“Bad information is Marketing’s fault problem. Good information is Tech Comms’ specialty. Let’s do the maths.”

inbound marketing and technical communicationsThe quotation in the title is from Roger Hart’s presentation at last week’s TCUK14 conference. Roger is a product marketing manager who spent a few years as a Technical Author. In his presentation, Collateral damage: do marketing and tech comms have to fight when users get informed?, he explained some of the most powerful marketing content today is high quality user information – especially the content that Technical Authors produce.

Here is Roger’s slide deck (warning – it contains swear words):

He said, however, not everyone sees it that way, which leads to the battle between marketing collateral (including that created by content farms) and the Search Engines as to what appears at the top of the results page. It reminded me of P.L. Travers’s writings on myths, truth and facts – they are separate and yet intertwined. Travers also said people mitigate reality in order to face it. When it comes to inbound marketing, the content produced by technical communicators is more trusted; those facts and truth are more believable to the reader.

Roger also said analysis at his employer, Red Gate Software, had revealed that documentation use was a strong purchase signal. By knowing who was reading the documentation, they could identify the best prospective customers.

The role of technical communication in modern marketing is something we explore on our advanced technical writing techniques course, (however, we will need to update the course before the next one in December to include some of the information Roger discussed).

I’m not sure technical communicators yet understand their value in modern marketing. They need to understand the needs of marketers like Roger. Perhaps marketers also need to understand the role technical communicators can play.

One Comment

Roger Hart

Thanks, Ellis.

Those slides on their own may not be the most use, but I think the conference is going to make the audio available at some point soon.

There’s a lot to get through there, but I’d urge people who are interested to check out some of the references on the final slide. lt’s all about Tech Comms’ place in the modern information landscape, and the fuzziness that brings to the traditional boundaries of support and marking information. But most interesting, I think at least, is the way marketing’s focus is shifting (around frameworks like ZMOT, inbound, and Jobs to Be Done) towards having to provide reliable, authoritative information. There’s a huge opportunity there for both Tech Comms and marketing.

If nothing else, tools for understanding how customers make purchase and usage decisions could well inform on the kinds of help we create for them. the interview techniques behind JTBD are incredibly useful for getting at this.

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