All brands face mounting pressure to deliver a steady flow of meaningful content to establish web presences, no matter how technical or nuanced the industry. Social accounts must be refreshed to give followers a reason to return, websites need new articles to maintain search visibility and resources must be built out with enough collateral to give visitors a showroom experience even if they never make it to the offline storefront.
It can be unrealistic for marketers to tackle all of these tasks on their own. About half of B2C and B2B brands turn to content marketing companies that have both the resources to tackle high-volumes of creative output and the marketing know-how necessary to win business results.
But how can marketers be sure writers will understand their brands enough to craft authentic website content, especially if they work in a niche field? In some verticals – like tech – it might seem like a risk to let someone outside the company create branded content.
I sat down with Nick Kakolowski, one of the writers on Brafton’s Technology team, who demonstrates exactly how editorial prowess can be blended with advanced understanding of technology fields. Nick shared his views on why brands can trust content writers who aren’t in-house to bring valuable perspective to their content marketing.
A little background on Nick – he studied English and journalism, but his knowledge of consumer technologies stems from an early love of video games. This ultimately spurred him to build his own computer and proved to be a gateway for his interest in the field at large.
Nick told us how he gets tech writing right:
Q: What’s the hardest part of technical writing with the constant emergence of new features and products?
I actually think the speed of the industry is one of the nice things about technology writing. It moves so fast that it’s not a stagnant industry. When searching for key issues, I start sorting through backdated information. Keeping up with the news that’s been coming out in the days, weeks, etc., helps me see the bigger conversation taking place.
It’s part of a natural process – becoming involved with an industry over time. By getting completely immersed in it, the larger picture becomes clear and it’s easier keep up with how fast things are changing from multiple angles.
Q: How do you nail the tone for different tech audiences’ familiarities and needs?
When I’m first writing for a new site, or speaking to a new audience, I start by looking at highly focused industry blogs and immersing myself in a client’s pre-existing branded content.
“Formulate a language with pieces from both, using terminology and phraseology that crosses the bounds between what’s industry standard and promotional specific.”
Once I pick up on the depth and tone of industry conversations within a specific community, I can formulate a language with pieces from both, using terminology and phraseology that crosses the bounds between what’s industry standard and promotional specific to the site’s editorial objectives.
Learning the terms is the most important thing in tech writing. Many of the business sites I write for aren’t always speaking to consumer audiences – I’m often trying to reach C-level tech execs and professionals with high-end IP certifications. The first step is to get through the language barrier, use the terminology they use on a daily basis. If my articles don’t use the full vocabulary of the industry, the writing won’t reach them.
It can take some back and forth to understand what resonates with a specific audience and how to find that information. For marketers who are relying on outsourced tech writers, it’s helpful to bring the ongoing conversation back to the brands. The best situation is when I can collaborate with clients, working as a writer with an in-house expert or specialist who doesn’t write. A productive two-way conversation helps me understand the tone and language.
Q: Is there any key to immersing yourself in industry conversations to help you better understand niche fields?
When getting started with clients, I like to know what’s going on in the industry around their specific offerings. That way, I can take broad information and apply it that to the marketing collateral produced for that client.
“I spend time reading up on insights that aren’t necessarily going to lead directly to posts for my clients … to grasp field-specific concepts that build subject matter expertise.”
What I’ve found helpful working in Brafton’s newsroom is that I spend time reading up on insights that aren’t necessarily going to lead directly to posts for my clients. If I see an interesting piece of research or headline, I keep reading even if that article isn’t quite on target. It broadens my ability to grasp field-specific concepts that build subject matter expertise.
There are times when it’s also extremely helpful that I sit in on client’s business demos or review internal resources for companies I work with. I can then take that core information and apply the broader points to the technical concepts most important for them. This helps bring high-brow trends and insights down to an accessible level that engages the reader that’s most interested in my client and vice versa.
Q: Do you have any advice for niche brands working with an external writer?
“When it comes to feedback, detail is always best.”
When it comes to feedback, detail is always best. Broad language leaves room for interpretation. We understand it’s not personal if clients don’t like the tone of articles and we need straightforward feedback to maintain really high standards of journalistic integrity in our news content.
Q: Thanks Nick! Finally, do you have any superstitions about or tricks for writing?
No superstitions, but I pace. When I need to figure out how to approach a story, I pace my desk to formulate ideas about the right angle for an article.
Marketing in a niche industry? Tell us in the comments what you find challenging about outsourcing your content.