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“A Dynamic Title Will Attract Your Targeted Audience”

Editor’s note : The following blog by Scott Deuty might be a great interest for any of you as engineers. I never thought in my entire career that I would become an editor/tech writer, but engineering takes us sometimes on unexpected journeys and turns, so one day you may be interested in tech writing either as a part-time freelancer (how I started) or a full-time tech writer or editor or both like me—-I absolutely love my audience, EDN and what I am bringing to my readers. So continue reading even if you have no inkling of being a tech writer/editor and keep an open mind and learn a little about communication—it can’t hurt!

My written material must attract the reader therefore I am obligated to produce a dynamic title as well as an attractive opening statement. That is why I didn’t open this article with, “As a technical writer that also produces marketing material…..”. That opening lacks the impact of hooking the reader when compared to my original opening, or so I thought. As it turns out, I was actually incorrect with that thought process. According to the Emotional Marketing Value tool that I use, the second statement actually ranked higher as shown in the bulleted summary.

  • As a technical writer that also produces marketing material 33.33%
  • My written material must attract the reader 28.57%

In the competitive world of power electronics which I chose as a career, cost rules and performance can offer a solution that meets the customer’s needs. However, the overwhelming amount of information that one must weed through on the internet can bury the best solution behind a well written technical article that entices the reader. As a blog writer for a venue as valued as Planet Analog as well as a technical writing business owner, I need to know the impact of the material I produce if I am to succeed. As I learn these ways, I like to share them with my audience. Writing the opening statement for this blog taught me some valuable lessons in terms of this blog in addition to the one I originally set out to write. I’ll get to the second blog in a bit. First, I’d like to present the results from researching various headlines for this blog.

The titles I evaluated had the following scores. Note how adding one word to the title improved the score by almost 30% (if you look at nine percentage points as being one third of 29%).

This evaluation tool provides a score as well as text as to the impact of the statement. Newbies rarely score above a 40%. Experienced people can score upwards of 80%. 100% is very difficult to achieve. I have hit a 75% for my weight loss book with the statement, “Yes, you can have the body you always wanted”. Of course I had my chest puffed out when I put in the titles for this blog and as you can see it wasn’t as easy the second time around. Things couldn’t get much worse, could they? Sure they could which brings us to the second part of this blog.

I started writing this blog in order to evaluate the best equation editor for you, my technical audience. That blog will have to wait for another time as I got side tracked when I was evaluating various titles. However, I did encounter some valuable data that I would like to share with you.

As technical writers we have mundane subjects to write about such as equation editors. Even then, there is a way to play on the words and spice them up. This goes for your presentation material as well as your written documents. The word play game works well for titles on PowerPoint slides.

Without further ado, here are the results from researching my blog on equation writing for technical documents.

Four balls would have walked the average individual however my ego kept me at the plate determined to get on base with a hit. As you can see, I struck out. The ego that I carried over from my earlier success was deflated like a Tom Brady football. I did however learn that no matter how mundane a technical topic is, there exists a way to word the title in an effective manner.

I’ll leave you with a final tip on effectively presenting your material. There were two ways to present my results. The first was in a table as shown with various colors weighting the results. The second is to use a graph (which Excel refers to as a chart). The graph below has the same results illustrated in a different manner. Comparing these two methods is, you guessed it, the subject of a third blog.

2 comments on ““A Dynamic Title Will Attract Your Targeted Audience”

  1. no_longer_an_engineer
    June 24, 2015

    As a writer and editor with an EE background, and a former editor with UBM, I certainly concur that one's articles and blog posts need titles that hook readers. I'd go even further and say that the ability to craft a good title is a good skill for engineers to have. A catchy subject line on e-mails and memos probably increases the chances that they'll be read and should raise the profile of the author.

    I'd be leery of using that emotional marketing value tool, though. I personally found the title that your tool scored the highest to be way too long and clunky. I'm reminded of what Bob Pease thought of analog circuit simulation tools and can imagine how he would title his column on this topic, “What's all this about emotional marketing value, anyway?”

    Dan Romanchik

  2. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    June 25, 2015

    Dan,

    Thanks for your feedback.  I appreciate your support as well as the point that you brought up.  

    I am in agreement with you about the marketing tool that I use.  It may be a tad bit abstract for engineers due to being based on emotional data which is much less reliable than actual measured data.  Engineers believe what they measure.  I knew this when I wrote the blog however I didn't raise the possibility of the tool's accuracy being questionable.  As it was, the blog was getting fragmented into several subjects as I wrote; namely content flow and focusing on equation editors.  Now that we have opened this subject, I will address some of the things I have encountered.  Mostly these are observations.  I'm not pushing right or wrong.  I encourage responses so that we can provide the best information to our audience as they seek to improve on their writing skills.

    One of the most successful mentors I ever had was the Intel marketer who won the automotive microprocessor business from Motorola.  He had about 10 mil in Intel stock.  I would say that is successful.  He told me a simple phrase, “The data talks”.  However, the analog icon Jim Williams also said, “You won't see this with an oscilloscope.  You need a true RMS meter in order to observe it.”  This brings us to a crucial question as to how much today's software driven, digitizing oscilloscopes are masking the real data.  It's the subject of a separate blog that would be interesting to address.  The key point here is, data is not always what it seems to be as you cautioned us about in your response.  I believe the emotional value tool relies heavily on statistics and somewhat on opinion.  Furthermore, you can see in the article tables how it struggled to present a technical topic with a high ranking.  I believe that is an acquired talent which brings us to the next subject of your response, Bob Pease.

    I still picture Bob Pease with one hand across his chest and another raised high with a middle finger salute in response to a dumb question asked by a marketer in a conference panelist discussion.  Bob had no problem expressing his opinion.  He was not arrogant.  He was confident.  The difference is the ability to deliver which Bob did.  Like you, his columns stick in my mind.  I wish he was around and still writing.  He sure was a character.  I like looking at his videos on youtube where he explains circuits.  I also have a signed copy of his book which I think was titled, “Accidents Happen”. 

    As I write these blogs, there is a delicate balance between the marketer in me and the skeptical engineer that knows he is speaking to the industry's best.  I often think about what Bob Pease, Ridley, or Middlebrook would think of my writing.  In the end I seek to perhaps provide valuable leads to information and save my audience time.  With that being said, marketing has as its goal the desire to polish a product to the point that it sells.  We can be engineers all we want however the product must sell or there's no funding for the paycheck if it doesn't.  If I can sell a product or tune one more engineer into Planet Analog, I've accomplished another of my goals to keep this fine privilege of writing for the industry's best venue.  I take the attitude that I am better than no one with one exception; I am better than the person I was yesterday.  In order for me to improve in this manner, feedback is important be it negative or positive.  Keep it coming.

    Scott

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