Presentation on theme: "STC Houston March 11, 2014 Erika Frensley. Technical Communication, even basic reference and user manuals, is often used as a marketing tool for your."— Presentation transcript:
STC Houston March 11, 2014 Erika Frensley
Technical Communication, even basic reference and user manuals, is often used as a marketing tool for your product, even if you don’t realize it. Documentation supports the product and helps sell it Like it or not, we’re part of marketing
Technical Communication ◦ Informs the user of the product ◦ Instructs the user how to use the product to achieve their goals Marketing Communication ◦ Describes the product to the customer ◦ Persuades the customer to use the product to achieve their goals
Demonstrations - viewing the product in action Documentation – what does the documentation say? Testimonials – white papers, examples, word of mouth
Sales shows how the product helps customers achieve their goal by presenting: Online help and documentation Classes and tutorials White Papers and presentation Demonstrations Testimonials and web reviews
User analysis ◦ What is the user trying to achieve? What user problems can be solved with the product? Product Knowledge ◦ How does the product help the user achieve their goals? How does the product support software or hardware?
User analysis for customer problems and goals Product knowledge for how the user uses the product for those goals
Sales departments are no longer the only source of sales information for a product Technical documentation is no longer the only information for a product ◦ Blogs, forums, reviews, wikis are direct customer experiences of the product All this means… Branding of a product is holistic and includes sales, marketing, support, and technical documentation design and approach
User manuals/Quick Reference –the scope and instructions for the product Overview guides (Getting Started, Introduction, Overviews) –the introduction to the product and a summary of the features Data sheets –the quick summary of the product and the included equipment/functions White papers – actual case studies and reports on how the product was used Online help/wikis/forums – web-based help searched for by current and potential customers
Become part of the product marketing team Ensure that you know the marketing points for the product Work with marketing, not against them
Branding and identity ◦ What is the company branding and the product identity Benefits of the product ◦ How does the product work better than other similar products ◦ What are specific problems that the product solves Goals for the product ◦ What goals does the product help the user achieve
Documentation design that follows the marketing design/company design Documentation approach and voice for the product ◦ Write in the suitable voice for the product. A software product geared to novices needs a friendly voice Main selling/branding points for your product ◦ If the main selling points for your product are security, compliance, and auditing, document the product and highlight how the product provides security, helps with regulatory compliance, and provides an audit trail
Does the product work more efficiently than other products because of the approach? ◦ New approach allows more flexibility in viewing and searching the data ◦ For example, the benefits of a seismic analysis program that more views for the data than other programs Does the product solve specific problems for the user ◦ Creation of views for a different analysis of the data ◦ For example, creating a seismic view from data is solved by the program automatically creating the view from selected data
What is the user trying to do? ◦ Organize information without dealing with innards of a database ◦ For example, create a recipe database How does the product make life easier for the user ◦ The information can be sorted and printed easily ◦ For example, a recipe database can be sorted by ingredient or name, and printed into a booklet
User documentation must be accurate, but optimistic to the benefits ◦ The product is supposed to provide certain benefits, so highlight them in the documentation Excitement matters ◦ The product is a great product that will help the user achieve their goals Ease of understanding ◦ Workflows and diagrams are not just for instruction, but for understanding the flow and ease of using the product
It’s OK to add friendliness to documentation It’s OK to add some excitement to documentation We want users to feel good about and from reading the documentation If reading the documentation that you wrote makes you think of a droning lecture, how does the user feel about the documentation and the product?
Copywriting is advertising – appeals to the emotions of the customer Technical communication is information – appeals to the intellect of the user Technical copywriting – presents information to the intellect while engaging the emotions of the customer
Branding/selling point ◦ Independent units for remote areas Technical information only The FireFly units include a 192 cell lithium-ion battery that powers the 2.4 Ghz internal radio. The internal radio communicates with the central station. Technical copywriting The radios and the lithium-ion batteries allow the FireFly units to be placed in more remote areas while communicating with the central station and maintain power for recording.
PATROL Knowledge Modules (monitor and manage databases) ◦ User documentation used many user scenarios/stories to explain how the product parameters notified and suggested solutions. ◦ These stories were used in marketing to help sell the product. FireFly Getting Started/Hawk Overview ◦ A complex system using four different equipment staging areas and three major phases in the project, but using one database. ◦ Desperation in describing system components and how they worked together led to the Getting Started/Overview. ◦ Sales used the Getting Started to present the product to potential buyers (including sealing the deal on a multi- million dollar project)
Company web site for an auditing and compliance software product The website information is accurate, but deadly dull, full of marketing buzzwords but little branding information Vice President of the company knew sales were lost based on the website and documentation Explicitly wanted a more technical approach using technical communication principles so that corporations were comfortable with the product