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Janice King
near Seattle, Washington USA
Freelance Technology Writer and Author
Interests: As a marcom or PR manager in a technology company, you know that good writing is essential for successful marketing and sales materials. This blog will help you obtain that high-quality writing, whether you are working with a freelance writer, an in-house writer, or doing the writing yourself. Each post focuses on practical ideas, resources, tips, and techniques that are specifically relevant to high-tech marketing. In developing this content, I draw from my experience as a freelance technical copywriter working with large technology companies around the world. You can learn more about me and my technical copywriting services at: http://www.writespark.com. Do you have questions, ideas, resources of your own to share? Feel free to add them as a comment on a post. Specialties: White paper writer, case study writer, Web content writer, blog writer
Recent Activity
Your marketing department may produce dozens of new white papers each year, but how often do you refresh an existing one? For many technology marketers, once a white paper is written and posted it's instantly forgotten. Yet many older white papers can deliver renewed value to your promotional efforts with less expense, time, and effort than producing a new one. Use these criteria to determine whether a white paper is a good candidate for a refresh: Continues to attract a large number of sales leads or downloads. These papers offer proven performance that you'll want to sustain. Promotes a major... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2014 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
What do you do for viewers after they've watched your live webinar? What do you do with those who (gasp!) have left the session early, before they see the slide with your call to action and web link for more information? Based on my Webinar experiences lately, you may be abandoning valuable leads right at the point when you have their attention. See if this experience is familiar. Last month I was registered for two webinars during the same hour, so I left one early and joined the other late. I assumed the companies would send a link to the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2014 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
Do you have the interviewing skills that can help you get a great case study...and strengthen your relationship with the customer at the same time? Or, do you just "wing it," relying on the right information to magically emerge during the interview call, as long as you can keep the customer talking? Anytime you interview a customer, you have a golden opportunity to elicit powerful, effective content for a case study. But only if you know how to guide the interview with the right questions that are asked in the right way. I've led hundreds of case study interviews and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2014 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
Last month I was on the website of a major technology company, looking for basic information about a product. I entered the product name into the search field and the first page of links to come up were all related to developer's notes. Not exactly what I was looking for. Going through the product menu was no help either, because the overview page I found there was so full of photos and fancy formatting and there was no option to get a simple print version. Is this company trying to push prospects away (unlikely) or is it simply caught up... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2014 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
The quiet that comes when work slows for the the holidays is a good time to catch up on the best marketing resources of the past year. Here are three that I recommend: 101 Examples of Effective Calls to Action from Hubspot. Full of useful examples for presenting an eye-catching, action-motivating call to action on a webpage. Although largely focused on the visual presentation of call to action buttons and links, copywriters who work with a designer on web content can also learn new techniques from this guide. Blueprint of a Modern Marketing Campaign from Kapost. The concept of "content... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
You've searched on LinkedIn and Google. You've called every trade magazine reporter you've ever met to see if they accept freelance gigs. You've asked every colleague, ad agency person, friend, relative, neighbor, and dog you know. And still you haven't been able to find a freelance copywriter who has that magic combination of good writing skills and strong knowledge of your technology. Yet you know that your sales materials need the polish and clarity brought by a professional writer. What can you do? You'll likely need to consider working with a technical copywriter who has good skills and relevant experience,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
Good content is a shame to waste. Especially when it's right in front of you, ready to be adapted for a document, video, or presentation. So often when I'm working on a content marketing project, I see good stories and information go by the wayside simply because they don't fit the immediate need. For example, when interviewing customers for their perspectives on a white paper topic, I often gather a substantial amount of information that would be useful for a case study. All it would take is a few more questions and a few more minutes of interview time to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
