Saturday, August 6, 2011

All In Good Order to Help the Planet and Save You Money While Reflecting Heat from the Sun

I have a large backlog of unfinished environment and green building related blog posts--maybe one day I'll get to them.  Some of my writing "mo-jo" has been strained lately by an ongoing work project to ovehaul our company website.

The thing is, I don't have a degree in marketing.  I have one in physics.  So I'm not trusted to write technical information in a way a layman could hope to understand, thus we hired a content writer, who interviewed us and took the pages of "this is what this term means" and "use this picture" documents that I created to write up some web-copy.

The result was a monstrosity, a veritable Frankenstein of cobbled-together copy.

As it turns out, you can either talk about what something means directly--or you can do elaborate workarounds to avoid talking about it in order to avoid scaring your audience away from the frightening technical nature of it. But! If you use the technical words anyway and yet use them incorrectly because they are just words someone fed you and you don't know yourself know what they mean, then you are writing utter nonesense.

So now it's my job to go back and re-write the stuff we originally hired the copy-writer to write for us. 

The trouble I have with the general marketing philosophy we have taken of "speak to the lowest possibly education level" is that, although it is really important to explain in non-engineering terms what the advantage of your product or service is, all too often this is not done well. Instead we get deliberately vague language that people can tell is not the whole truth, with a healthy dose of the overused claim that "Science Says So!" all linked unsatisfactorily to vague, repetitive, and frankly untrustworthy promises to "save you money."  And I have long held that tackling even technical things head on is preferable even for non-technical people, if you can find simple examples that make sense to daily life, rather than just skipping technicality all-together because that shit scares people off. The goal is to not contribute to the idea that it's scary, but make it less scary by making even a tiny piece of it genuinely accessible.  Or maybe I just suffer under the illusion that people generally are smarter than they actually are, which I think is at least more, I dunno, helpful, than assuming that people generally are dumber than they are in reality.

But what do I know?  I'm a scientist, not a marketing professional.

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