#41: Make It Punchy

Emma Stratton's guide to writing human messaging (with no robots in sight)

Emma Stratton understands good copy.

This is immediately clear as soon as you read her content on LinkedIn. For the past year, Emma (the founder of Punchy) has been my go-to expert on writing positioning and messaging that sells.

So, when I saw her name on the agenda for last week’s Product Marketing Summit in San Francisco, I couldn’t contain my excitement.

Hundreds of product marketers (myself included 🙋🏼‍♀️) gathered in person this week to learn, connect and cry bond over the challenges and joys of being a PMM. I took to the stage to give a talk about how to win at category creation (grab a copy of my slides here).

But, this isn’t about me. It’s about Emma. In today’s edition, I’m going to give you a backstage pass to Emma’s talk and her 3-step process to writing human messaging (that is, messaging that doesn’t sound like a robot).

You’re in for a treat!


You know who else made an appearance at the Summit? Our friends from Ignition.

They hosted happy hour, and in addition to doling out free drinks (thank you Derek!), they also shared launch success stories. One thing was clear: internal alignment is key.

That’s where Ignition comes in. The platform streamlines campaigns of all shapes and sizes, from tier 1 launches to beta programs. Connect your goals, positioning, segmentation, tactics and more in one central hub that all stakeholders can access.

Get everyone singing from the same songbook. Try Ignition for free, and upgrade for the price of a nice dinner. Use code TAMARA at checkout to get 25% off your first year.

How to Write Human Messaging

Raise your hand if you’ve ever read something and then thought, “no one talks like that!”.

We see it all the time in product marketing. Jargon and buzzwords like “all-in-one”, “actionable insights” and “real-time visibility”.

It’s not real! And it’s certainly not authentic. People don’t talk like robots; they talk like, well, humans. And our role as a PMM is to write messaging that reflects that.

Here’s Emma’s 3-step framework to writing human messaging:

  1. Translate it

  2. Keep it real

  3. Loosen the tie

Translate It

Avoid using vague language that leaves buyers confused. Instead, see benefits through their eyes. Ask yourself:

  • What does life look like before your product?

  • What does life look like after your product?

Then, contrast them in one message. Like this: “Avoid surprises at the end of the month. See where your shipping costs are today - and where they’ll be tomorrow - in a snap.”

Much better, right?

Keep It Real

Many businesses are tempted to appeal to everyone. But we know, when you appeal to everyone, you really appeal to no-one. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of what Emma calls “sanitized” messaging.

Not only is sanitized messaging boring, it’s also inauthentic. But, by keeping it real (using words and phrasing customers would actually say in real life), you can grab attention, inspire emotion and build connection.

Keep it real by:

  • Taking a sanitized problem or goal

  • Asking, “how do they really talk or think about them”

  • And then mirroring it in a headline

Loosen the Tie

This one’s my favorite. If you’re still left wondering if what you’ve written sounds more like a robot than a real customer, use this simple technique: say it like they would at a BBQ.

The trick here is to use natural, conversational phrasing. Replace those long, business-y words with shorter, plainer words where possible. Swap out “identification” for “see” and “diagnosis” for “find”.

And remember, the thesaurus is your friend.

For 7 days only…

PMM Camp’s private community is open for registration!

Accelerate your career alongside other product marketing experts. Join a collective of experienced PMMs who are all Seniors, Directors and VPs. With daily conversation and 3+ virtual meetups a month, you’ll unlock access to the best and brightest in PMM.

New spots open Monday September 25, but waitlisters will receive an early-bird link and special offer.

Join the waitlist now to register on Monday.


  • 📚 Reading Material: Emma’s newsletter That’s Punchy is a must-read that delivers fresh takes on positioning and messaging

  • 🎧 Playlist: April Dunford’s new podcast Positioning with April Dunford exposes her battle-tested methodology to build positioning

See you bright and early (hint: 8am PT) in the PMM Camp community tomorrow 👯‍♀️

- Tamara