Scientists and engineers often make terrific products. But, just as often, they're too close to the underlying technology to see it objectively, and they think at a remote distance from the mindset of customers who could use or apply that same technology.
For marketers, technologically sophisticated products and services pose a special problem—translating the technical talk that engineers love into the plain talk customers need and will act upon.
From the depths of my experience with bits, bytes, high-voltage devices and semi-toxic chemical compounds, I offer a few suggestions that will help you turn good science into compelling marketing copy.
Start with the results, not with the science. Sure, your chief competitive distinction may have its roots in new scientific breakthroughs. But before potential buyers share the science with their R&D teams, they need to understand something more fundamental first: How does your product or service help their businesses? What's in it for the bottom line?
Techno-babble: ChromaPlastics offers advanced chromapolymer formulations that resist UV deterioration and environmental degradation.
Compelling copy: With ChromaPlastics, you can create lightweight plastic consumer products—in just about any color—that won't fade, crack or peel outdoors.
Speak the language of the reader. You might have a PhD in electrical engineering, but the buyer you need to reach probably doesn't know how the toaster works. Save the important technical considerations for an appendix, data sheet, or dedicated Web pages that the ordinary buyer can show his or her technology people. The average Joe needs ordinary language.
Techno-babble: Our technology deploys a series of choke/resistor microcircuits to eliminate spurious high-frequency signals.
Compelling copy: We filter out the static for crystal-clear sound on your cellular phones.
"Paint" a picture of the opportunity. While technicians appreciate analysis, the way to a buyer's heart (and checkbook) is through the imagination. Instead of merely detailing the features of your product or service, create a vivid demonstration of how they can be applied to the customer's advantage.
Techno-babble: The RoadWarrior laptop features impact-resistant case enclosing the motherboard and display panel within shock absorbing construction components.
Compelling copy: Drop this laptop off a table? Not a problem. We've built the RoadWarrior to take a fall from as high as five feet—and to keep on working, guaranteed!
Climb down from the tower. For reasons that escape me, some people believe that a distant, elevated rhetoric conveys a more "professional" image. They refuse to use the first and second person ("I" and "you"), insist on passive language ("bacteria are destroyed by the disinfectant" rather than "the disinfectant kills bacteria"), and prefer vague abstractions ("quality," "excellence") to concrete specifics, such as "withstands hurricane-force 150 MPH winds."
Don't make the same mistake. Speak directly to your audience in active language that embraces concrete, physical details.
Techno-babble: Superior outcomes are achieved by Blowhard Technologies' commitment to advanced hydro-resistant surface treatment applications.
Compelling copy: Keep your basement dry. Painting your foundation walls with Blowhard SolidSeal gives your property a waterproof seal that's five times more durable than latex, polyurethane or tar.
Show it in action. The more complex your product, the greater the need for context. Make it easier for customers to understand your offer by using real-life stories, such as case studies, that reveal why your product is necessary and how it solves a problem or achieves an ambition.
Techno-babble: MultiScape is the proactive solution for property managers responsible for diverse outdoor environments...
Compelling copy: Exurb Partners manages commercial properties in various climates, including dry deserts, wet coastal flood zones, and frost-exposed northern forests. By contracting with MultiScape, they've been able to create consistent, attractive landscapes—complete with pedestrian pathways and water features—regardless of location...
Use pictures. As much as it pains this copywriter to say it, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Humans are visual creatures. When you have the opportunity, reveal the benefits of your product or service with photographs, illustrations, charts, and graphs.
For the writer, the tricky part is creating effective captions; instead of just labeling the content of the visual (which most people are capable of seeing for themselves), good marketers use the caption to link the visual to an important selling point.
Techno-babble caption: The Thermocannon Model XJ6.
Compelling caption: The Thermocannon XJ6's rapid-firing heating elements remove three times more old paint in half the time of ordinary heat guns.
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