Product marketing, writing skills and copywriting are important to understand, getting your message across is a great skill to have.
In this interesting interview Eric Moeller and I discuss product marketing and copywriting and creative writing. I have known Eric online for about 6 years and met up with him in Exeter a few times and discussed marketing and branding and all those exciting business topics that make us tick!
He shares a lot of value in this episode and some great resources to help you improve your copywriting and writing skills in general!
Find Eric Moeller here https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericmoeller/
WARNING — AI Transcriptions Below May Cause Grammatically Correct People Serious Stress and Lack of Sleep!
Nathaniel Schooler 0:09
Well, it’s really great that you managed to make the time to join me. And I am very interested in learning a bit about product marketing, because I know that’s your specialty. And obviously writing as well, because I know you’ve been doing a lot of writing over the years. So to anyone that doesn’t know, this is Eric Moeller. I’m probably pronouncing that the English way. But you work over at Sage, right, and you are head of marketing for, for some piece of tech that I know nothing about at all. So I’ll kind of let you let you carry on really, and just explain a little bit about that, if you don’t mind.
Eric Moeller 1:00
Sure. First of all, thanks for having me here Nat. And happy to join you and have a conversation about this. Yeah, so I’ve been at Sage for just over two years that I’m responsible for a specific product line. So it’s called Sage 200 Cloud, it’s a product that is sold in 15 plus countries around the world.
The way that product marketing is set up at Sage is that there actually are global leaders for all the different product lines, so it’s like having a CEO overlooking all the different facets of marketing for the individual products. Okay, so I work with product marketers, and all the different regions where my product is sold. And really the role of Product Marketing at Sage, the way I would say, it’s the way that’s defined is, like I said, sort of the CEO of the different facets of the marketing.
So you’re looking at everything from the different campaigns that we’re developing at a global level, and how those can be used at the regional level, the pricing, monitoring the performance of the product, how it’s selling now, how we expect thing this, you know, sales to pick up over the next 12 to 24 months, then I’ll see and looking further into the future in terms of what is it from a market requirements perspective? What is it that the market needs? Going to the future is that the same product? Is it something different? You know, where do we need to go from a strategy perspective? So it’s actually quite an exciting role. There’s so many different things that you get involved with, it can also be tiring, because you’re thinking, Oh, man, there’s so many different balls in the air and so many different things to keep track of. But really, that’s that is a challenge, but it’s also the exciting facet of the role as well.
Nathaniel Schooler 2:28
Right, right. So how many languages? Do you sort of responsible for that, Eric? Is it a lot of different ones? Or is it just English or what?
Eric Moeller 2:38
So the product is localized into a number of different markets. And again, for people that don’t have a lot of experience with software localization. Localization refers to both the languages that the product is translated into, as well as whatever the local requirements are. So I just wanted to highlight that for people listening, that is not just the language, it’s both what might be unique. So for example, when you think about compliance requirements, different governmental requirements, that would vary by country, and obviously, that’s an element of localization that some countries need this. Other countries may not need that, as well. So yeah, there are markets that we have to consider when we’re localizing the product.
Nathaniel Schooler 3:19
Right. Right. So so you would say that it’s, it’s completely customer led, like it’s customer driven completely. Like the you must be collecting feedback from people you must be talking with government organizations, plus, the country managers, because you’ve got teams in each one of those countries to manage the marketing for that product right. Is that fair to say?
Eric Moeller 3:40
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the thing is there, as you highlighted, there are many different stakeholders. I mean, as you said, everything from the customers in those markets, to the governmental organizations you work with, but even when you sell your product through a channel,
Nathaniel Schooler 3:53
What you were saying about the different stakeholders involved? I mean, it’s quite, it’s quite complicated job you have got there Eric.
Eric Moeller 4:00
It certainly is. Yeah. Well, I mean, as you, as you pointed out that there are many different stakeholders that we need to work with to understand exactly what the requirements in the marketplace are. So as you said, their customers, the different governmental organizations, and if you look at what’s happening in the UK, for example, with Brexit, we’re working very closely with different people amd HMRC to understand what the implications will be for businesses. These are things that affect businesses in the UK, but obviously, in other markets as well.
The other thing to highlight too, is we have an extensive partner network. So we sell a lot of our products indirectly through partner channel. And they’re also critical stakeholders in terms of future requirements, what they see as challenges, what they’d like to see from us in the future, other products they might want to see us introduced? So there’s a lot of different things to take into consideration.
Nathaniel Schooler 4:51
Yeah, it’s very complicated. So if you were to start with a new product, let’s just imagine you’ve got a new product that you’re launching? Yeah.
You would, you would start by working out exactly.
You know, the the brand wording around that product. So you would work out:- What it does first of all. Which is obviously, really important, but then you would work out:- Why it’s different? And or better than anything else out there.
What gives you authority and credibility, which is that it is part of Sage, and Sage already has that credibility and authority and trust factor, right? And then you would, then you would take all those words, and then you would you would put them into some sort of imagery is that fair to say?
Eric Moeller 5:41
Well, they the way that it works at Sage is that if we were looking at moving into a new product area, I think some of the considerations are, first of all, what is the opportunity? Where is the white space in the market? What is an underserved market that we should be considering so I think it really starts with an outside view first, in terms of what what is it that we’re looking to target?
