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A copywriting masterclass from a dyslexic who can’t read nor write

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I’ve always been obsessed with the research part of copywriting, especially the interviewing process. Interviewing is an art, and I just stumbled on someone who can teach us all a lesson or two on how to do it right…

Enter Bob Moesta.

Unless you’re a true marketing nerd, you might have never heard of him. Together with Clayton Christensen, he’s the co-creator of the Jobs To Be Done Framework. It’s a research methodology that focuses on understanding the progress a customer is trying to make in a particular circumstance, which is the ‘job’ that arises out of their struggle.

Examples of JTBD are:

  1. Smartphone: stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues.
  2. Project management software: ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.
  3. Electric toothbrush: clean teeth more effectively than a manual toothbrush.

And so on…

Bob Moesta also wrote 4 books.

And he’s dyslexic, can’t read nor write.

But the reason why he’s so successful and can glean insights very few people can, lies in his approach.

He wears the shoes of a criminal interrogator.

In his book “Demand-side sales”, Moesta says:

It’s natural human behavior to hold back when being questioned; to give the simplest answers to stop the interview. As a result, our interviewing techniques are based more on criminal and intelligence interrogation methods than market research methods and social sciences.

You must unpack things from the details, to actions, as well as to when (time) and to space (where). It’s the details that enable us to understand what caused a person to make progress and buy our product or solution. But the interrogation should feel like a casual conversation, like talking to a friend. Easier said than done.

That’s how you get the context. I will never get tired of shouting it out into the world, but context matters. Reason why my copy work is so UX-heavy. The user experience goes with the copy and vice versa.

For example:

  • We always conduct interviews, surveys, etc…. but don’t stop there. We also run usability tests that are focused not just on design elements but also on the words used
  • We focus on the microcopy such as button texts, error messages, and form field labels, not just in-app, but on the website as well. Details, remember?
  • We make sure that the tone of voice is consistent across ALL platforms and types of copy, from the website to mobile apps to help guides
  • We contextualize our copy with the design. With tips and helpful explanations for example
  • We write copy that’s inclusive and accessible. Easy to understand language and text that works well with screen readers and other assistive technologies
  • I love working with UX and UI designers throughout the whole process. But…
  • …with our wireframes, the design starts with the copy. This means that the interface is designed around the content, ensuring that the message is clear and that design elements do not overshadow the copy
  • We always keep typographic hierarchy in mind to guide users through the copy
  • We align the site’s information architecture with the copy strategy. Everything from the navigation labels, to the headings, and other structural elements should be clear and self-explanatory
  • We integrate storytelling techniques into the UX to create a more compelling and memorable experience. A narrative that guides users through a sequence of interactions

So you see, it’s not just copywriting.

A past client recently shared his experience working with me. He said how while marketers fall in the trap of making their copy look pretty (aka creative), “wanting to look like Slack”, I was putting myself in people’s heads, and injecting UX, social proof and tiny little contextual details into website to complement the copy.

He equated my approach to when he gets on sales calls and wears his own company’s logo to subconsciously communicate trust. To incept an idea.

I might start calling myself an “Inception copywriter”.

Call it confirmation bias, but I’m seeing it all over the place. The value is in wearing the investigator and interrogator’s shoes. Even ChatGPT gives you better results when you prompt it for that (85%+ accuracy here):


How can you do it? Read Bob’s book first. And then start thinking of how your copy works with your entire user experience and channels.

Your customers will thank you later.

📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

1. A positioning conundrum

How do you handle positioning when your company has multiple products, serves multiple market segments, and different personas? April Dunford goes deep here.

2. How to think more effectively

If you’re in copy or marketing there are a few very fundamental meta-skills you need to master. Things like the ability to move faster, make better decisions, avoid easily avoidable mistakes, and come up with better insights. Learn what rigorous thinking is, and questions to promote it in this excellent piece by Wes Kao.

3. The only two methods you need to understand to prompt AI

Ethan Mollick goes into how you should prompt AI based on your goals. You can either use a conversational or a structured approach. Once you know the rules that’s when you can break them. Read more here.

✅ Don’t miss it

  • I’m posting a new Youtube video today. It’s another day in my life, this time while traveling and doing the whole “digital nomad” thing. I know, cringe. But when I started I would have loved to get a behind the scenes that’s realistic. Well here it is.
  • Another essay went live on my personal newsletter this week. It’s about how hope has kept me stuck for years. And how I’ve figured out what I needed to do to become a professional.
  • I just had my first couple of mentoring calls on GrowthMentor. You can still get on the free train for a while before I start charging for these. Just head here and pick a time. Here’s what the folks said:

🤔 Thought of the week

“Learning never stops. Many people die at 25 but are not put in the coffin until 75. The learning stopped for them early.”

James Altucher, Reinvent Yourself

The best anti aging supplement is learning. Never stop giving your mind and body a workout.

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Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

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