Books for software engineers and managers

Persuasive Copywriting

Cut Through the Noise and Communicate With  Impact

by Andy Maslen

Categories:
Product Manager,
Designer,
Tech Recruiter

What is the goal in feelings and  behaviors?

Metrics and goals are mostly interchangeable in my mind. What number am I trying to drive?

In copywriting a better starting point is to think about reader feeling and behavior. Ask yourself two sequential questions:

  1. How does the customer feel about the problem right now?
  2. How do I want them to feel after reading my copy?

That’s your goal – to make them feel something.

Find and emotional connection with customer, not your  product

Hiring managers – we know you’re excited about your company. That’s why you work there.

When drafting job descriptions, it’s easy but lazy to start with a company description.

Instead, start connecting emotionally with the customer – in the case of technical recruiting that means candidates. By making that connection, you open the door for the candidate to hear about your company.

Candidate personas are a great place to start, as suggested in Technical Recruiting and Hiring and I make extensive use of them in writing job descriptions, interviewing candidates, and making offers.

It’s 3am. What is waking you  up?

Sometimes we buy aspirationally. But we also buy to alleviate anxiety.

Asking what wakes someone up at 3am is useful in a variety of contexts – facilitating 1:1s with your team members, writing job descriptions, and addressing user/customer needs all come to mind.

Never write “if”

Maslen means never write a statement like, “If this job description interests you, hit Apply today”. You might think that sentence is great because it has a call to action. Wrong.

“If” suggests that even you’re not convinced it’s a good idea.

Excluding “if” doesn’t come naturally to me. It feels invasive. Who am I to tell the person what to do?!

Well, sometimes good, effective copy requires discomfort for the writer. Better to discomfort the writer than signal ambiguity for the reader.

Read your copy out  loud

Sentences flow, both internally and contextually with surrounding sentences. The best way to understand sentence flow is to read your copy out loud.

Reading out loud has changed my writing. Now I inject shorter sentences. I eliminate unnecessary words. I practice the rule of three (like right here!).

Use the "so what"  test

When you’re listing benefits and solutions, imagine someone replying, “So what?”

If you can easily picture them saying “so what” then you’ve got a problem. You’re describing a feature, not a benefit.

Persuasive Copywriting

How strongly do I recommend Persuasive Copywriting?
8 / 10

Copywriting is an underrated skill among product managers, designers, tech recruiters, and engineers. Basically everyone.

Just look at your average software engineer job description to see that while we’re capable writers – following correct spelling and grammar guidelines – we’re terrible at selling.

I think a small dose of copywriting skills would drastically improve most everyone’s ability to communicate effectively.