Once we have a sense of where that opportunity resides, where there’s customer pain, where customers are looking to pay to solve a problem? I think really where our process goes from there is should we build something ourselves? Should we perhaps acquire something? So those are a couple of different considerations? From there, and there’s a lot there’s certainly a lot that goes into the research. Part of it is, working with third party groups, to get some some data in terms of what is the market opportunity?
We might actually do some primary research of our own to get input from customers, you know, regarding the service solution they’d be looking for. We’ve talked to our partners, we talked to existing customers, there’s a lot of different stakeholders. But again, that’s really an outside in perspective, we’d start with the outside. And then from there, then we as you touched on as well, we’d also look at once we decided on approach to market, we would talk with those things such as, what would the the key differentiators be? What would the customer value proposition be? That sort of thing? So yeah, you certainly touched on some of the key things that we would do if moving into new product area.
Nathaniel Schooler 7:06
Right and then and then with with Product Marketing, you, you basically have to you still trying to communicate a message to all of the stakeholders, right, and the stakeholders include the end user, but they also include the reseller channel, and they include the other people who you work with. So it includes, internal communications as well. But also, each one of those countries, like you say, has different features, that you in essence, are led by the customer to create, and then you need to communicate with all of the regulatory organizations as well, right?
Eric Moeller 7:50
Absolutely. Yeah, you you’ve touched on a really important facet of this role in product marketing is that, selling is such an important part of what we do. And you’ve just, you’ve touched on some really important things there. Part of it is doing the internal selling. I’ve definitely worked in companies in the past where we’ve developed a product, but we haven’t done the internal selling to get the sales team, for example sold as to why this is a great opportunity, why customers will love it, why it’ll be something that’s easy for them to sell. So yeah, as you said, the internal selling is critical.
In our case, where we sell a lot of our products through resellers, you also pointed that out is that we need to successfully get them excited about it. Because you know, sales people will go where there’s the path of least resistance, they’re not looking for the most difficult thing to sell, they want to sell what’s going to be easy to sell. And I think that’s that sometimes gives you feedback in terms of whether you’ve taken a product to market in the correct way.
If it sells quickly and easily, then clearly you’ve got things right. If you’re facing resistance and challenges, then perhaps there’s something not quite right. The question then becomes what exactly is it? Is it the pricing? Have we not done enough to enable the sales team and the partner channel? And what is it exactly? Is there something perhaps missing from the product offering the customers are looking for? So I think you can get a lot of feedback. And you have to be constantly watching and listening to what what you’re hearing from your own sales people, the partners and ultimately from the market as well.
Nathaniel Schooler 9:25
Right, right. So is it fair to say that you go back to the old school of the four Ps of you know, product, price, place and promotion?
Eric Moeller 9:34
Definitely. I mean, when I was in Business School, there were only those four piece I think they’ve expanded to 8pm. Now, but I think maybe in 10 more years, they’ll be 16 piece, it’s hard to know what that’s going to go up to.
But I think the thing is, you know, the four Ps or whatever number of P’s people like to draw upon, I think they’re really just a reminder of the types of questions that you need to be asking yourself. And I think this is critical in any facet of business, but certainly in marketing, you need to be constantly questioning things. Why? Maybe we’ve done this way, what if we tried it that way? What might we expect? And what’s your hypothesis, and then actually tracking the results and seeing what’s working and what isn’t? The I think questioning and observing those really important skill, certainly as a product marketer.
Nathaniel Schooler 10:24
Yeah. It’s It’s funny how they just add on these these ridiculous sort of terms, like this hyperbole we are sort of lost in really?
Eric Moeller 10:32
Nathaniel Schooler 10:38
Okay, so we’ve kind of we’ve kind of touched on all the areas that you’re that you’re sort of involved with. So what does a typical day? All right, let’s say a typical week look like for you, Eric?
Eric Moeller 10:49
Yeah, I’m glad that you switch it from data week, because I think no one day is alike in this role. But I think, you know, from a week to week, month to month, quarter to quarter basis, the types of things that you’re looking at. I mean, it’s everything from looking at the the measurements. How successful are we so looking at your results, looking at what’s forecasted, those things are really important, because it’s really, you know, having your finger on the pulse of the business, what’s working and what isn’t.
So, numbers are a critical part of our role looking at that, and it’s looking at the numbers from many different perspectives, you know, everything from the annual recurring revenue to the price points in which additions to the product is selling better than others? Which vertical markets are we having the most success in? And how does that align to the campaign activity. So I think measurement is a critical part of our role. And truthfully, that is a factor on a day to day basis.
So a day doesn’t go by that you’re not either being asked those questions, or investigating something and try to understand something about the business more. So yeah, so numbers is a critical part of it. I think another part of it is also problem solving. There are problems in the in any business and you trying to figure out well, what what is the problem that’s first understand the scope of the problem, and then trying to look at what specifically is causing the problem. So I think that’s another both another critical skill, but also an activity that we’re involved with in a day to day, week to week, month to month basis.
Planning is another part of it, you can’t just live in the moment, because that’s one of the complexities of the role is. You have to balance so much time, you’re looking at the present moment, and what’s happening that business as well as where it’s going. So I think that’s another part of it is planning it other parts of the day to day activity or selling the vision, and that that came up earlier in this conversation when you’re talking about a go to market. But I think the thing is, when strategically the business is trying to move in a new direction, you might get a directive from the executives in the business saying, Hey, we want to move in this area, whatever it may be.
