Technical writing is, well, technical, and usually employed to instruct or explain the details of something complex. It is impersonal, succinct and austere.
Writing about technology (as in communicating about a technology-oriented business), on the other hand, is more about unraveling the technical jargon for an audience that really wants to know “What can you do for me?”
Sure, you need to translate exactly what you do, how you do it and why what you do is different (better) than the other guy, but, more often than not, it is a very personal story. Because, in the end, what most technology businesses are delivering is comfort, ease, efficiency, and/or savings—be it time or money (or both). These four tips will help you get out of the trenches and take that view from 30,000 feet, combining the utilitarian with the intimate in a way that will get the best results.
1. Know yourself
Effectively writing about tech means weaving the human element into the technical and keeping your focus on the customer and their points of interaction with your product or service rather than on simply what your business does.
If you don’t know what your key benefits and differentiators are potential customers most certainly won’t know either. But your story is more than just product features. Highlighting your company culture, vision, and back story as part of the overall brand makes you more than just another firm and makes you relatable. It is the difference between getting a friendly human being versus a “press 1, press 2” voicemail system when you call customer service. There are people behind your product, and even in the tech arena, people would rather deal with people any day.
2. Know your customer
You know your industry inside and out, but that doesn’t mean your customer does. And they don’t need to. What they need to know is how you can improve their business. What are their industry pain points? What are the challenges they face day-to-day or year-to-year? Effectively communicating an understanding of where your customers’ needs are is the first step toward creating a receptive audience. When a potential customer can identify with the picture you’re painting, they’re more apt to listen to the next piece of your message: the solution.
3. Know “the solution”
The main difference between writing about tech versus technical writing comes down to “the solution.” Technical writing focuses on the process and the “how.” When writing about tech from a marketing perspective the goal is really to effectively communicate the “why” — how your product or service is the best answer to particular challenges. Your solution should be supported by technical details, but needs to be more than just specs. It is the story of how the benefits and differentiators will improve business as a whole. These are your deliverables, your promise to customers.
4. Know how to show it
Of course, writing about technology that is devoid of detail or is full of empty promises is just as bad as marketing materials that read like an instruction manual or schematic. Real world examples are golden, but avoid veering too far away from the details of what your product or service does. We’ve all read those testimonials and customer stories that sound like a love fest — all “they are awesome” statements but very little substance. A testimonial should address a particular issue or highlight a specific feature benefit. A case study should include both positive reviews as well as measurables that support them. Show it; don’t tell — it’s the old writing adage that holds true every time.
Effectively writing about tech means weaving the human element into the technical and keeping your focus on the customer and their points of interaction with your product or service rather than on simply what your business does. While technical writing is an essential part of clarifying complex topics or procedures, its function is to strip material down to the bare bones. Writing about your tech, on the other hand, should be about giving your business heart.