Ahmad Awais



Are You Selling to HUMANS or Robots?

Ahmad AwaisAhmad Awais

I write a lot — like just last week, I wrote/edited about 55,000 words. I love to write because I love to talk about stuff. Probably it’s how I am. Maybe it’s because when you read a lot, and you see someone doing it wrong you feel the need to tell them about it. Yeah! That’s me.

What Is It All About?#

Today, I am going to talk about marketing, but before I do that, I need to make a case for who I am and why you should listen to what I have to say. That is, it’s not a post from a developer who’s sharing a bunch of tips on how to do it. I used to be a marketer. Wore many hats throughout my career and marketing was one of them.

So Meta#

Not many of you know that about me that right next day of my graduation as an Electrical Engineer I accepted a junior lead marketing position in a local software agency. An Electrical Engineer, obsessed with Web & WordPress, starting his professional career as a marketer. So, meta?


Anywho, I did several marketing projects in the first four months there which led me to a senior lead position where I co-led Marketing, Sales, and Production i.e. web/mobile teams. Moreover, I had actually enrolled into an Executives MBA program at COL Uni of Burnaby  – Canada. Yup, I was getting serious in that niche.

Project Spotlight#

I also crafted and executed a mega marketing campaign for WAAR the movie. With more than 20,000 ratings that averaged a 9.4 rating, WAAR ranked as #1 in Highest Rated Feature Films Released In 2013

It kept ranking for almost two years; that’s one year after I had left the position. It’s still the most voted movie in the history of Lollywood* and still has about 20k more votes as compared to the one at the second place.

I guess that’s enough evidence to make a case that I know what I am talking about. My only intention here is to make sure, anyone who reads this post takes it seriously.

Small WordPress Businesses#

Long story short, I left that marketing position because I felt that good about myself as a developer. I had a long history with WordPress which is, of course, I was not ready to give up on development for project management and marketing. That’s just me. Nothing against the marketing niche.

Getting Into Products Business#

It was the same time when I started a small WordPress business (to sell products, been working as a WP contractor for about five years before that) and dropped out of the eMBA program. Since then I have had been selling products, building relationships in the WordPress community and have read about almost all of them. Maybe not all of them, what I mean is that I read a lot about what’s WP community up to. Damn, I suck at writing about myself.

Building Relations#

It’s fundamentally hard to build a relationship without meeting someone in person. Especially, when you are sitting here in South Asia and your clients are in the US. But without building relations with other developers and your clients, you can’t really grow fond of the WP community.

Add Value Get Value#

I found out that the best way to build relationships was to give back. You need to add more value to the community to find value in the community. I did that by writing, helping in the support forums, getting people to care about WP by arranging meetups, contributing back to the WordPress core and many many other WordPress businesses.

Doing It Wrong#

So, now you know that I had a marketing background before I got into all of this and that I started a business and eventually gave back to the community to build relationships. During this time, I began to pick up on a few things that I think almost every new WordPress business is doing wrong.


Traction is one of those silicon-valley-startup words which you might have grown accustomed to hearing if you have anything to do with the startup scene. For simplicity, let’s think of traction as engagement. Otherwise, there’s debate on what it actually means, and you’re more than welcome to read about it.

Traction but How?#

Every new WP business is looking for traction. What happens is that developers get an idea — they either partner up with another developer or build it themselves. Once they have spent months developing a product, it’s only then they start thinking about selling it. Most of them, like any other business, are new to this and have no experience in marketing or talking about their products.

Good Product Sells Itself (Not Really)#

Some products are magnificent, which are needed for a good deal of people, and they do not care about how the business is being marketed, they just go ahead and buy them. You know — shut-up-and-take-my-money kinda businesses! But the fact is, there is so much saturation in the WP market that there ain’t any gap left for you to tap and wait for revenue to rack up.

Just Use It Once#

More often than not, when I talk to small WordPress businesses, I end up hearing questions like these — Why are people not talking about my product? How to get people to care about what I’ve built? Why can’t WPTavern write a post about my product? Holly shit, how did this new product got so much attention and not mine. My product is far superior. And all of it ends up with one last remarkable question — If they can just use my product once, they’ll know what I am talking about. How do I get them to use my product once!