And then your job as one of the directors of product marketing is to actually look at what a we’re doing on the ground level, and each market to support that higher level objective. So part of it is really helping the sell the vision that’s come from the top, as well as to watch what’s happening and to help drive that change. Because if people aren’t bought in, they’re really going to do whatever it is that they want to do. And I think in a large global organization, that’s one of the big challenges is that not everything is controlled from the top, you have direction that comes down from the top. But a lot of decisions are actually drives in the individual markets. And I think what we try to do is we try to connect the overall strategy at the top from a global perspective, what’s happening the regions. And really how do those connect in line. So alignment to a larger organization is one of the biggest challenges. So you have to figure out who the stakeholders you need to consult who do you need to communicate with, where are the challenges in the business that you need to overcome. So selling I guess, is another part of the of the role as well. So those are some of the big one side I’d highlight.
Nathaniel Schooler 13:57
Yeah, with staying super all good. It must just be like, fundamental to this, because it’s so complicated, right?
Eric Moeller 14:04
Absolutely. Yeah. And I think I think your own personal systems evolve over time. Within sage, we use Microsoft Office. So everything is if you’ve used the more recent versions of office 365. Everything’s cloud based. So how do you actually collaborate with on documents? And how do you share those broadly? And how do you organize what you’re working on? We use Microsoft Teams, I don’t know if you’ve ever used that in the past. It’s similar to slack. So we got Microsoft Teams for chat and collaboration, that now actually also has video and audio capabilities. So it’s actually it’s really cool. It’s similar to Zoom and other tools you might have used where you can record, share those with colleagues, who can’t can’t make meetings. But yeah, organization is critical. I think you can never be complacent say yes “I’m sufficiently organized.” I think It’s like any skill, you want to just keep improving upon it taking advantage new tools. Just so you can optimize your your organization skills, and I operate with colleagues across different geographies and time zones. Definitelya real challenge.
Nathaniel Schooler 15:11
Yeah, so how many how many people do you actually communicate with?
Eric Moeller 15:20
That is a very good question. I don’t have a number at the at my fingertips. But basically, the rule that I have used to manage teams directly, whereas now it’s actually an individual contributor role. So that has changed in the time that I’ve been at Sage where I was a managing a team. And then going back to managing the business, I would say there’s kind of a an inner group of stakeholders and colleagues, you know, I guess you can have that inner core, or maybe it’s 30 plus people that sort of your inner core. And then when you think about the broader markets, sort of the broader stakeholder groups that one might work with, it could easily be in the hundreds of people. So there’s so many touch points. And it’s funny actually, tools like LinkedIn, even though it’s an external tool, those things can also be very effective for managing your network within a company as well, in terms of who are those contacts within a given market? If you say if there’s a colleague that you don’t work with that often or you’re trying to figure out who might that person be might just look up on LinkedIn, your company name for the geography and the role title and suddenly see other people that might you might want to connect with. It’s definitely a lot of complex in terms of the numbers of people you interact with.
Nathaniel Schooler 16:36
Yeah. I mean, especially if you’re doing if you’re doing third party channel, reseller channel kind of sales, like that’s like, you know, a job in itself. I mean, reseller marketing and stuff. So do you sort of do like joint marketing programs with with people if they want to help to sell your product and it’s one of their solutions that they’re selling? A bit like IBM?
Eric Moeller 17:02
Yeah, so I’m not directly involved with that side of the business. But to your point, there are there are different types of partners we have there are strategic partners, like you mentioned, large organizations, Microsoft would be an example of one of those four percentage, where we co market solutions in the in the marketplace. So that would be an example where we might do that sort of thing with our own reseller.
So smaller resellers smaller than Microsoft, we would actually have co marketing with them as well; we actual developed campaigns where they can leverage those and use those to to generate new opportunities. So, there’s a bunch of different things we do on that front. One other thing that you mentioned a moment ago, when you’re just talking about really managing the relationships with those partners, something that we do, which I’m sure a lot of other companies do, as well as that we have extra partner advisory, councils and committees. And these are opportunities to bring some of your larger partners together, and you’re more engaged with partners together to actually share information with them and to get feedback. So you might talk to them about things that you’re either considering on a product roadmap, or perhaps announce things that are that are actually coming in the roadmap. So you can talk about how easy it is to do business with, with your organization. So it’s really great. It’s like having a small focus group where you can actually, you know, trusted advisors, people who will not pull their punches, he will tell you exactly like it is, and give you a sense of what’s working well, and what some areas for improvement are. You know, and really, we need that sort of feedback in all different facets of our lives. But clearly, when you’re working with partners, you need to have that feedback loop in terms of how can we keep improving what we’re doing to better serve that organization?
Nathaniel Schooler 18:44
Yeah, hundred percent. So. So really, I mean, Product Marketing, is, is, whilst it’s very complex, and it has a lot of people who are involved with it. It’s marketing, right? It’s not a sort of, kind of dark art is it?
Eric Moeller 19:02
It is just marketing. That’s all I mean, really, a product marketing is marketing, but it touches on all the different facets of marketing. So for example, say if there’s a branding change, our group would be consulted for that sort of a change.
There are campaigns teams who develop campaigns, they need input from the product marketing organization in terms of, you know, who are the right segments to be targeting this campaign at? Which vertical markets would we want to target? What are the key messages that we need to focus on? Those are some of the different facets, we have market intelligence and competitive intelligence team. And while they’re broadly looking at the marketplace and the competitive landscape as well, they will come to the product marketing organization for specific deep dives into what’s happening with competitors as well.
