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Kilka pytań do - część 30: Tech writing spotyka marketing

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W dzisiejszym wywiadzie mam przyjemność rozmawiać z Oksaną Pervenonok, która ma na swoim koncie bogate doświadczenie jako technical writer. Przykład jej kariery pokazuje, że praca w dokumentacji technicznej może być znakomitym wstępem do innych specjalizacji, takich jak content writing i marketing.

Kto wie, może ktoś z czytelników zainspiruje się, by postawić podobne kroki? Nawet jeśli planujesz długoterminowy rejs po morzach technical writingu to i tak zapewniam Cię, że znajdziesz tu wiele przydatnych i trafnych obserwacji o pracy nad treściami. Oksanę znam z LinkedIn - warto śledzić jej profil, bo publikuje tam wartościowe wpisy na temat product marketingu, storytellingu i kreatywności.

About Oksana

1. Hi Oksana, I'm glad you accepted my invitation. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Let us know your current interests, projects, hobbies, and whatever's on your mind right now.

Thank you for getting in touch, Andrzej! I'm truly honored to have the opportunity to share my insights and expertise with your readers.

So, my name is Oksana, and many of my friends and colleagues call me Oksi. I am a seasoned content professional who is passionate about crafting experiences with words (and visual storytelling). I am currently open to new opportunities. With over 9 years of hands-on experience in technical writing, content marketing, product marketing, and UX writing, I am excited about translating complex tech solutions into easily understandable text.

My hobbies encompass a wide range of activities, including crafting handmade items, creating digital illustrations, and I have recently started learning how to play the piano.

Technical Writing

2. What's your educational background?

I hold a Master's degree in Translation Studies and Contrastive Linguistics, with a focus on English as my major and German as my secondary language. My lifelong passion for the English language led me down a career path I hadn't even realized was possible. I entered the field of IT while still a student, and, truth be told, it was a mere coincidence.

3. How did you get into technical writing?

Initially, I began my career as a Copywriter in the marketing department, but I soon found that I struggled to cope with the demands of the IT field due to my lack of prior experience. As a result, I began to explore new opportunities within the company. Fortunately, I came across an internship opening within the Technical Communication Office department, which I eagerly accepted.

4. What kinds of documentation you produced, and what did you specialize in?

I 've had the pleasure of being involved in a diverse range of content assets creation, spanning from highly technical tasks such as: crafting API guides, release notes, and developer's documentation, to the creation and customization of online help systems from scratch.

Additionally, I've taken on tasks like producing how-to guides and promotional videos, editing and creating presentations, crafting one pagers and success stories with a strong tech focus. I introduced a creative approach to developing animated videos and subsequently shared my expertise with the entire department.

This initiative elevated the demand for this format internally, bringing a new dimension to the kind of requests we began to receive. As you can see, the realm of technical writing encompasses a broad spectrum of content outputs, and it also leaves some room for creativity.

5. What were the your common tools?

The standard toolset I had the opportunity to work with included: Adobe Technical Communication Suite, MadCap Flare, Microsoft tools, Snagit, Adobe Captivate, Adobe Illustrator, and others.

The Transition

6. When did you realize that content writing and product marketing management might be right up your alley?

After 5 years of successfully climbing the career ladder and establishing myself as an expert in the technical writing domain, I began to experience a sense of monotony.

While I have a genuine passion for delving deep into the technical intricacies of how products operate. There were times when developers teased me for being able to read the entire code without having to ask them about specific code snippets or comments.

It was during this time that I realized my creative side was not being fully expressed. I was eager to explore new opportunities for personal and professional growth in different domains, and I considered marketing to be a perfect fit.

7. What was your plan for the transition?

My colleagues in the Technical Communication Office were truly exceptional, and I not only acquired a wealth of knowledge but also formed lasting friendships.

Through this experience, I developed a deep understanding of the software development process, how products operate, and their creation, which has proven invaluable in my collaboration with subject matter experts.

I also really loved this amazing corporate culture. This led me to the decision to remain within the company and return to the marketing department as a Service Marketing Lead.

8. What skills were applicable to the new domain and what new skills you had to acquire?

I want to emphasize that the technical writing skills I acquired through my time in the Technical Communication Office at SoftServe are of exceptionally high quality. I am profoundly grateful to this department for the numerous growth and learning opportunities it provided.

