyone’s favorite source of information – the internet. According to Wikipedia the aim of technical content writing is to, “communicate technical information to another person or party in the clearest and most effective manner possible.”
Let’s break this down with an example.
“You’re a cybersecurity company providing a new SIEM product hosted in Azure that ingests logs from endpoints and servers, then examines that data with additional context provided by Netflow V9 logs taken from the network edge device. This tool compares that data against an established “normal” baseline using K-Nearest Means clustering and live threat data from honeypots scattered throughout the world. Finally, data and potential anomalies are displayed in real time via a dashboard built using react with an automated blocking functionality accomplished by adding firewall rules via API integration.”
Whew. That was a mouthful.
Unless you have a technical background that may as well have been Greek. Nobody would buy a product sold using that language. So we have to distill it down. But how much? First you need to figure out who you are selling to by creating buyer personas (more on that here). For example, if you are selling to an IT professional this may be a better description:
“Our revolutionary cybersecurity product pulls data from laptops, servers, and your company’s firewall. We then establish a baseline to determine what is normal for your network. For instance, if most of your traffic is usually within the United States and the system detects a surge in connections from East Asia, that might be a cause for concern. In addition we compare data to known malicious connections collected from servers around the world. We then display this information in an easy to understand format and automatically block harmful connections. The average IT manager using our SIEM tool saves 7 hours per week while improving their company’s security. Now that’s a win.”
But what if you need to take it further? What if you are selling a complex product to buyers with no domain specific knowledge at all?
Then we need to communicate value. Rather than describe how the product works, we can describe how it benefits the consumer.
Let’s distill that language down into something that would communicate the benefit to a small business:
“Did you know that hackers and malicious actors are increasingly using automated attacks to find vulnerabilities in small business networks and exploit them? If you’re like most business owners you probably want to focus on growing your business and providing your services rather than worrying about the technicalities of network defense. Our revolutionary cybersecurity platform can be installed in minutes and provides fully automated defense. We leverage machine learning and live threat intelligence gathered from networks around the world to provide a solution that allows you to automatically prevent attacks – before they happen. The best part? This leaves you free to focus on growing your business, confident in the knowledge that you have a substantially lower risk profile.”
That’s technical content writing in a nutshell.
Taking complex material and showing the value in it. This is an extremely valued and desired skill.
Technical content writers also play a role in standardizing your content across various platforms so all of your material reflects your brand’s core messaging framework. You need effective technical content writing in all marketing content, including:
Interactive tools like quizzes
Instructions and user manuals
eBooks and white papers
Your website’s copy
A frequently asked questions page
Descriptions of your services
Your social media posts
…and many more!
Technical content writing communicates what you do in a way that your potential customers will understand. But more than that, it needs to elicit desire. Desire is a critical component in the buyer’s journey and in selling. If your buyer can’t picture their life being better with your product, you’ve already lost.
We noted in our blog post on website design that most people spend less than 15 seconds on a webpage. If a small business owner comes to your site, they’re very likely to leave immediately if they’re faced with confusing technical language.
People have very limited attention spans. You need your website copy to be engaging and digestible. Explicitly tell visitors what they will get out of your services right off the bat. Make your content easy to read, and make it compelling. They’ll be more likely to stick around if you can do this. Technical content writers are masters at communicating value from the complex.
You’re an expert at what you do. You’ve crushed the coding and built a piece of revolutionary software. In fact, you think your software can change the world. You sit and wait, knowing that the buyers will come, but they never seem to. You even make a Twitter and Facebook page but getting followers seems like pulling teeth.
But you might find it hard to communicate your product because you know so much about it. If someone asked you what the benefits were, you could list 100. But, you need to communicate the benefits that apply to them.
There’s a term for this – it’s known as “expert blind spot”, and it’s a well-known concept in psychology. Think back to your days in school. We’ve all had a teacher (mine was a professor of history in college) who knew a lot about a specific topic. But try as they might they never actually taught well.
They’re passionate about it, they’re an expert in their field, they’ve even written a dissertation about it. But they have a hard time placing themselves in the shoes of a novice. And an even harder time communicating that knowledge to a novice.
It’s a similar phenomena in marketing for tech companies. This is where technical content writing comes in.
You need an intermediary. A person who is between the level of expert and novice and can concisely write in a way that appeals to your target audience. Experienced technical content writers understand the technical language. They have collaborated with many software developers and computer engineers. They may have even dabbled in working in tech themselves. They are able to write well. They can create buyer personas at the drop of a hat. They know how to do market research. But most critically they know how to communicate to your target audience.
In a previous post, we wrote about why 70% of tech startups go out of business around the two-year mark. Some even had millions in funding. Several of the top 10 reasons for failure involved, “not listening to them (customers) or even ignoring them”. In other words, not communicating with their target audience. Your idea is only as good as the number of people willing to buy it.
You could have the most fantastic idea in the world. But without good copywriting and value communication it will fall flat. This is why top-tier technical content writing is critical for any tech company today.
Marketing agencies such as Vale Creative offer technical content writing services. So do many content writing freelancers, although be sure to request a sample of prior work. It’s worth the investment to have a technical content writer optimize your website. Take it further and begin working on blogging, gated content, and even an eBook. All these things help establish your brand as an expert in your industry. But most importantly they will help turn leads into sales. Excellent technical content writing can make the difference between an acquisition and a bankruptcy.
You (and your company) are the hero. You bring much-needed and valuable services to your customers. A good technical content writer is a helper on your hero’s journey – the Sam to your Frodo. The Ron to your Harry. The Athena to your Odysseus.
Ok, hopefully one of those references worked. You get the point.
Technical content writing helps your company on the journey to successfully engaging with your audience and generating leads. Technical content writing is able to transform complicated information into a form of writing that will entertain, compel, and persuade potential customers. Let technical content writing guide your brand on its mission to steer more consumers on the path towards buying your services.