We really do touch every facet of marketing, there isn’t an area of marketing that we don’t get involved with. So it’s, I mean, I would say every marketer would be strengthened for having spent time working in product marketing, whether they want to do that in the long run, or if they’d rather specialize in something. But I think it’s definitely a great way to have a broad set of marketing skills. And if you liked variety in your role, it’s certainly a great way to get variety and and to see different parts parts of the business, it’s a really interesting role certainly.
Nathaniel Schooler 20:25
Yeah, it sounds like a lot of fun. Actually, it really does yeah. I had no idea it was so complex actually Eric, I knew you did some amazing things over. But it’s like, but it’s like you, you’re dealing with 15 different markets, right? And in multiple languages, multiple different governmental regulations. It’s a really complicated role. Like, I don’t know how you make time for anything else in your life, to be honest, you must be getting pretty good at managing your time. I imagine after all this, the ALT MBA stuff you’ve been doing?
Eric Moeller 21:02
Yeah, definitely. One other quick thing I just gonna mention on all that complexity, I think the thing is, you definitely have to rely upon having a strong team. So all that complexity is definitely made easier by having a really good team that you can trust and rely upon. So that that’d be one thing. But the other thing too, if you’re familiar with, you know, the 80/20 principle or the pareto principle, I think that’s a critical part of this, as well as that you can’t do everything well.
You have to really figure out what are the most important things that I need to do really well. And where can working to have maybe not as high expectations in other areas as well. So in my case, I know that there are five markets that drive, you know, three quarters of the revenue that that I deliver. So that gives me a very strong queue in terms of where do I need to if I need to succeed? How do I really make sure I’m covering these markets as effectively as possible? So I think that’s again, knowing your numbers is really critical part of it as well. So you get a sense of where do you put your attention?
Nathaniel Schooler 22:07
Yeah, that makes that makes a lot of sense. Keeping keeping really focused on the 80% of results from 20% of your efforts is just like, it’s like a no brainer, isn’t it? Really!
Eric Moeller 22:17
But yeah, definitely.
Nathaniel Schooler 22:19
But it’s so easy to get distracted in today’s, you know, technology world and just, you know, enjoy sort of doing things, but actually not being productive. And I think that’s, that’s a big thing that, you know, marketers especially struggle with.
Eric Moeller 22:34
Absolutely, yeah, that’s good point.
Nathaniel Schooler 22:37
Yeah, yeah. So I think we should move on to the next topic to talk about writing skills, if you like, because you’ve, you’ve given a amazing overview of product marketing. I mean, do you think, you know, we’ve sort of missed anything? Are there any sort of other tips you might want to give people who are going into product marketing?
Eric Moeller 22:59
Well, I mean, I think I’ve covered the big things that I yeah, I mean, tips. I think he’s like, you know, be proactive. I mean, I think these are really critical parts know, be clear on what the goal is, and how you’re progressing towards the goal. I think those are probably the key takeaways. I would, I would highlight. But yeah, happy to talk about writing, if that’s the next thing you wanted to cover?
Nathaniel Schooler 23:20
Yeah, that’d be fantastic. I mean, I think, you know, we, we could talk a little bit more, if you like about product marketing. I mean, it’s, it’s a big subject, isn’t it? I think writing is also a big subject. Really Eric, isn’t it?
Eric Moeller 23:34
Yeah, it certainly they’re both very big subjects. But what you know, to tie the two together, I actually think writing skills are a critical component of, you know, for a product marketer or any marketer for that matter. It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but maybe if I just tell you a little bit about the background of all this, going back, probably about five or six years, I was listening to a lot of podcasts. And I remember hearing different entrepreneurs being interviewed and then talking a lot about the importance of learning the craft of sales copywriting.
I remember at the time thinking, and I’ve worked in marketing my entire career. I hear people talking about sales copywriting, but I’m not even sure if I’m completely clear on what they’re talking about being or they just what exactly is that they’re talking about. And many of them reference these different books that were great books to read, to learn about sales, copywriting, and really, if you distill it down, when you think about copywriting, it’s writing words. But if you think of that sales copywriting, it’s how to use words to sell as effectively as possible?
So even like I said, even though I had been working in my current, it’s not something that I had developed in develop my skills in further. So is the sort of journey where I bought a couple of books on sales, copywriting, the ones that people had recommended, and I started to dig into it. And there’s almost like this onion, you know, you start peeling it back layer by layer. And for the better part of a couple years, I can completely geeked out on sales copywriting. And I can’t remember how many books on sales copywriting I have now I might have upwards of 20 to 25 books on sales copywriting.
So it really was something that I completely nerded it out on and loved. And it’s definitely something that I would recommend other people even if you’re not interested in and you’re going to get to that length of reading, you know, 20 plus books on sales, copywriting, at the very least, I would say, get your hands on one book of sales, copywriting. and dig into that. And really what it’s going to look at is, how do you plan how you brights in terms of what is it that your audience cares about? How do you connect whatever it is that they need, want or desire, with what you’re offering? And how do you present things in a more compelling way. And it’s it really could be a game changer for anybody who decides yet I’m going to actually spend some time learning as much about this is possible. And like I said, in these podcasts where the ideas just put into my mind, these were entrepreneurs that were saying:- “How do I leverage sales copywriting as a way to get my business off the ground?” That’s really the perspective that they were taking. So yeah, happy to dig into any area from there. But overall, I’d say that’s really that was the turning point for me, getting turned on to sales copywriting and then really spent a couple years investing in that skill set.
