Here is a Pop Quiz for anyone responsible for marketing a technical product:
1- Do you know which content type is consumed most often to evaluate a technology purchase?
2- Do you know which content type is most influential?
3- If you knew that the answer to both of these questions is one and the same, what would change in your content creation process? What about your resource allocation?
It is true, technical datasheets are considered the top content type ranked by consumption and influence in the purchasing process.
You would think that companies who have technical data to market would leave them at the purview of marketing experts. In reality, datasheets are generally the responsibility of engineers and R&D directors, who don’t always possess the skills necessary to write, design, and deliver them.
Technical data is vital to describing and promoting products, but time is money, and poorly written datasheets aren’t worth the ROI.
Perhaps it would behoove us to rename our technical datasheets into technical marketing datasheets. Because as it stands now, with the technical team controlling their creation, it either means a lot of wasted time for them to create something that doesn’t leverage its potential influence; or, it means that a much larger team of technical writers and designers get tasked to describe products they don’t know nearly as well as they should—either way, it is a waste. A waste of resources and worse, a waste of opportunity.
How Marketers Can Reclaim the Opportunity
Marketers of technical products need a way to present the information in a clear, concise, and easy-to-replicate formula. While the details can come from the technical team, the presentation needs to be owned by marketers. Technical datasheets that follow these best practices not only get read, but get results.
1. Keep Your Datasheets Short
There’s no point in providing great technical data if nobody reads it. Purchasers and product suppliers receive a lot of requests on a daily basis and generally won’t invest a lot of time in reading every detail of a long and cumbersome data sheet. Unless they are already familiar with your product, or in a particularly generous mood, they will likely skim the main points, which is where you should focus your efforts.
2. Lead with Key Features and Differentiators
Datasheets should be easy to read, but they also need to be informative. In addition to a brief product description, lead with 3-4 key features that represent your product’s primary differentiators. Use statistics or graphs but stay focused on what makes your product different, not everything it does. Save that for the backside, when describing your specs in greater detail.
3. Divide Features, Benefits, and Technical Data Into Clearly Defined Sections
The Gestalt Law of Proximity states that objects or shapes that are close to one another appear to form groups. This is not only a physical response to white space but an emotional one. Draw your audience in with clearly labeled sections that address their primary concerns, including key differentiators, product features, and technical specifications.
4. Don’t Drown Your Product Spec Sheets With Text and Visual Clutter
When considering the best way to divide your datasheet into individual sections, don’t be afraid to give your content a little room to breathe. The whole point of creating spec sheets for tech products is to describe your product and attract new leads. Take advantage of compelling headers and sub headers, bullet points, and bold text, and don’t go overboard with images.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
-Leonardo da Vinci
Imagine what Da Vinci’s data sheet for his flying machine would have looked like and compare that with the data sheets your engineers create.
According to the DataSheet Archive, there are over 500 million datasheets currently available, each one taking up to a week to write, format, and publish.
As you learned from our pop quiz, datasheets are heavily consumed and incredibly influential. If you had to invest resources in creating them, they would likely still prove ROI-positive. The fact that you can now make da Vinciesque technical datasheets without investing valuable resources can make your marketing ROI take off like a flying machine!
Next Steps for Making Effective Technical Datasheets
You can reduce the time it takes to create an effective datasheet to under an hour. Don’t waste money on formatting and reformatting datasheets to accommodate evolving products, policies, and brand messaging. Sign up for a free trial and find out how easy it can be to communicate your product specs to the right audience with preformatted templates.