3 Simple Truths About Communication For Developers

Claire Heginbotham
June 1, 2022
3 mins
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As a copywriter, I don't niche, instead I specialize in a certain type of founder. A founder obsessed (and knowledgeable) about innovation achieved through technology.

This founder has some experience in coding or software dev and tends to collect a team of like-minded people around them. And if there’s product-market fit, this approach is usually enough to get your first customers.

But then it’s time to start optimizing. And that’s where I come in. Here are three rapid-fire truths I've learned over the years that developers need to know about to start optimizing your website copy, in-person sales, and product marketing

#1 Your customers don’t understand dev-speak

I know it’s obvious, but it’s such an easy trap to fall into. Internally you develop a feature, name it something obvious (to you), and run with it. That feature name can create a HUGE disconnect between your startup and your customers that A) wastes your precious time by forcing you into ever deeper conversions about how it works and B) Turns away people (who you could actually help) because they don’t understand what you do.

For example, I had a client with two customer bases; newsletter creators and big-name advertisers. We were talking about “programmatic ads” to both types of customers, but it turns out that big advertisers knew programmatic ads as “targeted ads.” We changed our language in those sales calls, and suddenly people just understood. Revenue went up, and we had an overflow of people wanting to buy our targeted ad spots.

Make sure you know how your customers describe your product and its function. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that they use the same language as you. Take a look at how you’ve named all your product features and make sure it’s relevant.

#2 You’re talking about AI… not what the AI does

Every single bit of customer research that I’ve ever done indicates showing off your AI, and your AI alone is a terrible idea.

That’s because AI is the worst kind of buzzword — it means absolutely nothing.

Instead of talking about how long your team spent training a super sophisticated AI, talk about **what the customer gets out of it. **You can frame this in two main ways:

  • The benefit or value they get out of it
  • The end-outcome they receive

So let’s take it back to your website and how you’d write a heading for a feature. If your AI has been trained to recognize the documents and classify them, the value proposition might be something like “Instantly classify your documents.” The outcome might be a little more conceptual and related to their initial pain or problem being resolved. For example, if paper chaos is a big pain point for them, an outcome might be “Streamline your paperwork forever.”

AI is just how you get a specific function done. Along with what code-base you use, it doesn’t belong in your headlines.

#3 What you like or dislike is irrelevant when you’re pitching your product

This truth is probably the bitterest pill to swallow. Because you _like _what you’ve built. You’re attached to the way you do things. But — if you want to optimize your conversions, you need to get comfortable with using the words your customers use. NOT the words you like.

I had to face this hard truth myself.

People kept posting job listings saying they wanted someone to “punch up my copy.” Or they complained on forums that their copy lacked “punch.”

As a conversion copywriter, “punchy” copy is **_not _**what I do. It’s not like I have a magical crystal ball that suddenly outputs punchy copy capable of striking a chord in the heart of every soul that reads it.

No, I spend hours conducting customer research, analyzing the results, and pulling together hundreds of Voice of Customer quotes. Next, I hack away at the copy, writing at least 20 headline options for a single page, transforming the raw research into a powerful website. Then, all the decision-making psychology and the editing go in…

…“Punching up copy” almost felt beneath my level. Like a phrase that some creative writer would use.

But I swallowed that bitter pill, took my own advice, and started using those exact words when advertising and selling to new clients.

I’ve never been so in demand.

All the micro-steps you take to get a customer to realize value doesn’t matter UNLESS you’ve first assured them that they’re in the right place. That yes — you can deliver what they want (and also what they need).

In summary, make sure you listen to how people actually explain their needs. In demos, ask, “what was it that brought you to book this demo” and figure out how people describe their pain, motivation, or dream state. It’ll give you the ultimate advantage over your competition.

Learn more about customer communication

It’s tricky to shift from build mode into selling mode. Especially when you’re juggling a million other hats at the beginning. If you want to hear more from me, sign up for my newsletter to be notified when I release new content. If you’d like to work together, email me at claire@copyisland.com.

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Claire Heginbotham
Copywriter at Copy Island