Nathaniel Schooler 26:20
Wow, that sounds amazing. So what’s the actual, what’s the best book that you would recommend people buy? Like, if you if you only could have one book? What book would you buy? Sure, I’ll answer that question. Then I’ll also throw in a few others. And I’ll explain in a moment.
Eric Moeller 26:37
The book that, for me is the best book on sales copywriting that I’ve ever read. It’s called tested advertising methods. And it has the most generic sounding title you could ever imagine. And again, because it’s been about six years since I’ve read it, I’ve forgotten the author’s name, I should have checked that before the the interview but tested advertising methods. Now the challenge with this book is that it’s actually out of print. So you can find it on Amazon, but they’re all the second hand copies of the copy that I own a second hand and the price, depending on how often it’s referencing people’s podcasts, it tends to go up.
Nathaniel Schooler 27:13
So it’s sixty five pounds for a second hand. There you go a second hand copy.
Eric Moeller 27:19
I think when I bought it, it might have been 10 pounds. So yeah, it’s one of those things where as they get mentioned in interviews, they just spike. So it’s it can be difficult and also expensive to get your hands on. But if you’re really committed, I would definitely recommend people pick up that book. If they’re looking for other books.
Joseph Sugarman is another he’s an American sales copywriter. And I forgotten the name of the book of his that I again, I should have checked these titles before it came out
Nathaniel Schooler 27:47
Just have a look. I’m just a very good at the Ad Week Copywriting.
Eric Moeller 27:51
That’s exactly. That’s right. It’s an excellent book if people are looking for an overview. So that’s another good one. Dan Kennedy is an American sales copy writer has a lot of great books as well. And then if people are looking at it again, sales copywriting can be different culturally. There is certainly an American style from sales copywriting. And then I’ll see for people in Europe, there’s more of a you know, an English or British style of sales copywriting. So a really good sales copywriter. In the UK, his name is Andy Maslin. He’s got, I think about five or six different books that I’ve read all of them and they’re all excellent. So I think people can’t go wrong, any of those books, but certainly teach them a lot of its sales copywriting.
Nathaniel Schooler 28:33
Okay, that’s, that’s really, really helpful. I was gonna say the same thing actually about cultural differences. There’s, you know, that they certainly exist. I mean, if you if you send someone an email written in a Dan Kennedy style in England, you know, a lot of people will just be like, what is this?
It’s too, it’s too in your face. I mean, I think we have a certain sort of Britishness, don’t worry about us. I mean, I know you live in the UK, and it’s quite funny, really. I’m going to brush up on my copywriting, actually, and read one of these books, because I think you’re completely right. And, and the way that I look at it, it’s not just for marketers, it’s for anyone within a business. If you can communicate your message in an email to someone and actually get the real message across that you intended in the right tone, received in the right way.
Then you’re going to you’re going to advance your career a lot faster than you would if you sent a message that was in the mood that you perhaps in we’re in when you wrote it, or, you know, and it isn’t easy, like I mean, I’ve sent all sorts of emails to people and and you know, sometimes they hit the mark, and people get a good feeling from them. Other times, they don’t even respond. And it’s, it’s really quite funny, isn’t it?
Eric Moeller 29:55
Absolutely. When the things when you take the time to invest in sales, copywriting, learning the skill and mastering it, as you say, you will use it everywhere, everything from presentations that you give to emails that you send to prospects or even to call it to sell someone on an idea. Website copy, online advertising, it really is anywhere you would leverage words, I’ve done sales copywriting in the past, even for video scripts. So even though you’re hearing the information, someone has written something ahead of time to figure out how do we get this message across as effectively as possible.
I think there’s some really critical elements in all that, you know, whether you want to call it a trick or a hack or tactic, I don’t think you can trick people into buying something that they don’t want. I think really, sales copywriting is all about understanding your customer or your prospect, depending on what the relationship is that you have with them. It really is understanding what they care about, and then figuring out how to connect what you’re offering to what they care about. I think sometimes we fool ourselves, we say:- “Oh, yeah, no, no, this is what that that person needs!” That you have to really have empathy and understand, is this really something that they care about? Or do I just have something? And I’m trying to figure out who to sell it to? So it definitely gets you to do a lot of self reflection to think through who who it’s for what it’s for? How you’re trying to help them to be successful with that product in their lives.
Nathaniel Schooler 31:30
Yeah, yeah, I think you’ve got to come from, from a place of sincerity, no doubt about it. Because if you persuade someone to buy something, generally, you’re going to get a refund, or you’re going to get someone complaining about something but right. With writing skills. There are lots of different styles, right. And, you know, I mean, I’m, I’m trying to be much better at grammar. And I think using a spellcheck is so important. Whilst I like to get that words, right, myself, first, I do try my best, but I still have to use a spell check. I mean, now I actually do a lot of transcriptions.
So all my podcasts are transcribed into into words, and probably get about 90% accuracy with an AI tool that I use, which she’s just amazing. And, yeah, I have to go in and edit them. But the thing is, is that I sort of cheat because people know it’s a transcription because it has the name. So above my name, you know, it’ll say my name, and then it will have a time slot, and then it will have some words, and then it will have your name and then a time slot. So I sort of cheat. But if I want to, I can take those time slots out, and I can turn those into articles.
