5 EASY Writing Tips For Techies
Helped our great network master guru write a post about Atlantic BT’s upcoming maintenance window (post is at the bottom of the piece). Loved helping my very smart friend with something – writing – he finds as intimidating as servers are to me. Here are five quick and easy tips to use the next time someone asks you (or your techies) to do the dreaded thing – write a blog post.
Techie Writing Tip 1: Be Specific
Strange to give a “be specific” tip to such detailed people? FIRE HOSE is how techies think so details aren’t a problem right? The first draft of today’s post was very detailed about things only two people on planet earth know (lol). The post was not specific about what everyone needs to know such as 9 pm Eastern Standard Time (pm and EST were missing). To be fair I learned the need for details like “pm” and “EST” from great editors like Joanna Wu (not naturally a highly DETAIL oriented guy so match me with a Joanna and life is good).
Techie Writing Tip 2: Be VISUAL, Use Made To Stick Analogies
If you are a techie who needs to write more, and we all do, read the Heath brothers Made To Stick book. One of the best marketing books ever written, Made To Stick is a great writing book too. The Heath brothers explain how new ideas are scary not STICKY. Sticky is good, you want sticky.
Writing about a maintenance window isn’t sticky it’s boring. Black Friday is sticky. So retell “maintenance window” story as a Black Friday story. Use KNOWN things to introduce unknown things. Use made to stick analogies to make boring maintenance windows become exciting Black Friday sales protection.
“Black Friday” is when retailers move from red ink (loss) to black ink (profit) thanks to day after Thanksgiving sales. Remember Black Friday is an example that works for this post. In the summer use 4th of July or sand and beach weather or flipflop days.
See how writing visually makes content STICKY? FlipFlop days doesn’t need War and Peace-like explanation. It’s sticky and visual. Write sticky and visual or visual and sticky.
Techie Writing Tip #3: Space Around Words = Understandable
Techies don’t see space the same as the rest of us. Techies look at a train wreck of DATA and slowly organize it into meaning. Yeah not so much for the rest of us (lol).
The more VISUAL you present information the easier it is to understand.
I edited run together and so hard to understand but critical information and tabled it. Tables create SPACE around content, around the ideas.
Techie Writing Tip #4: Tell A Story
Bet this techie writing tip is hardest to sell. What is the “story” of a maintenance window happening on 11.23.13? Here are story “hooks” that jumped up for me :
- Date is less than a week before Black Friday.
- Our maintenance window creates customer sales benefit.
- My techie friend IMed me, “We are just unplugging and old switch and plugging in a new one”. GREAT one line story so I used it.
- Find way to make SCARY things comforting and needed.
- Email marketing remains IMPORTANT to ecommerce merchants and these changes make ours better (so great story).
- Our techies stay up all night doing weird techie stuff and tweeting progress. I upped that bet by including a hashtag and inviting people INTO the “techies get it” moment.
- Don’t just tell a story, tell a SOCIAL story.
- Ask if your audience has similar experience, use hashtags to create impromptu community.
Techie Writing Tip #5: Write To THEIR Needs Not YOURS
If storytelling is hard for techies, this tip about having empathy for OTHERS is harder (lol). Techies THINK about complex things all the time. They must disappear a little to think their way through problems where one wrong connection = every website is down.
The problem with living in your head so much is you have little or NO empathy for me and my needs. In this case ME = customers and their needs trump all. Customers have egos. They want to feel in control (especially if they pay MONEY for that feeling lol).
The bottom line for Atlantic BT’s 11.23.13 Saturday 9 pm EST to 1 AM Sunday the 24th maintenance window is our customers websites will be down for about five minutes and they can’t create or distribute emails for a 4 hour window late on a Saturday night.
No Biggie since Sunday AM emails don’t convert anyway (trust me).
Most ecommerce merchants have holiday marketing plans in place by now, so a 4 hour window a week before Black Friday isn’t a big deal. UNLESS you present the need for a maintenance window in a YOU HAVE NO CHOICE voice.
Customers ALWAYS have choices .
Act like General Patton to Type A online merchants and they will eat you alive just to prove they can (trust me). Yeah that approach doesn’t hunt, or fly or drive. Better to constantly emphasize the upgrade’s benefit and importance IN CUSTOMER TERMS. Use words like QUICK FAST EASY to create comfort, empathy and a tip of the hat to who is in control (customer always CUSTOMER).
Bottom line is techie concentration is what makes them brilliant. We love our techies too since God knows we don’t want to be in a server room reading manuals all night (life way too short for that).
Use these simple tips so your writing creates connection and compliance you (or your techies) want. General rule of thumb is keep people who pay you money for things CLOSE. If the cost of maintaining a profitable relationship is learning a few new writing skills that is a great investment.
PS. Funny story is I published the post below after changing the categorization to avoid SEO penalties. I put in a great and Google friendly description, did the tags and published the post. It even got 2 tweets (now that is some BAD ASS writing lol). Then my techie friend removed the post thus destroying all my tagging work. LOL, you got to love techies :).
Saturday November 23 Short, Quick, Important, Server Maintenance
|Atlantic BT Quarterly Server Maintenance
|What Are We Doing?||Server Maintenance|
|When Are We Doing It?||Saturday Night, November 23|
|Starts When?||9 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST)|
|Ends When?||Sunday November 24 by 2 AM (EST)|
|Services Impacted?||Everything for 2 – 3 minutes. email marketing for longer|
|Questions / Issues Contact||support(at)Atlanticbt.com, 919.518.0670 select option 8|
Before Black Friday …
To assure Atlantic BT customers are ready for a great Black Friday holiday this year, the day after Thanksgiving falls on 11.29 this year, we will do some quick quarterly maintenance on Saturday Night November 23rd starting at 9 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).
The most critical maintenance will only take a few minutes as we unplug a network cable from one switch and plug it into the new switch. We will upgrade email too and our email upgrade will take longer. Our email upgrade will take 2 – 3 hours. Best not to distribute an email Saturday night 11.23.
Our Server Maintenance and Software Upgrade On 11.23 Includes:
- Deploy new network switches and upgrade mail servers – expect 2 – 3 minutes of downtown for all services (websites and email).
- New friendlier “User Interface” for our Level2 Webmail Server so our email marketing customers can create emails faster and easier.
If this important, quick maintenance window disrupts your 2013 holiday email marketing contact support(at)Atlanticbt.com so we can help create an new plan. We will be at our RAL1 datacenter Tweeting progress via @ABTSupport *DE make this a link*. Please join us the Saturday night 11.23 starting at 9:00 pm EST. Use hashtag #ABTsMaint to join our conversation.
On behalf of everyone at Atlantic BT, we wish you a great holiday season.
Atlantic BT Support Team
@ABTSupport *link this too*