Monday, January 28, 2013

Write Better and Sell More Software

Whether you're writing your website's sales presentation, a posting for your blog, a press release about your new software, or a whitepaper for your content library, you need to sell your ideas if you want to sell your software. In his book "How to Write like an Expert about Anything," Hank Nuwer delivers a lot of insights that can help business people in general, and software developers in particular, write better sales messages.

Every sentence in your write-up has to pull its weight, Nuwer tells us. You can't defend any sentence by saying that the grammar and syntax are correct. Every word has to advance your argument, and tell your story well. You have to look at every word, and ask if it's advancing the message. Your job is to keep readers reading.

"The job of a writer is to layer detail upon detail," Nuwer explains. Nuwer describes his writing style when composing short articles (1200 to 1500 words) as "terse and direct and information-packed". You have to get the reader engaged immediately, and there's no sense in writing something wordy or obtuse. The headline and the lead paragraph have to get readers excited about reading more.

Another technique that Nuwer suggests for starting your write-up is to set a scene. And then follow it with another scene that is in such contrast with the first one, that the reader will want to know more about what you're describing.

Think of your article as a series of building blocks. Don't be afraid to intersperse "promise" building blocks which keep readers interested by promising to tell them something fascinating in the coming paragraphs.

Software developers should always write a powerful ending. Nuwer suggests a quotation from an industry giant. I recommend a call to action. microISVs should treat their readers like prospects, and tell them the best reason for them to buy your software, download the trial version, sign up for your newsletter, subscribe to your blog's RSS feed, or do whatever it is that you want them to do.

Another approach, Nuwer suggests, is to end with humor. Still another way to end your article is to move out of character as the article's writer, and end on a personal note. Or close the article with a prediction.

Always include a couple of sidebars, Nuwer tells us. I think sidebars work great on software developers' web pages, too. And read-out boxes (which are sidebars in the middle of a page instead of off to the side).

The more you know about writing techniques, the more powerful your software sales presentations will be. Add a volume or two on writing to your bookshelf every year, and you'll sell more software applications.

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