Resources on How Technical Writers Can Support Sales

An article of mine just got published in the Society for Technical Communication’s Intercom magazine: “Content Strategy in Action: How Documentation Can Enable Sales.” Unfortunately it’s paywalled at the moment; I promise to re-post it to this blog when the exclusive publishing rights period is over. In the meantime, I thought I’d list the articles I used in my research, since I believe they’d be helpful to technical writers who are looking into this question.

  • Aschwanden, Bernard. “Content is Content: Marketing and Tech Comm are Converging.” Aschwanden comments on the convergence of marketing and technical writing, and gives some good examples of how these two fields can work together to boost sales and improve the customer experience.
  • Hughes, Mike. “Moving from Information Transfer to Knowledge Creation: A New Value Proposition for Technical Communicators.” Technical Communication 49.3 (2002): 275-285. This article is paywalled too, but it is an essential argument: technical writers don’t just translate knowledge, they create and manage it, and keep it flowing through organizations. That is one of the reasons that the tech comm team I’m a part of at Oracle calls itself the ‘Knowledge Management’ team.
  • Johnson, Tom. “Value arguments for docs and tech comm.” A must-read series of blog posts on the unique value that technical writers bring to the world. Tom does a much better and more thorough job of analyzing the subject than my short Intercom article ever could. The difference with my article is that it gives a more specific and concrete glimpse (for example, I included a sample knowledge map, outlines, and screenshot) into the content strategy principles which Tom covers (though Tom does use many specific examples of his own).
  • Petersen, Emily January. “Articulating Value Amid Persistent Misconceptions About Technical and Professional Communication in the Workplace.” Technical Communication 64.3 (2017): 210-222. Also paywalled, but an enlightening report on enduring perceptions of the tech comm field. I took a relevant example from Petersen’s article on the direct connection between the docs that technical writers produce, and how those docs are used by sales teams when talking with clients.
  • Redish, Janice (Ginny). “Adding Value as a Professional Technical Communicator.” Technical Communication 50.4 (1995): 26-39. A sort of flagship article on the value of technical writers, written way back in the ’90s. Redish is a force in the field, and her systematic articulation of why tech writers matter is still basically relevant almost 25 years later.
  • Sheridan, Rebecca. “Cultivating Content: Designing Wiki Solutions That Scale.” This is from my director, whose research I report on at length in my Intercom article. Among other things she comments on the knowledge map that we used to identify the information needed by our internal sales audiences. Without her expertise I wouldn’t have been able to write the article that I wrote.

One final note: there is an article in the Intercom issue that is open access: “Ensuring the Success of Your Content Strategy through Effective Change Management,” by Ann Rockley, who’s something of a tech comm star. Give it a read!

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