Eric Moeller 32:45
Nathaniel Schooler 32:47
It is possible, you and I could sit here for an hour and a half. And we could write a 15,000 word book in an hour half. No problem. Yeah, using transcription tools, and they are getting better, but they are still not as accurate as I would like if I’m brutally honest.
Eric Moeller 33:07
Nathaniel Schooler 33:11
When I was at school, I had this English teacher, and he was awful to me. And he used to tell me that I’d be I’m not gonna say exactly what he used to. He used to bully me a lot, because his class was so boring. And he wasn’t really a very good English teacher. I wasn’t very interested in what he was teaching.
So I kind of I didn’t write anything vaguely legible. Until, let me see. It’s got to be it’s got to be about seven years ago, six years ago, I started writing. And I read Seth Golden’s book, which is the Icarus Deception. Yeah, that’s excellent book. Yeah, it’s an excellent book. And I read that, and it’s very interesting, because it actually just says, you know, that everyone has a voice, and you will find your tribe. And those are the people who are going to like your content, and just get out there and get started.
So I thought, you know, what, okay, I’m over 30 now, I think I was 35. And I’m going to get writing, I’m going to start writing. And I started writing and started writing, and it took probably two years, three years, maybe four. And then IBM approached me to do some writing for for one of their blogs that they were launching, like a new site, and Seth Godin was hired to write some of the posts at the beginning of the of the actual launch phase. So a load of us were kind of hired to write these blogs. And, and I actually worked alongside someone who’d been in marketing sort of 20 plus years, and was it was a barister, and his English, you know, he was brutal with me. And it really helps to have someone who you can, you can write an article with, and you can send it to them. And then they, they look at it, they edited, send it back, like revision two.
You look at it, you edit it, then you send it back to them. And then each time that article is getting better and better now, it’s great idea, right. And now, you know, I can write some good stuff, but you’re not going to become an amazing writer overnight. Yeah, it, you know, it’s just doesn’t work like that. You need to practice it.
Eric Moeller 35:26
Absolutely. Yeah, I think you’ve touched on a couple of really important parts. One is, as you say, practicing it over and over again. And I think the other part that you mentioned to is being open to that feedback, I think that’s something that I’ve certainly learned over the past decade is how to be more open to feedback. I think in the past, I was very closed to feedback, I might ask for feedback. But once I received it, I was very defensive to it close to it, not willing to really implement it. And through actually the ALT MBA, which you touched on, we never really got a chance to talk about a program that is offered by Seth Godin is all about feedback, how do you actively solicit feedback and really view feedback as a gift? Someone has given you a gift. And now you have to figure out what what do I do with this? Is this feedback that I can take action on? Or is it maybe not the right sort of feedback? But I think, yeah, as you say, being open to that feedback is really critical. And even, you know, having the ability to see your own work with, with a new perspective as you get better at your craft. And as you start to get that feedback, because I think that’s the thing, when I’ve looked at how my own writing has evolved over the years, you start to develop this skill to see how you’ve written something, say:-
“Well, actually, that’s not that clear. How do I make that clear?”
And again you might rewrite a section, you might say, these three words could actually be replaced by this one word, using one word instead of three makes it more succinct. Okay, I’ll make that change as well. And yeah, you really do get that skill over time. But I think part of it is, is just having the freedom to dump your ideas onto the page, then being ruthless with your own editing in terms of how you make it as clear as possible, as succinct as possible. And also, as engaging to read and as powerful as possible. Whatever the messag is.
Nathaniel Schooler 37:13
Yeah, yeah. Oh, absolutely. 100%. I mean, I think, I think it’s, it’s lovely, that you that you summed up all of that so concisely, and is that a word? So concisely? It might be in a concise in a concise manner, one might say,
Eric Moeller 37:28
Nathaniel Schooler 37:31
You know, but, it is like that. I mean, you could you can find yourself just writing for the sake of writing. And I would much rather have read 500 words or 600 words of on point information than actually reading a 1000 word blog that just goes into drivel, because so many people now they just skip, they don’t, then they’re not interested in reading an article, they just want to skip and read the bullet points. So what’s your what’s your take bullet points Eric?
Eric Moeller 38:01
Yeah, well, I think, see, this is it was interesting that you brought this topic of, of length of contents? Because I think it depends, right? It’s such a middle.
Nathaniel Schooler 38:12
Yeah. It does!
Eric Moeller 38:14
Well, I mean, I won’t just stop the answer there. I’ll actually explain what I mean. I think the thing is, there are times when I’ll read a business book, where I will invest the time to read the entire book. And I’ll think, well, this could easily been summarized in one chapter. And I actually would have preferred that. So one chapter would have been preferred to 12.
So there are times when I think there’s a danger and people trying to expand things, because they think that that’s what’s required, I need to justify this by having a larger length book. You know, coincidentally, if you look at it Seths books, not all of them, but many of them are very short. If you look at a book like “The Dip.” Again, I don’t remember how many pages that it’s a very thin book. And I think that’s the thing is, I personally enjoy when a book is short, and it that’s all it needs to be then that’s great. There are other times though, when you don’t want something to be too short, because it’s something that you’re actually enjoying. And I think when you think about sales copy, and you think about sales copy might read on the website, picture, you might picture a new product.
