Marketing a technical or industrial product can be challenging. Whether you’re selling software, an app or a high-tech B2B product, you need to communicate the features and benefits of the product without boring the reader.
You want to explain the product in a way that even a layperson can understand but you don’t want the reader to feel like you’re talking down to him. So what should your criteria be and how should the copywriting process work?
The technical copywriter you select doesn’t need to be an expert on your product line, but she does need to feel confident about tackling technical topics. She should be comfortable doing research and have the ability to think critically.
You’ll need to do your part to help too. You should plan to provide background information, either verbally or in written form, to shorten the learning curve. The more complex your product, the greater your requirement to provide input.
Your tech copywriter will need to acquire an understanding of what your product does, who it’s for (knowing your target customer is critical!) and the most important reasons why someone should buy it.
A skilled technical writer will translate the practical features of your software, tech or B2B product into compelling benefits. She might mention that the machine you’re selling produces gizmos at a rate of 100 per hour. But where she’ll really earn her money is in explaining that your machine will produce those gizmos twice as fast as any other machine on the market, resulting in 20%-50% higher productivity.
She might state that the machine is extremely reliable, a true workhorse. But she’ll explain that this means no down time and no more costly repairs that eat into your profit margins. Benefits are what stop readers in their tracks and make them pull out their wallets.
Before putting pen to paper, a good technical copywriter will want to understand your target market. She’ll ask questions such as:
To hit home with your reader, your copy must be relateable. That is, the reader must be able to understand how your product or service will help him. So your technical writer should write from the reader’s perspective.
She should imagine herself in his shoes. What does he care about? What does he most want? What’s most important to him?
She should use words like “you” and “your” a lot more than “we” and “our.” She’ll write your copy as though talking directly to the reader.
When crafting technical copy, you can expect a certain level of sophistication in your reader. But you can’t assume the luxury of asking him to translate what you’re saying into personal terms. Your copywriter needs to do the heavy lifting to keep the reader engaged.
An experienced technical copywriter will know how to incorporate the right amount of jargon into the text. Too much and your reader will be overwhelmed or may not understand what you’re saying. Too little and the reader might question whether you really know your stuff.
What you want to avoid is written copy that is unnecessarily complicated. Technical language used to impress, rather than to inform, is unlikely to be effective. You’ll end up alienating your readers instead of establishing a connection with them.
Depending on the marketing material you’re creating, you’ll have certain space restrictions. A small, tri-fold brochure will limit how much detail you can provide versus say a website, which can have broad pages as well as many sub-pages that delve deeper into the relevant technical information.
One thing to keep in mind though is that details can be highly persuasive. Your copywriter will want to provide specifics about the qualities of your product. It’s not enough to say “This machine spreads seeds fast.” The wow factor is in the particulars: “This machine can seed 10 acres per hour.” And to further impress: “While competitor machines can only seed 5 acres per hour, our machine can seed 10!”
Your readers don’t want to work hard to understand what you’re saying. And that goes for average readers as well as those with expertise in the field you’re writing about. Make your copy easy to read.
A skilled copywriter will break your technical material into manageable chunks. One long paragraph detailing every feature will be daunting to the reader. Instead, explore one or two features per paragraph and keep those paragraphs to no more than six lines.
Also, your copywriter should add interesting subheads that amplify key points. Those titles will help your page have visual appeal and will also be useful to readers who prefer to scan for the information they need.
Even though the material is technical, the copywriting must be interesting and easy to understand. Rare is the person who wants to read stiff, textbook-like prose. Even techies prefer copy that’s simple and doesn’t require deciphering.
Whether your product is complex or easy to understand, the marketing concepts are the same. The tech writer must make the product sound appealing.
She must give solid reasons for the customer to buy. Her words must ring with authenticity, eliminating any concerns and substantiating your company’s credibility with each passing sentence.
A good copywriter will also know that once she has presented the case for your product, then it’s time to add the call-to-action. The best-written page is useless if it never asks for the sale. It’s not enough to expect your prospect to seek out your contact information.
Instead, give thought to what you want the readers to do after reading the material: Click the “Buy Now” button. Schedule an appointment with a salesperson. Or request more information.
To be truly effective in marketing your tech product, you’ll need to have a variety of marketing materials, all of which complement each other and convey the same image and key selling points. They will guide your outreach efforts.
Recently, I had the opportunity to write marketing copy for a large data company that sells its data and data processing technology. The division I worked with specializes in selling to healthcare providers including hospitals, physician practices and medical device/equipment companies. We created the following materials (some of which are still in production):
As you can imagine, the wide variety of marketing materials offered the data company multiple opportunities to target prospective customers and inform them about their products. And together, the full complement of marketing materials was more effective in generating leads and sales than any singular item could have been on its own.
By using just one copywriter, all of the data company’s marketing tools were written in the same “voice” and had the same message for consistency in branding.
When hiring a technical copywriter, you needn’t seek out someone who has specialized knowledge of your particular industry. You simply want someone who is comfortable with technical material and has a solid understanding of marketing. Remember, you’ll still need to provide the facts. But your skilled tech writer will find compelling ways to present them so they ultimately result in leads and sales.