Karim Hamidou

When programmers write sales pages

Call me weird but I’ve always loved reading longform sales pages. Lately I’ve been reading through some programming ebooks sales pages and I’ve noticed a pattern again and again: every one of them is extremely short.

For example, here’s how Working with unix processes sells itself1.

storimer benefits

Of course the subject is deeply technical, but I’m sure people would have benefited from a little more hand-holding. So, there are real world concerns about spawning shell commands, what are they?

On the other hand, Here’s an excerpt from the landing page of the Ultimate Guide to Disneyworld. It’s an ebook written for middle-aged stay-at-home moms, and it has a great landing page. Here’s how the author sells one of the many chapters of the book (highlighting is mine):

haworth benefits

See the difference? The Disneyland ebook is a lot more upfront about the value it will bring out.

Most programmers don’t like to brag. We’d like our products to stand on their own merits. It’s not a good idea to do this on your landing page, though. There’s a lot of potential readers out there who don’t understand the problem enough to make an informed choice and they’re also the ones who need your book the most.

Key takeaway: You shouldn’t expect your customers to understand the value of your product by themselves.

  1. This is just an example; I’ve got nothing against Jesse Storimer. I actually think his intro text is really really well written. It’s one of the best opening sentences I’ve ever read on a landing page. (Here it is, for the curious:

    You're a web developer. A good one. You write Rails apps in your sleep. But you skipped over some fundamentals. You feel like your foundation is lacking. This book will fill that gap.

    It really speaks to me.)