And it’s a very short again to use word counts like you mentioned, if there was a product that had say only 500 words, to say, you know:- “What the product is? The benefit? You know, what the different attributes are the product, how it may benefit me etc. 500 words may not be sufficient, if it’s something that maybe is a larger purchase, you you know, picture a product that maybe costs 30,000 pounds, for example, 500 words may not be sufficient, you might actually want 1500 to 3000 words. And it’s not that you’ll necessarily read all those things that you might be looking for everything from testimonials, what what if other people said about it? What are the frequently asked questions, and and all those, when you look at something like an FAQ section, when you’re writing an FAQ section you really trying to think through what are all the questions someone’s going to have? or potentially what are the objections or concerns that they’re going to have? And how do you actually go through and answer those. And I think that’s where long form copy can play an effective role. If someone’s trying to decide whether to buy a three pound ebook, me clearly, they don’t need 3000 words to sell them on that. So I think the price can be indicative of how long the copy should be. But yeah, I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule. But I think it really is, what’s what is required to get the job done. And what is it that your prospect is going to want to know?
Nathaniel Schooler 40:39
Yeah. I mean, it goes back to who the audience is, doesn’t it? I mean, absolutely. technical person, they might want to read 10,000 words, like you don’t know. But it all depends on what you’re what you’re trying to write the end of the day. And I just think that I just think it’s so enjoyable to actually when you when you write something that you nailed it. I mean, I wrote a book. Yeah, I didn’t release it. I just have it on my website for sale. It’s called cheers to you. And I got a friend of mine to write the title for me. He’s a New York Times bestselling author six times and really nice guy called Bryan Eisenberg. You might know him, you probably you probably seen him. But he, he’s written he wrote a book on I think it’s called Branding like Amazon or something like that. He’s obsessed with obsessed with customer service. And he’s obsessed with the Amazon mentality. And, and his books are very, very short. The book that he gave me, was so short and actually writing a book, people who’ve never written a book, or never written anything. They actually can’t understand how you can do it. Like, it seems like a feat beyond them.
Yeah, but but when you do it, you realize how hard it is. It is hard. I mean, I wrote, I think I wrote how many thousands was it was probably, it was probably 10,000 words. Not a long book you know, it’s not a long book. But the thing is, is that I gave it to my so I edited it to the, you know, to the nines. I mean, I spent ages writing this book, and I sent it to my dad, and he’s a professor. Yeah. So, you know, he’s a retired professor. And, you know, he went to MIT and stuff. So, he’s not stupid. Yeah. So, you know, he’s read a lot of his read a lot of reports, and he’s edited a lot of stuff. So he read it. And he actually didn’t change anything. But what he did do is he pulled me up on the grammar that I’ve been using, and he said:- “Well, actually, this isn’t grammatically correct.”
And I said:- “Well, I know that dad, that’s fine. But it’s my style.”
So from my side of things, I think, you know, I mean, I’m not a sales copywriter. Right. So I’m not coming from a sales copywriting background. It’s not something I know much about, and I’m going to learn about it after speaking with you today. I’m going to go and start studying it as it would help me a lot. But what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to write something in your style.
Eric Moeller 43:16
Yeah, absolutely. Right.
Nathaniel Schooler 43:19
Eric Moeller 43:20
I fully agree with you. I think there’s an American entrepreneur whose name is Neville Maduro. And he also talks a lot about sales copywriting. If you look at his blog, I mean, I’ve never met him in person. So I don’t know this for a fact. But I get the sense that his blog, he writes, the way he speaks, I guess that’s the thing is different audiences are going to different styles of writing will resonate with different people. Some people want more academic writing, some people want some it sounds informal and casual, some people want something that sounds, you know, maybe, tip for lack of a better expression, very urban.
So I think you’re right, you need to you need to be authentic, you need to be true to whatever your style is, you know, don’t don’t sound like the way you don’t actually sound in real life. So I think that’s a critical point that you highlight.
Nathaniel Schooler 44:09
Yeah,yeah. I mean, anyone can get someone and hire them to write a book for them. I mean, it varies from what probably 500 pounds, up to 10s of thousands of pounds. Yeah, I know people that write books, is it, there’s a gentleman near you absolutely lovely chap.
But the thing is, it all depends, like, if you want to write a book is I don’t have a problem with people that write a book and get someone else to write it. But I think that it definitely needs to contain the personality of the individual, like what you were just saying is absolutely correct. There’s no doubt about it. So important. Because otherwise someone’s going to talk to you. And they’re going to be like:- “Well, you don’t even know anything about this book. Like, you know, you’ve, you’ve positioned yourself as an expert in your space by writing a book, but actually, you don’t know anything about it.”
Yes. Actually, really quite funny when you when you see that. And unfortunately, the big corporations are rife with this. They will they will hire ghost writers for their people. Yeah. And they will write blogs and that frankly, they’re half assed, yeah, excuse me, they’re half past that the quality that they’re churning out, they might start off with a nice bit of style and have a good title and a good idea and a good concept that flows through all of the blogs for that person. Yeah. However, it is not quite, it’s not high quality enough. And I’ve seen it in many, many cases with some of the biggest technology companies in the world.
Eric Moeller 45:45
I agree. I mean, I I have goes for it and content for other people before. But for me, personally, I wouldn’t want to put my name on anything other than something I’d written myself. And I think it just comes to down to your own values as a person. What is it that you value? Again, I wouldn’t want to tell people that I wanted award if I actually didn’t, if I didn’t want it or didn’t feel like I had deserved it. I think that it’s the same thing with writing is that there, it’s, there is a lot of work, as you said, that goes into writing a book or some longer piece of content. And I would only want to put my name to something that I had actually written myself. Yeah, again, not to judge others. But that just again, it’s depends what a person’s values are. But yeah, for me, that’s the only way I would do it.
