Tickling the Funny Bone of the IT Geek
IT is serious business–ask any geek!!
Most IT people do not have a sense of humor that they are aware of. Like Tommy Lee Jones’ line in “Men in Black” when he told Beatrice that the FBI does not have a sense of humor. But they do! And you can tap into that sense of humor in your content to make your material more effective and more memorable.
Marketing and IT
Along with getting blamed for everything that can go wrong inside the companies they work for, IT people get smothered in an avalanche of marketing assaults that come in from all sides. If it can be mailed, Twittered, flown, sailed, emailed, blogged or stuffed in a mailbox, the deluge of marketing materials aimed at the IT department never ends.
There is a reason for this. Unlike the market for marshmallow coated Frisbees, the IT market is huge. Total global IT spend in 2017 was 3.5 Trillion and counting, with 2018 hitting 3.6 trillion or more. That is enough to run a few good sized countries or start a War with the Evil Empire, and huge markets create huge marketing efforts.
IT covers everything from hardware to software to anything in between. Your car was probably made by a robot that was designed in part by another robot and there probably is not a single aspect of your life that is not touched by IT in some way. Even your pets are on the IT wagon. Just Google “pet software” and you will be amazed at the results, from food to grooming to medical care. Your pet groomer is probably publishing a page they created with self-publishing software on their latest styling tricks.
Within that infinite variety of venues lie infinite opportunities for marketing writers who know how to reach IT professionals and successfully promote the products and services they use.
If You Can Make Darth Vader Laugh…
…he will probably buy the new-Improved Death Star V4!
No, all IT people are not Darth Vaders (Just the ones I worked with), and they do have a sense of humor. If you are going to weave humor into a piece aimed at IT keep it relevant to the overall topic, and remember that this is a very smart audience.
That doesn’t mean they won’t laugh at ” Why couldn’t the computer get on the bus? Because he didn’t have the two bits for a ticket,” it just means that it will not work in a marketing piece selling million dollar servers.
Saying that the new Dell server is so compact you won’t need a server farm the size of Minnesota to house them is more along the line of what might work, just keep to the point.
The amount of marketing material that is aimed at IT is unbelievable. In 2014 Dell spent 413 million on advertising in the US alone. That is just Dell and that is just the USA. Multiply that by a hundred to cover the major players in hardware and software and you get an idea of the size of this market and that is just what they spend on advertising.
If you can weave a glint of humor into the endless flow of facts, figures and statistics that dominate most IT marketing materials, you have a better chance at holding your reader’s attention long enough to get your message across. If you didn’t notice, Vader had a relatively short attention span.
Who Are All These People?
So what is a Geek anyway? The definition has changed over the years, and rather than a gawky teen with the ink-stained pocket protector and inch thick glasses, Wikipedia defines a Geek as an ” Expert” or ” Enthusiast” with an intellectual pursuit. This is important to keep in mind when dealing with IT people. They tend to be very smart and are generally overwhelmed with work. Right off that tells you that your copy needs to be relevant to their needs and generally free of fluff.
That does not mean that humor cannot be a welcome addition to the usually fact-stuffed material that crosses their desk every day. Everybody deserves a millisecond off once in a while. IT covers a very broad range of people, from programmers and developers to department managers and all the way up to the CIO. The education range can be from a high school diploma with a little tech school added on, all the way up to MBAs and Doctorate level upper management. No matter what their educational or professional level, they will all appreciate and remember something that will put a smile on their face.
The other side of the IT market is the business owner who is everything from the CEO to the shipping clerk. This is the business owner who needs a new computer system or software to manage his or her customer base. They might not be Geeks in the traditional sense, but they could be part of your target market, and if they are in the market for IT equipment, they are in the Geek brigade. This is a huge market segment, and they are the ones who need the most information in the most compact packages possible because they do not have legions of IT people to fill in the gaps for them.
No Place For a Hard Sell
“Buy This Right Now” hard sell lines are not going to make it with this crowd. This is an analytical group that needs a lot of information before they make any decisions.
That puts the writer in the position of having to be an expert just to get in the game, but not having a degree in computer science does not mean you cannot write effective content for the IT audience. There is a wealth of research information literally at your fingertips. Most of what you need to write about any IT topic is on the internet and it is just a matter of you doing some diligent research.
As for keeping the humorous aspect of your piece alive, that will take some real creative effort. I Googled “computer jokes and humor” and the results were abysmal. The key to good humor is to make it relevant and not trivial.
“I went shopping for new PCs for my department, got a great price, but when I looked the chips were all made by Frito Lay.” That was about the level of humor I found, and really, that is not going to make it any more than the ” Did you Hear The One About”–unless it is relevant to the focus of your article.
“How Many Geeks Does it Take to Install a Light Bulb?”
How big is the light bulb? That is really the key to understanding the IT mentality because they always have questions and they need precise answers. Writing effective content is explaining how big the bulb is because that is what they need to know before deciding how many Geeks it will take.
The other thing to keep in mind is that IT is not just computers anymore. It is manufacturing, robotics, logistics and everything else involved in running a business in today’s world. IT is into everything and even Lovely Rita Meter Maid is being replaced by a high tech meter you refill with an app, or she will send you an automated ticket.
So go for it. Getting an IT Geek to smile is easy. Just ask them what the best color for a Turnkey Hyper-Converged VMware Virtualization appliance is and you will have them rolling in the aisles.
Douglas A‘s career spans over 45 years and covers a wide range of experience including copywriting, sales promotion writing, and account management. Areas of expertise include technical, manufacturing, medical, automotive, and retail sales promotion. He has done copywriting and design for electronics, automotive, medical and manufacturing clients as well a creating corporate training materials for an SAP implementation , telecommunications, and wireless services. Work experience includes project management for IT and manufacturing, as well as creating corporate wireless strategy and policy for a multinational corporation.