What 400 Technology Companies Have Taught Me about Content

The tech marketer’s search for credible data against which to benchmark their content strategies and tactics is an ongoing process.

I think I can save you some time.

I’m a sort of walking survey about how technology companies think and act when it comes to content. My over 400 tech clients range from monster enterprises to startups. And while, no, I didn’t survey them, I have participated in thousands upon thousands of technology marketing content projects with them—from planning to publication.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about how tech companies deal with content.

They Respect Their Market’s Expertise

My clients use as little GMB as possible: they know their markets are too smart for it. These are experts. Generally speaking, they know the substance behind marketing content better than the content creators do. They’re annoyed when you dance around the topic, fluff up the story—or do anything else but tell them what they want to know. It might take a little sizzle out of the content, but they’re more Dragnet than NCIS. Just the facts ma’am.

They Focus on Features Not Benefits

That expertise means that the markets already know the benefits (and let’s face it, in technology you really only get two: save money or make money). After all, they’ve read all about them on every one of your competitor’s web sites and data sheets and on and on. Don’t get me wrong. They do talk benefits in their content. That’s how they let readers know everyone’s on the same page. But, I’d say, off hand, without using a ruler or anything like that, that the ratio of features to benefits content is something like 5 to 1.

In and Out

The people that we target are busy—the highlight of their day is not reading product promotion or white papers or anything else. Get to the point, and get them moving to the next step in the cycle. I know it’s harder and takes longer to write a short piece than a long piece, but for my clients that’s what works. Remember what Abraham Lincoln said, when asked how long technology marketing content should be: “Long enough to reach the market.”

They Expect Interesting Content

That’s why they hire copywriters like me. The fact that we’re dealing with facts and features doesn’t mean that they expect the end result to be dull. Just the opposite. I’m charged to find the story in the topic, to create a structure that keeps a reader interested, to find the right style and lexicon to connect with the market. It has to be interesting. But they don’t want me to make the piece interesting to me; they want it to be interesting to their prospects.

They Use a Few Cooks

A heresy I know—too many cooks may spoil the broth, but not if they know what they’re doing. My clients engage product management, sales, PR, and definitely engineering in the content process. Of course, it’s well managed; we’re not looking for a salad chef who wants to tell us how to season the salmon. But bringing their knowledge of the customer, the market, the technology—and more—to bear is a standard part of the best processes.

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