How Do I Help?#

Well, I haven’t really thought much about it, but I have two small WP local agencies on a retention. Where they have hired me as a consultant to help them grow. More often than not, I come in where they want advice about WordPress security when they are thinking about adding a 3rd party plugin to a client’s side when they expect me to evaluate their new business idea about a WordPress startup.

Invest in the Copy!#

This is a very common problem that I see at almost every single new WP startup. What happens is a developer or two, partner up, short on the funds and being frugal they seldom invest in the copy (i.e. the sales pitch of a product, or whatever is written on the landing page) on their website. Which comes back to bite them in the ass more often than they even realize.

Whatever Happened to Content for HUMANS?#

Most of the copy that I read in case of new WP businesses, I find it to be written by one developer for another developer. Mostly, though, the products being sold are for an average WordPress “User”. Do you realize what I just said? Let it sink in for a minute.

You should speak to the HUMANS instead of robots. You should write the copy of your web product as if potential clients of yours are sitting right next to you, and do NOT even have an idea if they want to buy your product or not. Add to it the short attention spans people have when they are browsing web and you are left with hardly 6 to 9 seconds for grabbing their attention.

So, if in these 9 seconds you are talking gibberish, no would even care how beautiful or useful your product is.

Do You Know Your Product?#

The thing is that you have a very thorough idea of what you have built. You were there when the product you have was just an idea. You were also there when you had to research and change the direction of how you were going to stand out of the crowd by not competing with others for a niche or for doing something that everyone hates. But do you actually know what your product is for an ideal customer?

The Avatar Theory#

I like this one, I really do. So, the Avatar theory of relevance is creating a perfect user in your mind that would need your product. Create a complete character, his needs, what would he need, why would he buy your product, the new feature you are so excited about, will that help him? (and save yourself from feature-creep — but that’s an article for another day).

Explain The Value#

You know your product, you have a perfect avatar that would need your product, now you need to explain the value that your product adds and not the features that it has. That’s all it takes. Stop explaining the features of your product like you are talking to other developers (unless your target audience is developers). Stop talking to robots where everything you say is a computer terminology.

More on That later…#

I have already written a long blog post; it’s about to touch 1500 words. I think it’s enough for today. I have told you about what I am talking about; you know the problem now, or what I think is the problem, you also know how to solve it. Give it a try. Talk to HUMANS and not robots. Talk value and not features.

And btw if you are interested in talking to me, let’s set up a call at Clarity to discuss if what you’re building next for the WordPress CMS would work or not. Cya!

Founder & CEO at Langbase.com · Ex VP DevRel Rapid · Google Developers Advisory Board (gDAB) founding member. 🧑‍💻 AI/ML/DevTools Angel InvestorAI/ML Advisory Board member San Francisco, DevNetwork

🎩 Award-winning Open Source Engineer & Dev Advocate 🦊 Google Developers Expert Web DevRel 🚀 NASA Mars Ingenuity Helicopter mission code contributor 🏆 8th GitHub Stars Award recipient with 3x GitHub Stars Award (Listed as GitHub's #1 JavaScript trending developer).

🌳 Node.js foundation Community Committee Outreach Lead, Member Linux Foundation, OpenAPI Business Governing Board, and DigitalOcean Navigator. 📟 Teaching thousands of developers Node.js CLI Automation (100 videos · 22 Projects) & VSCode.pro course. Over 142 Million views, 22 yrs Blogging, 56K developers learning, 200+ FOSS.

✌️ Author of various open-source dev-tools and software libraries utilized by millions of developers worldwide WordPress Core Developer 📣 TEDx Speaker with 100+ international talks.

As quoted by: Satya Nadella · CEO of Microsoft — Awais is an awesome example for developers.
🙌 Leading developers and publishing technical content for over a decade 💜 Loves his wife (Maedah) ❯ Read more about Ahmad Awais.

👋… Awais is mostly active on Twitter @MrAhmadAwais


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