As a client, how do you decide whether to hire copywriters vs technical writers?
When clients say they want technical writers, they usually mean technical copywriters.
Many companies selling complex technical products or services tend to confuse the two.
While both deal with technical products and services, the jobs of a technical writer and a technical copywriter are two distinct jobs with very different goals. Go here to read more details about hiring each type of writer.
What Technical Writers Do
Technical writers create user documentation, online help, FAQs, instruction manuals, reference guides, procedures and functional specifications.
They are generally hired by enterprise software companies that need documentation for their products, so users can easily understand how to use these products. Technical writers also create training materials such as content for videos, instructional courses, and workplace manuals.
What Technical Copywriters Do
Technical copywriters promote a product or service by writing compelling copy while explaining how it works to their benefit and why the user should buy it. They create landing pages, whitepapers, case studies, and other digital content.
While they have a solid understanding of the product, their job is to persuade the buyer to purchase this product. The whole point of technical copywriting is to make use of words to encourage the target audience to take action. This action could be registering for the service, purchasing the product, subscribing to the newsletter, contacting customer service, and so on.
The Copywriters vs Technical Writers Problem
When companies selling technical or complex products hire a copywriter with little or no technical background, the copywriter often has to spend billable time researching the product or learning about the service.
Even with all this time spent (and paid for), the copywriter often delivers subpar copy because the copywriter did not truly get the product or understand why it truly benefits its target market.
Conversely, when they hire technical writers, the resulting marketing copy falls way short as well, because it is not the job of a technical writer to write sales copy for the product.
So what’s the best solution to this ‘copywriters vs technical writers’ conundrum?
A technical copywriter who combines both technical savvy and sales skills.
The Best of Both Worlds?
Technical copywriters produce the best copy for technical products and services because they themselves have a technical background and know how to explain complex ideas in a way lay people can understand.
With some sales experience, they can parlay this strength into being able to persuade lay people into buying technical products and services.
What Should You Expect From a Good Technical Copywriter?
A technical copywriter is different from a regular copywriter because they are very knowledgeable about the product or service and truly understand the technology behind it. They are able to break down complex technical concepts into a language an average user can understand.
Technical copywriting or B2B copywriting is difficult to master as it requires both technical expertise and persuasive writing ability. This explains why there are so few technical copywriters out there. There aren’t many writers who are proficient in technology and have outstanding copywriting skills.
Skilled technical copywriters, unlike technical writers, have a clear writing style and do not get lost in the jargon when writing about complex topics. They also:
- Keep the writing simple and avoid long verbose sentences.
- Format their content to make it easy to scan.
- Have strong research and analytical skills.
- Understand the technology behind the product or service.
- Research the target market to understand exactly what they are looking for.
Finally, the marketing copy they produce should be clear, interesting, and compelling — not boring, confusing, or full of jargon, despite being of technical nature.
Of course, this is easier said than done.