Why Your Copywriter is Failing

If you are a technology company using a conventional copywriter, your first problem is getting the copywriter to understand what you do. As difficult as that may be, your next problem is getting them to understand why it’s different from what your competitors do.gibbrish

In the end, what usually happens is you write your own copy and have them just “fix the English”. The result is mediocre. Someone reaching your web site probably understands what you do. Your blog posts convey the message, but not necessarily concisely or beautifully.

To produce really great marketing copy, you actually have to understand what you are writing about, why it’s different, why it’s important, and what your audience wants.

I recently rewrote the website for Scoreoid, a company in the Microsoft Accelerator. The first thing they told me was that they were developers and it was important to them to sound like developers. They didn’t want too much marketing blah-blah.

As we were going through the site, I told them they needed to make the “Download Now” button more dominant on the home page. “We don’t have a download,” said the CEO. “It’s an API.” I paused to register that and said “Oh, cool. That’s very clever.” We moved on.

Now, if you were a normal person, not someone fluent in Engineeze, you would not understand why it’s so cool to have an API rather than an SDK. If you just knew what an API and an SDK are, you might think they were almost the same thing, and they are. But because we were sitting in Microsoft, and developing on the Azure cloud, it was clear to me what he meant when he said it’s an API, not an SDK, so we just moved on. (In case you’re interested, there’s also a dashboard for management and analytics.)

If I were a normal copywriter, you’d have to waste your time explaining that to me. Then you’d have to waste your time getting rid of all the extra copy that I wrote to explain how cool this is, when your target audience already understands it with the simple sentence “No download necessary.”

As we were viciously cutting text to be more concise, the CEO asked me how we could tell people about all the additional features coming, but without committing to anything or giving away too much detail.

“You can’t,” I said. He just looked at me. “You can’t because if you do, you will be entering BS Zone. You said you don’t want them to think you are a bunch of marketers.” A non-tech marketer isn’t going to say that to you. In fact, probably most tech marketers won’t either. Marketers aren’t always aware of the disconnect between reality and most of what we say. That’s why most people prefer to have lunch with developers.

In short, shameless self-promotion. Don’t settle for a writer who doesn’t understand what you do AND what the market landscape/ecosystem looks like. Your message will fall short. It will be difficult to produce technical articles to submit to journals, blog and cross-blog intelligently, and just generally relate to your audience.

What’s the funniest or most frustrating thing that happened to you when you tried to explain your product to a non-techie? Let me know in the comments below or on social media.

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Rebecca Rachmany

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