Raise your hands if you ever thought being an app entrepreneur included writing a lot. Anybody? Somebody?
Ah, there you are.
We know it wasn’t on your to-do list when you first dreamed up your idea. We’re pretty sure you weren’t thinking hard on what you were writing when you were processing competitors, or filling out a LEAN canvas to make sense of your idea, or when you first started writing to friends and acquaintances about this great idea you have and would they be willing to chat with you and share some insights?
But then you got to writing down your value proposition. And building your own landing page. And reaching out to partners to kickstart user acquisition. And – shudder – writing your first intros to small investors. And suddenly you realise writing is harder than you first thought.
And maybe you’re thinking ‘oh, I’ll just hang in there until I have the resources to hire a marketing wizard to help me’. And while the marketing hire will definitely help you out, they would also like to hit you over the head with the ‘decent’ writing you put out in the early days. They will tell you:
‘Words have power.’
‘Just because you don’t call it marketing yet, doesn’t mean you’re not marketing your product to whoever is reading what you’re putting out there.’
‘Yes, you can write decently for your budding app startup, but please, just get out of your head.’
Before you ask, yes, it really is that simple. If you want to write well for your startup, you have to get out of your head.
What does it mean to ‘get out of your head’
If you think about it at face value, it just sounds confusing. You are you, with your own thoughts, all the time. You can’t just move out of your brain for five minutes. But when you think about it from a writing perspective, it becomes:
What does the receiver want to read from me?
Writing well for your app isn’t about changing who you are or what you do. It’s about taking who you are and what you do and packaging it into an understandable and attractive way for the one who is at the other end of your landing page, your email, or your app screen.
It’s about realising that your user isn’t interested in the latest technical features you’ve included in the development of your app. They’re interested in how your app will make their lives easier.
The Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt put it like this:
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”
As hard as it may be to hear this as an app owner, people don’t care about you or the effort you’ve put in your app to make it just perfect. People care about themselves and their problems. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you learn to tell the stories that will resonate with your audience.
And what about the way you write to partners or investors?
Partners and investors are two different audiences that you should treat accordingly. They won’t be as interested about the personal benefits of your app. They will look at your value proposition, so they can place you in their mental map of where businesses are positioned. And you should definitely be proud if the manager of your partner business is a user of your app. But when you draw the line, you aren’t building a partnership with a person. You’re building a partnership as a business, with another business. The bottom line for your partner is: does your app help me manage my business more easily? Does your app make the money pie bigger for all of us?
In the same way, investors won’t listen to your pitch unless you can clearly state what’s in it for them. It can be a mix of a bigger market, a better technology, a slice of the profits, a boost for their brand image. While investors may be happy about your satisfied users, they’ll be most happy to see their investments returned.
Frame your story and you get good writing
Until your app idea becomes an established startup, having the resources to invest in good writing and marketing that best fits your needs is an impossible bargain to make. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the skills to write persuasively for your audiences.
As long as you remember that writing for your app business isn’t about what you do, or your best assets, or your struggles, but about how you frame your role in the story of others, you’re on the right path. After all, every app entrepreneur dreams of changing the world of those they interact with. But the great entrepreneurs know how to write the story of their impact from the perspective of their audiences.