What's wrong with this statement? 30% of users who rely mostly on voice calls + 40% of users who rely mostly on texting = 70% of users are ready to adopt video calls It seems pretty simple: The numbers 30+40 add up to 70, so the statement must be correct, right? Well, maybe. The statement isn't clear about the causality of the final result, in two ways: About the relationship of choices: The fact that some users rely on voice and some on texting does not inherently mean they are ready to adopt video calls. About the complete data set:... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
A typical job ad for a copywriter includes a statement like this: "Must be able to write all types of content, from white papers to webpages to tweets." Sounds good, right? Indeed, some freelance writers promote themselves as the one person who can take care of all your copywriting needs. But that single-source approach may not in fact be the best way to serve your content marketing projects. Different project types simply have differing needs for a writer's knowledge, skill, and focus. For example, consider the demands of writing a long-form project, such as a white paper, compared to the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
A recent series of TechTarget reports offers many helpful insights for content marketing that targets IT buyers. Four insights in particular caught my attention. Serial IT Specialists. TechTarget correctly notes that many IT professionals now move from one area to another as new technologies emerge and are adopted by their employers. These buyers seek content that will help them progress from basic to advanced topics in their new technology focus. White papers, video tech talks, FAQs, case studies, and buying or application guides are content ideas to consider. Globally Relevant Content. The TechTarget survey found that for IT buyers in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
Go to the website of many technology companies and find the link for case studies. The page that appears is likely a long, undifferentiated list of all the case studies the company has ever produced. What a lost promotional opportunity! Instead of taking time to look through the list, most customers will click on just the first one or two links. Or, they'll look for a company name they recognize, even if that case study isn't necessarily relevant to their interests or situation. Two quick and easy projects can make your case studies much more appealing to customers and increase... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
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A note from Janice: Professional services for activities such as infrastructure assessments, deployment planning, and outsourced IT operations are a significant revenue stream for many technology companies. However, these services aren't often the focus of guidance for effective marketing. In this guest post, Hinge Marketing, which specializes in professional services firms, presents interesting data about online marketing strategies that can benefit any company offering technology services. How Services Firms Grow with Online Marketing by Sylvia Montgomery Our research team, Hinge Research Institute, reviewed findings from our survey on 500 CEOs, executives and marketers from professional services firms for the book... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
Although April Fool's Day was last week, its mischievous spirit is active year-round in technology marketing projects. And this mischief often reflects the proverbial Murphy's Law, that "whatever can go wrong, will." So, with tongue firmly in cheek, here are my top 12 ways that Murphy's Law applies to technical copywriting projects. The product feature for which you have written the cleverest messages won't be ready when the product ships. If you come up with a new buzzword, readers will think it means the exact opposite of your definition. Spell-check will not point out a misspelled acronym, and this misspelling... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
A prime customer has just agreed to participate in a case study for your product--great news! But it can be tempting to turn what should be a focused case study interview call into an extended grilling of the customer for every bit of product feedback you can get. That's a mistake for two reasons: The customer may lose patience with the process and back-out of the case study. The result: you lose the much higher marketing value of a full case study for just a few more data points that could be better collected in an online survey or a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
A note from Janice: I know that not every technology company has the budget to hire a freelance technical copywriter with my depth of subject knowledge, writing skill, and marketing savvy. For these companies, the freelance marketplace sites can be a good way to find writers for less-demanding content projects. But using these sites can be overwhelming and nonproductive if not approached carefully. In this helpful guest post, marcom manager Christine Farrier offers practical advice on finding the right freelance writer on the marketplace sites. Her tips also apply to finding writers through a LinkedIn or Google search. Four Tips... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
At the beginning of the year, your content marketing plans are likely focused on new, new, new: New white papers, sales brochures, Web articles, and customer case studies. But equally valuable marketing opportunities may await you in the old--through a relatively simple, fast, and inexpensive refresh of your best existing materials. For example, look at white papers and ebooks where the core content is still relevant, but information such as market statistics, application examples, and messaging about your products needs updating. Some years ago, I wrote a tutorial guide which my client used as the primary piece for attracting sales... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2013 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
