Published on March 4th, 2016
As CEO of the content marketing company Media Shower, I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of companies. Frequently, they’ll ask us to write content for their company blog, but then warn us: “Our business is probably too technical for you.”
Maybe their business is data mining software, or medical EHR systems, or specialized financial analysis. Generally, we hear this from a “subject matter expert,” someone who has worked in this business for years and has a brain the size of a planet, but this claim isn’t as simple as it may seem.
There are three reasons why this argument is false (and one very good solution when it’s not). Read on.
Reason #1: It’s Not Too Technical for Your Customers
We once worked with a company that made test measurement products, in other words, they made highly-calibrated devices used for precision weighing (like in scales) or for precision torque measurements (like in auto engines).
Do you see how I just described their products to you in plain English? That’s the key here.
If you went to this client’s original website, you would read pages of meaningless jargon about “load cells” and “torque sensors,” along with reams of technical data that was about as interesting to read as an electronics catalog.
“But our audience loves reading electronics catalogs!” some would say say. “They’re engineers!”
Somehow, however, I don’t think these engineers are curling up in bed at night with a thick manual of calibration measurements.
When you’ve spent your career immersed in a technical field, you get a kind of myopia, a hyper-nearsightedness to the technical details of your craft.
As one of my management mentors put it, you’re “one inch wide and three miles deep.”
This is not how you market to your customers.
How do you?
We all want content that engages, that draws us in. The human brain is hardwired for stories, which is why I just told you a story above (and will tell you another story below).
We want to know your company story; why your products or service are the best. You have to show, don’t tell.
Yes, your customers need the technical specifications of technical products, but most engineers overestimate the actual technical needs of their content, or their writing team.
They’re three miles down in their one-inch hole, and it’s awfully hard to hear someone that far down.
Reason #2: The Outsider’s Perspective is Powerful
Let’s be honest: most engineers are not very good writers. As marketers, they’re even worse.
It’s a huge competitive advantage to have an outside company write your content because it brings a new perspective and approach to explaining what you do.
It’s the same reason smart job seekers hire resume specialists, and presidents hire scriptwriters. They are experts in areas you aren’t.
In a technical industry, you can easily forget how to translate your product and services into terms the general public can understand.
I can’t count the number of company websites I’ve visited and thought, “I have no idea what this company does.” That’s because they’re mired in meaningless industry mumbo-jumbo and buzzwords.
After talking with the customer on the phone, however, I always say, “I understand exactly what they do.”
Much of the value an agency like IMPACT brings to the table is simply the ability help to help businesses articulate their offering, simply. Making things simple is one of the most difficult things you can do in marketing – especially for a technical industry.
It’s not the features you sell, it’s how they benefit your customer.
From the outsider’s perspective, you’re not in the load cell and torque sensor business, you’re help companies achieve perfect measurements. You’re not in the EMR business, you help medical offices save time and money.
This is the difference between the view of the technical expert and the view of the customer. To really get across that point of view, you need the outsider’s perspective (and skillful writing, of course) to develop a clear message that will truly resonate with your audience.
Reason #3: You Won’t Find The Green Unicorn Who Can Write It
At Media Shower, we give new customers a free test article, so they see the quality of our content for themselves. For example, we once wrote a test article for a customer who makes oil and gas exploration software. It was a terrific article, but the customer wasn’t satisfied.
“If you don’t go with Media Shower,” asked our amazing sales director, Pete Angus, “what’s your alternative?”
“I think we really need someone with deep experience in the oil and gas exploration industry,” he said. “Preferably someone with a Ph.D. in the field.”
“Who understands marketing,” added Pete. “And can write for blogs.”
“Where would you find that person?” asked Pete.
The customer sighed. “I don’t know.”
“And how much would you pay?”
“Probably a lot.”
The correct answer was you won’t find that person.
If you’re looking for a highly specific Ph.D., with experience, who understands marketing, and is available to write blog posts for you, that person most likely doesn’t exist.
It’s like looking for a green unicorn.
(Like this one, but with the ability to type.)
And even if you do find one, you will likely pay a fortune per blog post.
The Solution: The Thoroughbred and the Live Interview
We’ve found there is no industry that is so highly specialized that a talented writer with good experience in a related field can’t do content marketing for your business.
Your business doesn’t need a green unicorn or, in fact, any unicorn at all. In most cases, a thoroughbred horse will do.
Note: I did not just call our writers horses. I called them thoroughbreds.
The best solution is to get on the phone with a thoroughbred writer for a live interview.
Have the writer ask you – or your in-house technical expert – a series of questions, which they can then turn into terrific content for your website. This solution works well because:
You can still show your expertise. The specialist interviewed can be quoted throughout the content, showing the depth of your in-house expertise – with the polish and storytelling of the professional writer.
One interview can be turned into multiple posts. We can usually get four posts out of a single, hour-long repurposed interview. That’s a worthwhile use of your company time compared to asking the subject matter expert to spend several hours writing a single blog post.
You really have no alternative. I’ve seen countless customers tell themselves they’ll just write the blog posts in-house, but this never happens. People are too busy doing their own jobs to write blog posts on a consistent basis. If you don’t want to hire a person dedicated to creating content, don’t add to the workload of existing employees that don’t have the expertise.
Content marketing is highly technical in its own way. I could have packed the post above with meaningless jargon and reams of data too, but instead, I told you stories about what we’ve learned, with the goal of helping you do your own content marketing better.
It is my hope that you will do the same with your marketing and working with skilled content marketing companies like IMPACT and Media Shower can help you do so.
Sir John Hargrave is the author of Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days, now available worldwide.