Product Management
February 28, 2023

Writing Techniques to Boost Your Product Marketing Storytelling

Writing Techniques to Boost Your Product Marketing Storytelling

In today's blog, we have Meenal Relekar, ADPList Mentor & Product Marketing Leader, sharing techniques, and tips for better writing as a product marketer.

Being a multilingual product marketer can bring its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to writing. I easily switch between many languages in my head while thinking. I've got a million thoughts in my head, but putting them into words can seem daunting. And once I've got those thoughts down on paper, turning them into something that makes sense to others – is a whole new challenge in itself.

In this article, I won't be writing about messaging frameworks or positioning statements, which are common PMM tasks. There are plenty of frameworks out there. It takes a combination of art and science to writing them in a way that makes sense. Instead in this article, I will discuss the MACJ method from "Better Business Writing" by Harvard Business Review. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to mentor a candidate who is a non-native English speaker and was struggling with her job interviews. She was in tears because she was having trouble putting her thoughts into words while translating them in her mind. I encouraged her to try using the MACJ method and to keep writing until she was able to get it right. It worked!

So, what is the MACJ Method? Well, it is like a recipe for writing! All you need is a dash of Madman, a pinch of Architect, a scoop of Carpenter, and a bit of Judge, and you'll be turning your ideas into a structured copy! Let’s take a dive deep.

Here’s how I used the MACJ method to write this blog post.

1. Brainstorming like Don Draper: The Madman Method for Generating Wild Ideas

As a marketer, I'm sure I'm not alone in being a fan of the tv show, Mad Men, and the creativity of Don Draper. Similarly, the brainstorming stage of writing is all about generating as many ideas as possible and letting your creativity run wild. The key is to NOT judge or edit.

Here’s how I started with this blog. I have a document called "Brain Dump" where I jot down all of my ideas, no matter how random or stupid they may seem. Lately, I've been wanting to write about various topics in product marketing, like GTM, positioning, and messaging, but I just couldn't seem to settle on one. That's when I got the idea of writing about “Writing” itself. I came across the MACJ method in the book by Harvard Business Review and it caught my attention.

So, I created a new document called "writing brain dump" and started gathering all the information I had on that topic. At this stage, I brainstormed potential headlines and considered various content ideas. I’m clear on why I want to write this and the target audience I aim to reach. After this stage, I take a break and go for a bike ride or simply relax.

2. Bringing Order to Chaos: Structuring My Ideas as the Architect

After a brainstorming session filled with ideas, it is time to bring structure to the chaos. 

I have many friends who are architects and I know their love for turning raw ideas into well organized pieces. The aim here is to have key points and topics, create a logical flow for the content, outline each section, and determine what information should go in each part.  

Continuing with my blog example, I now have another doc (tada! I’m the doc queen.) but this one is where the real magic happens. I finalize a headline option, outline and then transfer all the relevant content from the previous doc into each section. This approach of breaking down my work into smaller pieces helps me stay focused.

3. The Carpenter Steps Up: Creating Your First Draft

This is where the creation starts to take shape! It's time for me to take all the ideas and plans I've created and turn them into a rough draft. During this stage, I don't worry about making it perfect. My top priority is to arrange my thoughts and put them on paper in a clear, readable format, with a powerful narrative. This is to get my story right. Once I have a good draft written, I'll move on to the next step.     

4. The Judge: Balancing Perfection and the Final Verdict

Finally, it's time to put on my judge's robes and review the piece. This is where I get to bring all the details together, fix any grammar mistakes, correct typos, and refine word choices before publishing it.

I read and reread, fine-tuning and tightening things up to make sure the content is clear and engaging. And then comes the fun part, which is the GIF hunt in my case.

Pro Tips

With a clear understanding of the MACJ method, here are a few practical tips to bring your ideas to life:

  • Organize your thoughts: Try using the MACJ method, which was extremely helpful for me in managing my ADHD. Set aside a specific time block and just dive in!
  • Write in short bursts: Write when you're feeling the most creative. For me, that's usually at night.
  • Read: I read many blogs and articles and that has helped me develop a sense of style and structure that I can apply to my own writing. 
  • Leverage tools: I love using Grammarly and have found it to be a great tool for improving my writing tone. I’ve realized that I have a tendency to write in the passive voice, but Grammarly has helped me change that.
  • Get feedback: Share your writing with others and ask for feedback. 
  • Practice, practice, practice: Writing is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice to improve. 

To put it simply

I love to tell stories and now I tell them through writing. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I've taken up the challenge of writing blogs as regularly as I can.

Remember, writing is a journey and it takes time. Be patient with yourself, and don't be afraid to experiment with new things. 

So if you're feeling overwhelmed by writing tasks as a product marketer, give this model and tips a try. Put pen to paper. Just keep putting one word in front of the other and soon you will have an article ready. If I can do it, so can you. Give it a try!

Author's Bio

With a vast 15 years of proven experience in product marketing and management across industries (technology, consumer products, automobile), Meenal Relekar is an ADPList mentor who has previouly led product at Adobe, Dropbox, and Autodesk. She has been helping mentees from across the world with framing interview answers, resume writing, and case studies. Follow Meenal on LinkedIn, website, or book a session with her on ADPList.