Nathaniel Schooler 46:34
Oh, hundred percent me too. But what I do like is, if you actually don’t write the book yourself, or the content yourself, at least say you didn’t write it, because if you, you know, if you’re like listening to this, and you’re thinking, well:- “I’ve got something really, really important that I want to write about, but I don’t have the skills to right. Yeah. And I’m, and I’m actually not going to put the time and effort to write anything.”
Because it is very time consuming. Learning how to write it really is if you if you’re not if you didn’t have a GCSE in English, you know, and you didn’t do well at school and you’re not a very good writer. Naturally. It is difficult to write no doubt about it. But you know, there’s this book here I read one pretty before Christmas. Yeah, purchased it on the 11th of December, and I couldn’t put it down. I’m just looking on Amazon now. And it’s, it’s called can’t hurt me. And you’ve probably heard about it.
Eric Moeller 47:29
I’ve heard of it. Yeah!
Nathaniel Schooler 47:30
Yeah. And it’s by a chap called David Goggins. Okay, yeah. And so the subtitle is master your mind and defy the odds. Okay. And he actually says that he didn’t write the book himself. Okay. You look at it. Yeah. He actually says he didn’t, he didn’t write it. And he actually says, who wrote the book, I think you’ll find, I’m just having a look at, it doesn’t actually say, when you buy it on Amazon, it looks like he’s the author. But when you actually read the book, it is I believe, I’m just gonna have a quick look, before we scoot off because I know you’ve probably got a run off. But on on in the book it somewhere it says that it’s written by someone else. So don’t be afraid to get someone else to write it for you. But for God’s sake, put your you know, put some words into the guy’s hands. You can’t, you gotta tell the guy a story or the lady a story, transcription tools that are amazing. You can you can record audio for the person and send them an hour’s audio. And then you could even create a book in one hour.
Eric Moeller 48:43
Oh, yeah. And certainly the role of either an editor or a ghost writer would be; they would take all that raw content, and maybe they would read, you know, re-order things were cluster things together. So I think you bring up a good point that sort of the best of both worlds that if you don’t feel strong as writer, you can certainly create the raw content, and then have either a ghost writer or an editor organize your thoughts for you. But yeah sounds like a reasonable approach.
Nathaniel Schooler 49:10
Yeah. So to sum up writing skills, right? It all starts with, get it out of your head, onto your computer, or even if you want to write I mean, some people write it on paper, and then they put it into words, and then they edit it, but just get it all out there, and then condense it down.
But would you start with some topics that you want to cover, like five or 10 topics that you want to cover? If you’re writing something?
Eric Moeller 49:38
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s probably the starting point is if you know, the author, James Altecher, he talks about this idea of having lists that he creates every day. So he has this exercise of coming up with less. So one day, he might come up, say, How can I come with this, I should say, read less ideas, come up with 10 ideas for new businesses. And then another day might say, what a 10 blog ideas that I could come up with another day, it might be you know, what are 10 solutions to problem x, whatever the case may be.
But in his case, he talks about developing this creativity muscle, I think, to your point, if someone wants to practice the writing skill, I think they need to be constantly thinking about what are interesting things that I could write about. And I think, rather than being too self critical, you know, whether something is a good idea or bad idea, just get all the ideas down, have a list. And then as you start to write those ideas down, you might riff on your own ideas and say:- “Well, actually, instead of this, what if I took a slightly different angle, and I did that instead?”
And I think sometimes people lose, they lose touch with their creativity, I think it’s important to stay connected to that creativity, it’s you know, it’s a muscle that can atrophy if you don’t use it. But to your point, if you just keep thinking about all the different things, you could write and keep a list, the idea may not be ready now, by putting it down in six months, you might actually come back to that topic with a fresh perspective and say, Actually, I’ve got a new idea as to how I might take this idea and share it with others in my writing. So yeah, it’s that’s definitely a critical part of it.
Nathaniel Schooler 51:13
Yeah, 100% this, it’s so exciting writing is so much fun when you really get into it. I love writing, I’m just about to do some writing in the next few days. Because I’m working working with a tech company at the moment to write write some content. So I’m I’m basically helping some influencers to create some content really quickly, because, some blogs need to be written that educate the market, and then they give away a free trial. So basically, one of the influencers who’s hugely influential, she actually can’t do the content as quickly as the company wants it. So I said:- “Why don’t you just record some of the information that you want me to put in this article? And then I’ll send it back to you, you can add your style, which is developer kind of style speak.”
Yeah. And then you send it back to me, I’ll modify it, send it back to you. And then we’ll have a piece of content really quickly, because otherwise, that could be an agency involved, which could it actually lengthen the process of the creation of the content? And if a company wants to content fast, you have to create it, you need to create a quick using transcription is like amazing. Hey, I before transcription, like it was so hard.
Eric Moeller 52:35
Nathaniel Schooler 52:36
Yeah. Yeah. Well, Eric, you’ve been really generous with your time. Thank you so much. And so if people want to find you they can they can reach out to you on LinkedIn. Is that is that the best place?
Eric Moeller 52:46
That would be great? Absolutely not. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. Hope to do it again sometime and yeah, thanks for for reaching out.
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