Why bad writing hurts product marketers

Zach Roberts
Break Into Product Marketing
4 min readOct 7, 2022


Face you make after reading a gnarly run-on sentence.

Bad writing fails to influence. Your reader just doesn’t get “it”. You’ve lost your key message to fluff. Your key message is what drives your readers to act.

Writing is a must-have skill for product marketers. You use it to capture inspiration, iron out customer research, and create compelling product campaigns.

Bad writing does not care about your core customers. The ones most likely to buy your product if they knew how it helped them. They get “it” and buy more with no hassle.

Product marketers care about core customers because they accelerate sales revenue for organizations. They ride with you until the wheels fall off. That’s what success looks like for you in product marketing.

Good writing helps you achieve that. It’s your career launchpad to break into product marketing. It’s how you answer the key question your core audience wants — how will your product help me win?

Bad writing puts you to sleep before you can answer. It puts you in a chokehold. Your fight to become a product marketer wavers. It brings your career pivot to its knees.

Bad writing forces you to tap out in three ways:

  1. You don’t know what to say
  2. You don’t know how to say it
  3. You don’t know why it matters

Be clear and direct on the problem your core customers care about. Show how your product helps. Good writing gets you there.

Here’s how to develop good writing habits to fight back.

Use your phone to capture good ideas and inspiration — problems your core audience cares about

Sales taught me how to investigate for customer problems. It taught me how to seek the what in “what to say”. Here are two questions to help you find it:

  1. Who’s my target audience?
  2. What problems do they care about?

You reach no one if you try to write for everyone. That’s the recipe for bland writing. Nobody is going to ask for second’s.

Those two questions help not to overwhelm. Or ruminate on whether it is a good idea or not.

Unlike Newton, whenever I’m struck with an idea, I don’t invent calculus to complicate your life. I park them in the “Writing Journal”.

It’s a folder within the Notes app on my phone.

You always have your phone with you. Ideas come and go. Use your phone to capture what comes to mind. Don’t force-write in the moment.

You’ve got time to flesh out your ideas. Not every idea will lead to a Pulitzer Prize.

You just need a system to capture ideas, so you don’t feel the added pressure to start from scratch.

Write only when you feel good

Nobody likes the writing process. It sucks. You want the fruit without the labor. I get it.

So make it enjoyable.

Write at your peak energy. For me, it’s the morning when I wake up, before or after a workout.

I write on my phone because it limits distractions, brings less effort than my laptop, and forces me to be more intentional in what I write.

Find what works best for you.

You’re trying to get your ideas on paper. That’s it. Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes, calls it “The Ugly Fucking Draft” (TUFD).

The goal is not to be perfect. TUFD takes the pressure off perfection. And gives you freedom to write what comes to mind.

Edit from the you perspective

Bad writing does not think about the reader. It wants you to stop at TUFD and call it a day. That’s not enough if you want success in product marketing.

Read what you wrote from your audience’s perspective. Ask yourself: “Why would this matter to them?”

This question will help you refine your TUFD. It makes your why obvious to your core audience. Your why drives the action you want to see.

Here six tips to refine your Why:

  1. Cut unnecessary words
  2. Use active-voice writing, not passive
  3. Keep every paragraph to 3–4 lines
  4. Use imagery to bring writing to life
  5. Don’t overdo it on imagery
  6. Ask someone to review what you wrote

Successful product marketers immerses themselves with their core audience. They edit what they wrote with them in mind.

How will your product help me win?

Otherwise they do nothing with what you say. Bad writing has that effect on readers.

Make it your mission to write daily. It can be in public. Or in your private journal. It brings clarity to your thoughts. Clarity you need to influence your core audience to act.

Write to capture ideas. Write TUFDs. Write to refine your why.

It won’t be perfect on your first try. But you don’t need to be perfect. You just gotta be consistent to improve.

Don’t leave your career growth on “read”.



Zach Roberts
Break Into Product Marketing

Demystify product marketing. 2022 Product Marketing Alliance Newcomer of the Year. Living in San Francisco.