It was like wearing multiple hats, and this experience allowed me to grow from various professional perspectives. I seized every chance to expand my skill set, and I would like to highlight some of the significant areas:

  • Project Management: Working within software development teams gave me a deep understanding of Agile processes. I led technical writing projects, mentored junior writers, and consistently met deadlines, which proved invaluable in the dynamic marketing landscape with shifting priorities, evolving requirements, and seamless cross-team collaboration.

  • Communicating with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): Crafting marketing assets that convey technical information effectively requires the ability to ask concise questions, grasp product intricacies, and understand their business value across diverse applications.

    Thanks to my extensive involvement in software development projects and interactions with product managers, technical leads, and architects, I've gained experience in presenting information for both general and technically savvy audiences.

  • Writing in technical and marketing contexts has its unique challenges. In technical writing, it requires concise and precise wording, adherence to style guides, and simple sentence construction. Marketing writing shares similarities, including brevity, data-backed information, and adherence to style guides for a consistent organizational voice, tone, and terminology. Simplicity and clarity are essential in both.

However, the key difference lies in the diverse array of assets at your disposal in marketing. You have the freedom to choose the most fitting format, whether it's an interactive infographic, an ebook, a white paper, or a demonstration page, allowing ample room for creative expression.

Basic concepts of Content Writing and Product Marketing Management

9. To those not familiar with the marketing component, can you outline the aims and activities of a product marketing manager?

I can't think of a better definition than the one provided by Yasmeen Turayhi, a Product Marketing Executive, Award-Winning Film Writer, and author of Breaking into Product Marketing. In her book, she offers the following definition:

"The primary goal of product marketing is to deliver the right product to the target customer at the right time to ensure customer adoption."

Sound familiar? Well, here's the definition of a technical writer:

"A technical writer is a user's advocate responsible for delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time."

Both definitions share the common goal of delivering value. However, the core objectives of a product marketing manager encompass market validation, positioning, packaging, go-to-market strategies, and overall marketing strategy.

10. Do you need degrees or study to become a product marketer?

I vividly recall a conversation I had with one of the CMOs when I re-entered the world of marketing. We discussed how to become a professional marketer, and I admitted:

"I still have a lot to learn."

He responded:

"In my 20 years of journey, I'm still learning. It's a continuous and exciting path that constantly offers new perspectives. Experience is the lifelong degree you'll attain."

This is how I perceive it.

11. How do you call a member of your profession?

I want to emphasize the crucial role of a product marketing manager as a key liaison connecting various teams within an organization. They act as a bridge between the sales, product development, and marketing teams. This position necessitates a deep understanding of the product, enabling effective communication of its value, features, and benefits to both internal and external stakeholders.

From my personal experience, I initially held the role of a Service Marketing Lead, where I focused on promoting the company's services. Later, I transitioned to the role of Content Marketing Manager, responsible for content creation.

12. What kind of mindset do you need to succeed in this field?

I believe the key is to maintain a flexible and novice's mindset. Embracing flexibility fosters creative ideas and "thinking outside the box." It's essential to step back, observe your own product, and experience it as a user to grasp its value and benefits fully.

Consistently adopting a novice's mindset provides a fresh, unattached perspective. It allows you to ask simple questions others might miss and generate innovative ideas.

13. How does content writing differ from technical writing?

The first thing that immediately caught my attention was the distinction between content writing, which emphasizes creativity and storytelling, and technical writing, which prioritizes clarity and precision.

As mentioned earlier, technical writing adheres to strict style guides and terminology, while content writing offers more flexibility in language and tone to align with brand messaging.

Content writing often incorporates emotional appeal and customer-centric language, whereas technical writing relies on facts, data, and an objective tone.

The third aspect is that the primary goal of content writing is to drive sales and conversions, while technical writing focuses on educating and informing readers about complex topics or processes.

However, I believe that high-quality content writing should integrate effective technical writing principles. This is because the primary objective should always be to educate customers about how to use a product and address their business needs. I refer to this as the convergence of the technical writing and marketing writing worlds.

Work of a marketing content writer

14. What is the toolset of a product marketer?

Compared to the extensive toolkit of a technical writer, product marketers typically use common tools like Microsoft Office Suite or Google Docs (depending on the company).

They may also employ creative software like Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, when needed. Some use mind mapping software for visual idea notes, while in some cases, a simple pen and notepad would be enough, too.

The key is to capture ideas and maintain a continuous flow of content creation and marketing strategy development.

