To convince people to do something, you must first let them convince themselves that it is in their interest to do so.
Consider the first paragraph on Python.org:
Python is a programming language that lets you work more quickly and integrate your systems more effectively. You can learn to use Python and see almost immediate gains in productivity and lower maintenance costs.
If your concern is "getting stuff done" and "not painting yourself into a corner", all "in time and under budget", that's compelling.
Compare that to the first paragraph on Perl.org:
Perl 5 is a highly capable, feature-rich programming language with over 23 years of development.
That's an improvement over the old perl.org, but the Python text is more compelling.
(I'm open to the idea of adding good summary marketing text to the Perl.com homepage, but the entire site needs a theme overhaul. Anyone with Movable Type/Melody theming experience and some free time is more than welcome.)
When I wear my business hat, I usually do the copywriting for my businesses. This means the back cover copy and press release text and website blurbs for Onyx Neon books. This means the sales and marketing pages for Club Compy (site revision pending my business partner's new fatherhood of twins). This means even slogans and taglines such as find the right price for stocks.
I know techies have a visceral reaction to the idea of "marketing" whereby we pretend to be shocked, stunned, and even offended that money might change hands. Filthy lucre! The immolation of Croesus! How dare you suggest that people talk about what's important to them, you lousy spammer?
Perl has some huge advantages over other languages. Not every advantage is entirely exclusive, but if you were to start a new project in Perl today because one or more of these advantages were important to you, reasonable people would understand:
- Perl is ubiquitous. It runs everywhere.
- Perl is stable. Well-written programs will continue to run with little intervention.
- Perl has a huge ecosystem in the CPAN. Most of your work is already done for you—freely usable, modifiable, and well tested.
- Perl scales with your problems. It's suitable for small, quick programs as well as powerful, big-business programs.
- Perl is flexible. It lets you do what you need to do and stays out of your way.
- Perl is reliable. It has a huge test suite, a regular release cycle, and copious documentation.
- Perl is easy to learn. (I wrote and give away and have committed to producing yearly revisions of Modern Perl: The Book to make this bullet point.)
- Perl helps you create great software, with plenty of wonderful tools and libraries ready to help. (This is where Task::Kensho, Moose, Perl::Critic, Test::More, et cetera come in. Note carefully the place within the list.)
It's easy to extend this list to get more specific when the situation demands (though we tend to get too specific too fast; Catalyst isn't necessarily interesting to someone who really wants Bioperl, while DBIx::Class has little obvious value to a harried system administrator). It's nice to have a good place to start, though. Python has it right in two sentences. Perl needs a short blurb at least that good.
(Remember to keep in mind that the goal is to help people convince themselves that Perl will solve their problems—or help them realize that it's not what they need, while still reinforcing the image of Perl we want to express.)