My "official" title is "freelance hi-tech marketing copy writer." Try fitting that into an introduction, let alone a business card. But spitting it out isn't the hardest part about telling people what I do. Luckily, almost anyone who actually needs my services knows exactly what I'm talking about when I use my full title, but for the uninitiated the explanation is a bit longer.
Let’s start out real simple; a copy writer (or copywriter – as it is sometimes spelled) writes copy for all sorts of things, from cereal boxes to TV ad scripts and a whole lot of stuff in between. Usually they get a set of guidelines from or conduct an interview with a client and then make the information sound polished, interesting and grammatically perfect. Many of them work full-time for a marketing or advertising agency.
A marketing copywriter is more of a specialist; this person writes things like sales collateral, web copy, case studies and other specific tools you might use to market to your potential customers. This person might be found working as part of the marketing department at a larger corporation - or the only "marketing" person at a smaller business.
A marketing copy writer does more than just create polished copy based on your guidelines, he should be able to help guide what you are communicating by asking the right questions (or using your existing creative brief or messaging guidelines) and using fundamental marketing principles to craft persuasive copy that fits in perfectly with your marketing objectives.
If someone is billing himself as a marketing copywriter, he should have a degree in marketing or several years of experience writing copy for marketing collateral (or both).
A hi-tech marketing copy writer takes that specialization one step further, leveraging deep experience working in hi-tech industries to deliver polished marketing copy about hi-tech or other hard-to-understand products. A high tech marketing copy writer is primarily a translator - using a broad knowledge of technology to ask the right questions and turn “geek speak” into customer-friendly marketing collateral.
In my experience, hi-tech marketing copy writers tend to be freelancers because our expertise is so specialized. If someone inside a tech company is writing the white papers, it's more likely to be a tech writer or an engineer - not always the best combination, but one often dicatated by budgetary concerns.
If you work in a hi-tech industry is it necessary to hire a hi-tech marketing copy writer for your marketing collateral? Not necessarily – a talented marketing copy writer can get the job done. But you might be surprised to learn that a hi-tech marketing writer often charges in the same ballpark as her less specialized cousins.
And working with someone well-versed in technology, who is comfortable dragging saleable product benefits out of engineers, can lead to a better end product with less hand-holding and teeth-gnashing along the way. And that’s worth spending the extra time to find the right person for the job.
Anyone out there have a catchier job title than mine? Feel free to share!
About the author: Kate Headen Waddell is a strategic hi-tech copywriter specializing in web copy, white papers, case studies, solution briefs and other B2B marketing tools. You can visit her website at www.smartb2bmarcom.com.