When the devil is in the detail

 In Blog

Knowing your audience is one of the most important things to consider when writing content. Loading copy with a huge amount of technical data may be impressive to the expert, but could alienate those who have the buying power.

Small businesses that cannot employ marketing specialists to write content for them may often find it difficult to create the written material they need to support their sales team.

The struggle will not result from a lack of knowledge about the product, but perhaps quite the opposite. Those who are technical experts may have all the details about the product and its development. But this is not enough.

Unless you are writing for other experts in your particular area, technical details and jargon are not necessarily going to have the most impact.

It is important to know who your audience is. Who has the buying power within the organisation you are selling to?

In some organisations, those who control budgets may be business leaders and management experts, not necessarily the technical people who will use or can see the benefits of your product. It maybe that a case needs to be made to the board, or the CEO or the management team by a member of organisation that your sales team is talking to.

Marketing content that can support your sales teams should always be written in the most accessible way. Get your technical people to help to write data sheets that contain all the technical specifications. But, if you are selling to the management, you may need to put the business case for your product. You need to tell them what it is, what it will do and why that organisation needs it. The content needs to be clearly written, without jargon or over-complication and needs to be accessible.

Look at your competition to see what they are producing. Don’t copy their work, but view their content from a customer perspective to see what they do well and what they don’t.

If you are still not sure that what you have written will get your message across to a non-expert, ask a friend to look over it objectively. They can highlight any areas where the message is unclear.

Finally, you can always follow the advice of George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm. He was also a journalist, essayist and critic and knew how to write content that had an impact. His six rules for writers* have been much discussed and even he was known to break them from time to time. However, as guidelines they can prove useful to consider when you are writing.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.


*From Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.”
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