Welcome to our two-part series on one of the most powerful personas in technology today: the tech marketer. Creating tech marketing content for numerous tech brands, we’ve met many tech marketers and have discovered something fascinating: most of them don’t realize they are tech marketers.
As one client put it,
“I’m not exactly a tech marketer. More of an editorial person overseeing content creation and distribution.”
And this is a person responsible for content oversight, creation, and distribution for a successful large tech enterprise! He’s no exception. Because tech marketers usually aren’t trained as such, and sometimes fall into the role, they might not realize that’s exactly what they are. Which is a shame, because folks like him are absolutely critical to the future of software and cloud technology.
The tech marketer persona can be difficult to pin down, in part because it’s more about a skillset than about a title or formal job description. So rather than focus on any specific title, this two-part series will explore what it takes to make a great tech marketer.
In this first post, we’ll define the role and look at some of the responsibilities of the tech marketer. Then, in the second, we’ll delve into the skillset and characteristics you need to succeed as a tech marketer. Finally, we’ll explore the exciting career possibilities within this vital field.
And just to keep it real, we’ll share actual interviews with a couple of tech marketers we’ve met along the way.
Why Are Tech Marketers So Important?
With smart proficient tech audiences, in more and more tech brands the demand for experienced tech marketers in all positions (e.g., VP marketing, Growth Director) has grown—and will continue to grow. Why?
- They will form the message and the go-to-market strategy for the business.
- They plan and create compelling assets to drive product adoption and sales.
- They develop strategic, research- and data-driven strategies to reach the most relevant tech markets.
- They engage technical audiences by providing valuable insights to hands-on technical experts.
- They keep up with tech industry trends and developments to keep the organization’s messaging relevant.
- They help build fans for the brand, fostering loyalty and positive customer experiences.
Tech marketers are the bridge between technology and users, translating complex technical information to make new products, platforms, and concepts more accessible. And this can make or break not only for a startup, but also for the most established tech enterprise.
What Is a Tech Marketer?
As I’ve said before here, tech marketing refers more to a skillset and a range of capabilities, rather than a specific persona. That’s why so many people don’t even know that they are tech marketers.
What that means, in practice, is that tech marketers can be found in a variety of positions within the organization; in fact, it’s a skillset that all top marketing personas with any tech organization should possess. Their title might be something like:
- VP of marketing
- VP of product marketing
- Technical marketing manager
- Tech marketing writer
- Developer relations (DevRel)
- Demand generation manager
- Tech evangelist
More important than the actual job title is that the individual understands the mindset of a tech practitioner; brings the right combination of skills, knowledge, and experience; and is setting goals and fulfilling the responsibilities of a tech marketer.
Let’s first look at the goals and responsibilities of a tech marketer. In part two of this series, we’ll dive deeper into the skills, knowledge, and experience you need in this field.
What Does a Tech Marketer Do?
Simply put, a technical marketer is someone responsible for overseeing all aspects of tech content marketing, including strategy, creation, and distribution of technical content—not just written content but also labs, blogs, videos, and webinars—along with analytics to drive continuous improvement. In most organizations, these responsibilities won’t fall on just one person—despite the pervasive myth that all it takes is one good tech writer. However, how they are divided will vary from organization to organization.
This content is considered technical content (as compared with general marketing content) because it positions product features as a direct and compelling response to detailed practitioner pain points; it also conveys other technical information to communicate proficiency and authenticity.
Included within this general description, however, are a number of other responsibilities they must fulfill along the way:
- Conduct research into products, target audiences, and the competitive landscape
- Collaborate with other teams within the organization to fully understand the product, the client, and the strategic vision going forward
- Determine (or participate in determining) product positioning, messaging frameworks, G2M, and pricing strategies
- Plan campaigns and editorial calendars; create sales enablement collaterals
- Measure performance and contribute to lead generation and product awareness
- Plan (or contribute to planning) a regular editorial schedule of newly released content
Of course, that’s all very abstract. To help us make this concrete for you, we asked a few of our clients for details on their actual activities as tech marketers. Here’s how one marketer responded:
Meet a Tech Marketer: Arun
IOD: What’s your daily routine?
Arun: Meet with product managers and a range of internal stakeholders to plan content goals; prioritize tasks related to upcoming campaigns; identify opportunities; follow up with content writers on pending items; detect and resolve anomalies; liaise with teams, including content, design, marketing, sales; and more.
IOD: What are your 3 main KPIs?
IOD: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Arun: Achieving consistent content quality; that’s probably an ongoing battle for anyone in this field. That and availability of SMEs, because they’re often so busy and their time is claimed by so many stakeholders.
IOD: How did you become a tech marketer?
Arun: I started out as a journalist and embraced an opportunity to pivot. I always enjoyed and appreciated technology, so it felt like a natural shift for me.
IOD: What’s one thing you love about your job?
Arun: Definitely the satisfaction of seeing the results of our labor and showing it to our company’s leadership.
Getting in the Back Door
The main factor driving the need and demand for great tech marketers is the rise of bottom-up growth. These days, the most important person to reach with messages about an app or platform is what we call the practitioner: the DevOps engineer, the IT gal, or the security pro team lead who is ultimately going to be using the product.
They’re the ones you need to convince that your solution will save them time and energy, mesh with their existing workflow, and not add to the alert fatigue and app burden that so many tech folks are dealing with these days.
Sure, creating messaging for the C-suite is still important since they’re ultimately the ones writing the checks, but given the many challenges in reaching them—standing out in a very crowded playing field—it’s usually easier to get into an organization through the “backdoor” of the practitioner. Once they and their team are using your solution and love it, the rest will follow.
Tech marketers are the only ones who can get you in that back door to reach the practitioner folks. They’ll help place your solution and brand front of mind through creative, finely targeted messages you can deliver to that practitioner audience through search, email, and social in the form of white papers, blogs, explainer videos, product demos, and more.
The Tech Marketer as a Knowledge Hub
These days, we’re hearing a lot about breaking down silos. The technical marketer is actually one of the people who can help make that happen—benefiting the entire organization as a result.
The tech marketer can only succeed if they’re working as part of a team with a common goal, and if they receive the support they need to produce consistent, high-quality deep tech content. That means the tech marketer needs to be in constant contact, aligning their goals, strategies, and activities with R&D, product, and marketing teams.
In essence, the tech marketer—far from being an afterthought, as many businesses view marketing in general—becomes a hub, bringing the entire organization together.
The benefits from this, in turn, can resonate as knowledge sharing throughout the entire organization.
For example, not only is the tech marketer gifted at making technical aspects of the product accessible to current and prospective users, communicating complex technical values in a comprehensible manner; they’re also able to share important aspects of users’ needs and experiences with technical teams.
Anna Turkot, Head of Content & Communications at Atera, came to tech from a more traditional marketing background. She spoke at a recent event about the challenges of reaching an audience of IT admins. Yet she succeeded in attracting over 3,000 attendees to the very first event she organized! Anna makes a point of becoming best friends with product owners and marketers, and talking to sales and product teams to understand the pain points of her audience so she can share content that works.
So when the tech marketer participates in engineering sprint meetings, with their extensive audience and market research and understanding, they can actually help influence the future development of the product; for instance, by advocating for features that users are requesting or that are present in competing products.
That’s what makes the tech marketer, at the end of the day, one of the most influential personas in the world of technology today.
If all of this sounds like it’s right up your alley, stick around for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll look at what skills it takes to make it as a tech marketer as well as industry trends. Discover the gateway to a rewarding career showcasing the products and technologies you love and helping make the lives of developers, ops, IT, and security pros easier.