By Joe Gillespie

In a perfect world, marketers would only write about topics and industries that are thrilling, familiar, and an effortless joy to write about. But where’s the challenge in that? Great marketers shine when they take a difficult, technical, and even a little bit boring topic and write about it creatively and with authority.

However, sometimes this isn’t easy …

If you’re writing about a successful product, there is likely someone out there who will want to read about it, no matter how obscure or uninteresting the product may seem. How do you connect with that audience, especially if the details are so technical and, perhaps even over your head? Successful inbound marketing requires you make that connection, so settling for boring, shallow content isn’t an option.

Technical content shouldn’t mean tedious. Here are some strategies for writing creatively for any technical topic or industry:

Understand the Audience

Knowing who you’re writing for sets the stage for inbound content, but it becomes especially important for technical topics and industries. IT professionals bring specialized expertise to everything they do—skills and knowledge that their bosses, who ultimately might be making business decisions, don’t possess.

Similarly, hospital administrators might not have the years of medical training that their doctors have earned, but their opinions might be integral to how those doctors operate.

Thoroughly understanding your buyer personas and which persona is targeted with each piece of content will drive how technical you get. Decision makers might need less detail-oriented but more bottom-line content, or they will want copy that better explains technical nuances for their less-than-technical point of view. IT experts may want the gory details and feel uninspired (or even insulted) with more general content.

The distinction gets tricky when you are writing a single piece of content for multiple personas, necessitating a happy medium between technical and general—but when the personas are clear, the level of detail should be as well.

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Understand the Product

For highly technical products and services, many marketers start as neophytes, knowing less about their companies’ offerings than the people they are marketing to. This learn-as-you-go approach is often unavoidable, but it can still get you where you need to be in understanding the product.

Most importantly, at least from an inbound point of view, is deeply knowing—and being able to write about—how the product or service benefits customers. If you can’t explain why a product works, you’ll struggle to explain how it works.

That said, don’t be satisfied with a cursory knowledge: Take the time to learn at least some of the finer details so that when your subject matter experts (SMEs) discuss the product, you won’t be totally lost. You don’t need to become the foremost authority, but you shouldn’t settle for a basic understanding.

Do Your Research

Even with a decent knowledge of your technical product, topics may come up that go beyond your limited expertise. Inevitably, you will need to conduct some research and maybe even seek out the help of SMEs within your organization. SME interviews are great for not only tackling the topic at hand, but for writing future content.

I find that when I’m talking to a client about an e-book, I always learn something I didn’t know—no matter how much content I’ve written for that client—that I can incorporate into subsequent blog articles. Accumulated knowledge strengthens content and diminishes the need for time-consuming research later.

Technical Doesn’t Mean Dry

Once you’ve figured out the technical details for writing a blog article or e-book, the next challenge is to assemble that knowledge into something that’s creative, smooth, and entertaining.

Often, this is the bigger challenge—those technical details might not be that exciting. Good writers find a way to make the dullest topics interesting, but it takes practice and patience. Some tips for enlivening content that might be inherently boring include:

  • Tell a story: Your product solves a problem, and any problem invites resolution. Explaining the problem and highlighting the conflict sets up a happy ending. Framing technical content in this way highlights solutions and makes the reader feel smarter at the end of the article or e-book.
  • Transition words: Just because a topic is technical doesn’t mean it should read like an instruction manual. Transitional words (e.g., furthermore, however, as a result, therefore, fortunately, unfortunately, and so on) give your content flow and help tell the aforementioned story.
  • Use the right amount of jargon: Although industry jargon can overwhelm some personas, it can signal that you know your stuff to others. Don’t go overboard with the jargon, using it as needed for accuracy and thought leadership.
  • Be descriptive: Strong nouns, verbs, and adjectives pull the reader deeper into the topic and breathe life into otherwise technical details. For example, think about what evokes a stronger response: computer hardware failing to work or imploding? If you can be careful not to lay on the hyperbole too thick, you can use a creative vocabulary to make any topic more interesting.

A nice byproduct of writing for a technical topic or industry is that—if there isn’t much in the way of existing content—you have an opportunity to set the standard within the space. Do a good job at delivering interesting, entertaining insight, and your organization will be the place others in the industry and, most importantly, customers will turn to for compelling information and thought leadership. And that’s never dull!

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Joe Gillespie

About the author

Joe Gillespie is a Senior Brand Journalist for SmartBug Media. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in journalism and is a two-decade veteran of the newspaper industry. As a Senior Brand Journalist, Joe writes and edits inbound marketing content for SmartBug's clients. Read more articles by Joe Gillespie.

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