Play Copy: 12 tips to write better content for your brand
Maria Silvia Sanna
Pen on one hand, smartphone on the other: this Saturday at Play Copy we tweeted and took notes at a double speed, trying to grab the best tips and tricks from some expert Italian copywriters and content marketers. While Gennaro, Andrea, and Beatrice were at our desk, showing WordLift to those who write for a living, I was in the classroom, learning some good advice from this big conference. In this post, you’ll find some key takeaways about copywriting, plus one bonus tip.
We are really proud of having sponsored this inspiring, rich, funny event. Our biggest thanks goes to Pennamontata for planning Play Copy! I hope reading this post you’ll feel like you were there at the Spazio Talent Garden just like us.
LESSON ONE: STORYTELLING
Social media manager at LAV, the most important non-profit organization in Italy which defends the rights of all animals, Carlotta showed us her point of view on storytelling and then delighted all the copywriters in the room with the touching but still funny story of a big family of macaques, #imagnifici16.
Some lessons that we’ve learned with Carlotta:
- In storytelling, emotions are the key to the heart of your public: anger, joy, sadness, wonder.. there is a wide range of feelings that we can use to touch people. Choosing an emotional key is the first step to catching your target attention.
- Never – ever! – forget your target: try to create a connection between humans, because – in the end – whether if you’re trying to connect for business or non-profit reasons, it’s all about building relationships which bind people to your story.
- You can animate people to stand up by your side even with some humor: you don’t need to use pain and sadness all the time. Sometimes a laugher is the strongest way to your target heart.
LESSON TWO: CRISIS MANAGEMENT
Copywriter and mom of Pennamontata, the agency that organized Play Copy, Valentina helped us to understand the difference between a not-so-relevant banana peel and a real crisis. While banana peels make you fall but don’t hurt so much your business, actual crisis are like shitstorms which affect your brand reputation and – even worse! – your revenues.
Which is the right way to face a crisis?
- Don’t minimize: see your problem for what it really is, because playing it down will not help you to keep the score.
- Take your responsibility: be true, and admit your mistakes. If you’re able to be honest with that, you can handle your motivations and proof your real intentions.
- Apologize: sorry may be the hardest word to say, but it will help you to raise your head up. Don’t be an ostrich!
- Empathize: try to understand the heart of the matter. It may be some deep and hidden value that you’ve hit unwittingly.
- Keep your promises: respect your values and keep your promises to fix the issue.
LESSON THREE: SIMPLIFY YOUR TEXT
When Leonardo Luccone, Director at Oblique Studio, steps in the classroom every typo starts to shake. Mordacious and immediate, Leonardo gave us the best advice to write a better business profile: simplicity is elegance.
Then, quoting Flaubert, he said that since words matter, there is no reason to describe ourselves with words that belong to someone else. His point was: in a world that seems crowded with people with a similar educational and professional background, the only way to stand out of the crowd is to highlight your individual characteristics and passions.
LESSON FOUR: WRITE GOOD BUSINESS E-MAILS
Sometimes, you just need ten minutes to nurture your relations – and your business – in the right way. Annamaria Anelli focused on those e-mails you need to write in uncomfortable situations, such as replying to an important message while you are out of office, apologizing for a late reply or saying no to a potential new client because you are too busy.
Here are some good tips that you can also apply to other uncomfortable communications:
- But sounds like a bad word: try to reverse its role in the phrase putting the bad news before it and the good one after. The phrase will end with a good message, that will stay up in your reader’s mind.
- Use the kiss-kick-kiss technique: put a bad news between two nice ones to make its effect a little softer.
- Be simple, concrete, personal: talk to your reader referring to his/her real case and suggest something to do next.
LESSON FIVE: MEASURE YOUR STORY
How can you talk about numbers, data, and metrics with those who write for a living? A hard challenge, but Paolo Zanzottera, board member of ShinyStats and co-founder of Appocrate, managed it with talking clearly and walking miles and miles on the carpet under its feet.
