Anyone whos ever tried marketing IT products
or services knows that its a specialist field.
Your customers in the IT industry have very unique and
specific requirements, and that means you do too. In
order to write compelling copy around your offering,
you need a copywriter with a solid understanding of
the IT world someone whos not afraid to
call themselves an IT Copywriter.
So how do you know when youve found an IT copywriter?
And more importantly how do you know what
to expect from them? The following 10 tips will give
you a good understanding of the qualities to look for
the things that make a copywriter an IT copywriter.
1) IT background
Perhaps the most beneficial quality in an IT copywriter
is a solid background of some sort in the IT industry.
If your copywriter shares an understanding of your domain,
youll spend far less time explaining the benefits
of your product or service. Remember the last time you
watched someone glaze over as you waxed lyrical about
the wonders of your latest technology? You dont
want that to happen when youre briefing your copywriter.
More importantly, you dont want that happening
when your potential customers read your copy!
2) Technical writing experience
Good technical writers are experienced in bridging
knowledge gaps. This means they have to understand the
technology, but they also have to be able to talk about
it in the laypersons language. A copywriter with
technical writing experience in the IT industry is likely
to have domain knowledge and an ability to hit the ground
running. Theyll be quick on the uptake, so theyll
understand your product or service more rapidly than
Of course, not every technical writer is a IT copywriter.
You need to be sure they can write compelling copy
not just dry instruction manuals. Take a look at their
samples and testimonials before making a decision.
The other important consideration especially
if youre after a website copywriter is,
do they have online writing experience? Writing for
an online medium is entirely different to writing for
print. Readers have different requirements and objectives,
and reading conditions are very different. Many technical
writers have written online help, so they should know
how to cater to these differences. To be sure, ask them
to recommend a maximum page length or word count per
page. The correct answer should include some comment
on the trade-off between the problems of scrolling and
the need for a high keyword count for SEO. Ask them
whether they prefer long sentences or short (and hope
to hear short).
3) Further Education
IT products and services are generally very complex
in themselves. Whats more, the needs of the end-customer
are also very complex and unique. This means theres
normally quite a steep learning curve for anyone new.
Ask your IT copywriter if they have tertiary qualifications.
Its not essential, and by itself
its no guarantee of quality copy, but its
generally a good indicator of someone whos been
trained in the art of learning (i.e. researching, information
filtering and modelling, knowledge retention, etc.).
The flip-side of that coin is to be wary of people
who are technically qualified. Dont discount them
on sight (many technical people have made great IT copywriters);
just remember that technically trained people have a
tendency to take a lot of things for granted when speaking
to lay-people. Your IT copywriter needs to be able to
understand the technology and its complexities, but
still relate to the issues of the non-technical customer.
4) Management Experience
Anyone with management experience at any level
has dealt with decision makers. They may even
have been a decision maker themself. In any form of
promotion, you need to appeal to the decision maker.
Your IT copywriter needs to develop an understanding
of the needs, influences, pressures, problems, work
environment, and constraints of your typical decision
maker(s). The more understanding your IT copywriter
brings to the relationship, the less time youll
spend schooling them.
5) Marketing Experience
Actual marketing experience is a big plus. It brings
with it a broader understanding of strategic marketing
and the realities of working with a range of challenging
people and evolving products and services. Look for
an IT copywriter with corporate experience as a marketing
manager or marketing coordinator, or someone who runs
a copywriting business with a heavy marketing focus.
Anyone can call themselves an IT copywriter; few have
the client testimonials to prove it. Testimonials are
a great way to validate your IT copywriters claims.
Ask to see some and read them carefully. Dont
just look at the company name and logo. You need to
determine if the clients words back up the copywriters
claims. And make sure the testimonial relates to the
type of work youre commissioning (or something
with similar requirements).
7) IT Samples
The proof is in the pudding. ALWAYS ask potential IT
copywriters to send you samples of their work. And
as with testimonials dont be fooled by
flashy packaging, big names, and recognisable logos.
Read the words. Are they relevant to your project? Do
they convey a clear understanding of the subject matter?
Do they convey benefits or just features? Are they written
in a style that you find easy to read, yet compelling?
And after youve read the words, double-check exactly
how much input the copywriter had in their writing.
Not all copy is written from scratch. Some copywriters
work in teams, and others do more editing than writing.
Make sure you get a clear understanding of your IT copywriters
abilities and experience before commissioning them.
8) Understand Benefits
Your customers arent interested in what you do;
theyre interested in what you can do FOR THEM.
In other words, theyre interested in what benefits
your product or service will deliver. How will it make
their day easier, more enjoyable, less stressful, safer,
or more profitable? Identifying benefits is one of the
hardest tasks in any advertising project. In fact, many
people rely on their copywriter to help them uncover
the most compelling benefits. Does your IT copywriter
truly understand the benefits youre promoting?
9) Contributes value
A good IT copywriter should have solid professional
experience. They should bring value to your marketing
push which goes far beyond the written word. Strategy,
tactics, imagery, contacts, anecdotes, corporate identity
Your IT copywriter must bring more to the table than
grammar and punctuation. Expect them to make suggestions,
not simply take notes and say Yes.
10) Plus all the normal copywriter requirements
Of course, your IT copywriter must be able to satisfy
all the normal copywriter requirements. Ask for a contract
of works to be completed, a time estimate, a plan of
attack, a CV, and SEO copy skills (if search engine
presence is important to you). For more information
about what to expect from a normal copywriter, see http://www.divinewrite.com/websitecopywriter.htm.
Traditionally, copywriters have been seen as a small
cog in the big advertising machine. As a result, most
copywriters have risen through the ranks of generic
advertising agencies. These days, however, more and
more people are sidestepping the agency and going direct
to the copywriter. This approach gives them consistency
across all of their written collateral, more compelling
and engaging copy, and more responsive service. Within
the industry, this change means that copywriters arent
confined to ad agencies, and are able to specialise.
The end result to you? While finding a good IT copywriter
with an IT background is still a big challenge, its
certainly becoming easier. You simply need to take the
time to ask the right questions.
About the Author
* Glenn Murray is an advertising copywriter and heads copywriting studio Divine Write. He can be contacted on Sydney +612 4334 6222 or at email@example.com. Visit http://www.divinewrite.com for further details or more FREE articles.