This month's list focuses on my best posts and recommended resources for content marketing as it applies to technology products, services, and companies. If you are involved in producing any type of technical sales or promotional materials, you'll find these posts helpful: What does the content tell you? How to look beyond the standard collateral list to create fresh ideas for marketing content. Decision makers like details. When product specifications and other technical details can be critical for encouraging a favorable buying decision. Content tips for e-books. Ideas you may not have considered for writing long-form e-books or print books.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
This month's list focuses on my best posts and recommended resources for white papers. If you are a white paper writer or you manage white paper writing projects, you'll want to read these posts: Is your topic worthy of a white paper? Guidance for choosing which topics are really worth the expense and effort of a white paper. Top 10 ways to be a good SME. Tips to pass along to your engineers and product managers for providing helpful input for a white paper project. Set the purchasing agenda with white papers. Techniques for structuring white paper content to frame... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
In this blog, I frequently write about case studies, white papers, and content marketing for technical products and technology companies. Over the next few months, I'll list what I consider to be my very best posts on these topics, along with a few "must have" books and other resources to further your knowledge. If you are involved in writing or managing customer case studies for high-tech marketing, you'll find useful ideas in these posts: Does your team know what makes a good case study? Tips for saving time and identifying the best candidates when searching for case study prospects. What... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
One of your sales reps sends a breathless e-mail: "XYZ company just signed a contract. They'd make a great success story!" Or, you're preparing to launch a new product and you know that a strong customer case study would be very helpful for substantiating your marketing messages. So, you ask the product manager whether any of the customers involved in beta testing or early product release would be good candidates. In both cases, what input do you receive? Most likely, just a customer name and contact details, with little if any information on the story itself. And so you must... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
It's easy to overload technology white papers with content that is irrelevant and poorly structured for the reader's interest. These bloated documents can mean not only diminished marketing results, but also a missed opportunity for delivering the information prospects seek. According to an Eccolo Media survey of IT buyers, "... white papers that don't contain enough technical information are more likely to disappoint than those that possess too much." The ideas below will help you avoid this problem by trimming the "fat"--unnecessary or excessive content--from your technical white papers. Avoid throat-clearing text. Many documents begin with a history review, basic... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
What can a catalog about sewing threads teach a technology marketer about writing effective sales content? A lot about missed opportunities for engaging prospects and motivating them to make a purchase. I create art quilts as a hobby and at a recent trade show I eagerly picked up a catalog from a well-regarded specialty thread manufacturer. With hundreds of threads on the market, I was looking for detailed guidance about the qualities of each thread, its best application in terms of projects and fabrics, and which needle size to use for best results. What I got was a lot of... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
It's easy to understand that not every freelance writer is a good match for every marketing project. Yet, how can you recognize when you need a specialty writer and identify what kind of writer to seek? These ideas can help your search. You need a writer with specific technical or subject knowledge. Teaching a generalist writer about your products, customers, and applications probably isn't a good use of time--for yourself or your subject experts. A specialty writer, such as a technical copywriter, brings strong knowledge to your projects. And this experience makes a difference in producing on-target content quickly and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
An obvious typo. A usage that shows a clear misunderstanding of the word's meaning or proper use. A statement of quantitative results where the math doesn't add up. A missing or incorrect source citation. These errors seem small on their own, but when they appear multiple times within your materials, they diminish your credibility in a reader's mind. Worse yet, even a simple spelling error can result in a large loss of online sales. Given that a white paper is usually a showcase marketing piece for your product and company, you have every right to expect that the writer has... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights
When you ask questions during a case study interview, do you talk too much? If you're getting answers that are lackluster, confusing, or less complete or enthusiastic than you expect, the problem may be how you asked the questions. Common symptoms: Using more than two sentences for a question. Asking for too much information in a single question. Feeling the temptation to explain a topic or share a story of your experience after you state the question, but before you allow the customer to answer. This explanation or story may guide the customer's response in a different direction because they... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2012 at WriteSpark Tech Marcom Insights