There were two important lessons in its talk:
- Content is not king. You need to exchange it with a triumvirate: design, content, and distribution.
- Buyers personas should resemble as much as possible to actual customers with all their imperfections, day-by-day struggles, hard times and so on.
LESSON SIX: BUILD AN EDITORIAL PLAN
Social media manager at BPER Banca, Valentina Fiorillo tells us how to create an editorial plan for LinkedIn; she shares the stage with Valentina Falcinelli, who worked on the strategy.
Lesson learned: you can always use simple words, even if you are a bank!
LESSON SEVEN: THE IRONIC WAY TO SAY IT
The mind behind Mentine, Nicola Bonora, has a lot to say about irony: when he shows up, most of the public laughs. Though, he said, “irony is a serious thing“. When you use an ironic statement you are building with your public an understanding based on smartness and on a common cultural background. And, in fact, he trained us with some examples and exercises to prove that irony is a combination of technique, culture, and creativity. To practice irony you can do these three things:
- Start with what you know best: yourself. Using self-irony also helps you see yourself from a different perspective.
- Build an apparent incongruity: use a contradiction that actually brings a deeper meaning.
- Practice on puzzle solving to improve your lateral thinking.
LESSON EIGHT: KEEP THE MAGIC GOING
Magician and motivational coach, Walter left all the classroom breathless with its inspired talk. His main advice? Believe in you giving yourself the chance to go for the things you really want.
LESSON NINE: FICTIONAL NEWS AND JOKES
Alfonso Biondi, one of the most sarcastic writers of Lercio, a well-known Italian journal of fictional news, helped us understand the difference between fictional news and fake ones and shared with us some good tips to write jokes that work.
According to Alfonso…
- Fictional news are built on a paradox and bring a message. While fake news are written to be confused with real ones, fictional news will surprise you opening a new level of meaning.
- In classic jokes the assumption is true, while in fictional news you sometimes don’t have any assumptions or you have a false one.
- Rhythm matters: the surprise, which makes you laugh, should be at the end of a joke. It has to blow your mind away, literally!
LESSON TEN: BRANDING AND COPYWRITING
The branding expert Carlotta Silvestrini talks about what words can do for brands. What is the relation between branding and copywriting? For Carlotta, finding the right words means leveraging on values that say something unique about the brand. It’s not a case that her number one rule is:
“Read again your copy. If it works for one of your competitors, it’s not good for you.”
LESSON ELEVEN: STAY WITH YOUR SIMILARS
The founders of Associazione Italiana Copywriter, the national copywriters association, showed us the good reasons why copywriters should stand together for their rights. Word Power!
LESSON ELEVEN: WRITE AS YOU LIVE
Once copywriter, then novelist, now scent maker, Sarah McCartney has a lot of inspiring experience to share. Her rules smell good like her scents, because she deeply understands writing as a consequence of deeply understanding humans.
- Be kind: make your text easy for your readers. There is no need for difficult words when you can use simpler ones. And keep your punctuation perfectly clean to make your phrases more understandable.
- Understand your reader: nobody likes to be treated like a demographic data. Be real, and think about the real life of the persons you are going to meet with your words.
- Give a soul to your words: if yours doesn’t fit the case, borrow the one of someone you know.
LESSON TWELVE: ORGANIZE YOUR CONTENT
If you get to this point through this long article, you have to be really interested in copywriting… so, we think that you’ll love this final tip from us. We are not focused on writing, but we think that you should… and we can stay by your side! We know your struggle when you write for blogs and websites and you are supposed to follow a lot of SEO rules, which distract you from your job. Also, we know how much time you spend on looking for images on the web and trying to connect your content with each other.
Here is why we guess you’ll love these things we can do for you:
- Support your stories with images and contextual facts
- Grow your traffic without freaking you out with SEO rules
- Invite your readers to live a long experience on your website
Wanna learn more? See how it works here.