15. How is your work organized?

As we explore the intriguing parallels between the technical writing and content writing domains, I was delighted to discover that the marketing department I had previously collaborated with utilized a work management platform and held weekly stand-up meetings. It felt like stumbling upon an agile treasure in the marketing world!

These stand-up meetings not only facilitated discussions about our tasks and challenges but also ignited a creative journey.

We delved deep into the content creation process by engaging in SME interviews, conducting peer reviews, and participating in internal brainstorming sessions, all while working as a team committed to delivering high-quality marketing assets.

16. Do you work alone, or do you feel a part of the team?

Just as in technical writing, cross-collaboration is paramount. I have experience collaborating with technical stakeholders, various marketing departments, sales teams, and essentially every department within a company whenever additional support and cooperation were needed for specific projects.

17. Personally, what do you find most rewarding about this domain?

My most favorite aspect is the boundless room for creativity, where we can breathe life into fresh ideas, experiment fearlessly, embrace mistakes as lessons, make improvements, and begin anew.

Creative writing offers the perfect environment for continuous learning and professional growth, enabling us to evolve into more experienced storytellers.

What makes it even more fascinating is the chance to inspire and captivate audiences with the power of words, making a lasting impact through our narratives and bringing value in understanding how a service or a product works.

18. Who should step into this field?

When your creative ideas flow, your passion for writing becomes unmistakable. It's a feeling you can't miss — the joy of turning thoughts into words on a page. It's whenever you find yourself in a state of flow, and you might not notice it at first.

There may be other hints - you may be creative in drawing, in knitting, in capturing photos. There's this creative part of you that you definitely know about. This is the magic of creativity, where your imagination comes to life.

I strongly believe that this might be a great hint for you to consider becoming a content writer or a product marketer.

19. How's your profession affected by artificial intelligence based tools?

It's unavoidable; AI is already here, and we might not fully comprehend its reach. I strongly believe AI holds great potential, but we must exercise wisdom in its application.

While it can be valuable for idea generation and perhaps editing, entrusting it entirely, such as content creation, is a misstep. Relying solely on AI risks diluting your brand, erasing your distinctiveness, and making you indistinguishable from the rest.

20. What are the possible further career options?

I believe that if you have a true passion for something, you're likely to stay in the same field. You might progress to higher positions, or you might find it less important, and that's entirely your choice.

Currently, I don't see myself becoming a CMO or a higher-level manager, mainly due to my current personality and values. However, that could change over time, as we all naturally evolve. Change is a constant in life.


21. How do maintain a healthy work-life balance?

From my own work experience, I've encountered numerous stressful situations that eventually took a toll on my health.

One instance, in particular, involved my inability to voice my concerns and my constant fear of saying no. This led to throat constrictions and chronic sore throats, resulting in frequent visits to a medical clinic. Only after addressing this issue did my health improve.

I firmly believe in the profound connection between the mind and the body, and that this connection is essential.

To effectively combat burnout, it's important to cleanse every aspect of your energy. With that in mind, I highly recommend delving into the pages of this book by Neha Sangwan: Powered by Me: from Burned Out to Fully Charged at Word and in Life. Doctor Neha Sangwan explains how to rejuvenate the five levels of energy: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. The toolkit provided is truly remarkable, and I personally incorporate its principles into my daily life.


22. What do you think, how your specialization going to evolve?

I strongly believe that the convergence of these two worlds, technical writing and marketing writing, represents the future of the industry, in my humble opinion. They are interdependent, and incorporating the best practices from both realms can set your business apart. You might wonder, what do I mean by that?

As mentioned earlier, technical writers, acting as user advocates who provide crucial information, add significant value when describing the product. They focus on technical aspects and provide a comprehensive product explanation.

This can be further enhanced by product marketers who analyze customers' business needs and transform product information into solutions and value creators.

In my LinkedIn article, I explore various scenarios for promoting a product using technical information about the products. This collaboration is a remarkable synergy, which is why I refer to it as the convergence of worlds.

The burning question

23. If you were to choose a prehistoric creature as an avatar for your professional persona, what would it be?

Certainly! A well-known prehistoric creature that could symbolize a creative and storytelling professional that comes to my mind would be... the Tyrannosaurus! It is an iconic and powerful dinosaur, much like how compelling storytelling and creative content can have a strong impact.

Thank you Oksana for your time and energy devoted to this interview.

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