35 lessons from #CopyCon20

Alice Hollis

Alice Hollis Ltd. - More than words®

In just 5 minutes you can learn 35 things from #CopyCon20 without losing a day’s work attending the event.

CopyCon is perhaps the most important date in every professional copywriter’s diary. With its impressive speaker line up and the opportunity to network with our peers, the day promises to be the ultimate fun, learning experience.

I’ll admit, when I heard the event was moving online this year, I worried about how it would work and whether I’d see the value from previous years.

The reality?

I think I enjoyed it more! I eliminated the awful early morning commute into London, pressed up against some random’s sweaty armpit on the Tube and I was home in time to read my boys their bedtime stories.

And I spent the entire day wrapped in a blanket in the comfort of my office, safe in the knowledge there was no way I’d run out of stationery!

But you don’t care about that – you’re just here for the good stuff! So here it is, 35 lessons from #CopyCon20:

The harsh reality

  1. People can’t process any more than 7 bits of information (+/- 2) so focus on minimalism, which brings more impact and authority.
  2. If you’re lucky, your audience will read about 30% of what you’ve written, so get the important points in first.
  3. Your prospects evaluate your offering based on a feeling of how it speaks to their need.

And the lessons that seemed to really upset some copywriters in the room

  1. Your copy doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be good enough.
  2. Copywriting isn’t poetry – think of content as another form of sales.
  3. When your prospect doesn’t do what you tell them to do, as a copywriter it’s always your fault.
  4. If you’ve said what you need to say, agonising over the way it’s written and re-writing it for the sake of better language adds no additional value and won’t pay off.
  5. The most brilliant copy will be destroyed without design
  6. To convert the audience, 50% is what you write, 30% is down to the layout and 20% is about the images used.

You have permission to sell!

  1. Don’t be afraid to talk about your product/service – be proud of it and own it.

Ideas to think about when planning your content

  1. Nothing is perfect so stop aiming for it. Instead, aim for ‘good’ and enjoy the journey.
  2. Get to know your target audience by understanding:
  • their profile (think demographics)
  • their awareness stage
  • the criteria they use to make decisions
  • their objections
  1. Goal, pain and gain = value proposition
  2. To create a strong value proposition:
  • ask questions
  • know your customer journey
  • question, “So what?”
  1. Template – to create your value proposition, fill in the blanks:

‘Our [PRODUCT/SERVICE] help(s) [CUSTOMER SEGMENT(S)] who want to [GOAL] by [VERB] [PAIN – friction that blocks them] and [VERB] [GAIN – how your company helps them].’

  1. Use your brand personality to attract the right people and repel the wrong ones – ‘your weird is their weird’!
  2. When talking to a client/stakeholder about the product/service/brand/company, capture the language they use to describe this and insert it into your messaging.
  3. It’s really hard to produce copy for a product you don’t believe in, so keep asking questions until you uncover what makes it special and why it exists in the first place.
  4. In every interaction we have, we’re telling a story – so know your intention.
  5. Use fascinations – short sentences designed to create intense curiosity.
  6. Template Create curiosity with ‘If…then…’ statements:
  • if…: tease the value.
  • then…: embellish the benefit.

Techniques to keep in mind when writing

  1. Make your copy simple, standout and easy to understand.
  2. Write like you speak.
  3. Microcopy is the glue that holds everything together.
  4. Close the feedback loop with good error messaging – state the error, explain it and then show them how to overcome it.
  5. Don’t cram too many ideas into one sentence – keep it clear, clean and simple.
  6. Unnecessary copy is a distraction – delete it.
  7. Using long and complex words doesn’t make you sound smarter.
  8. Make an impression within intense verbiage, for example, ‘kill’.
  9. It’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities of a feature – strip it back and keep it clear.
  10. Use headings to convey key messages, this makes skim reading easier.
  11. Rather than focus on word count, ensure that every point made adds value to the audience.
  12. We instantly recognise hyperlinked text as an action, so think about using this more to encourage conversions.
  13. Curiosity is one of the best ways to encourage action.

Ideas to try once you’ve created a first draft

  1. Evaluate your copy quickly by listening to your gut reaction. When you ready your copy aloud, does it make you go:
  • “Huh?” Indicates your copy contains jargon, is too vague or too wordy.
  • “Prove it!” Indicates your copy contains unfound claims or exaggerations.
  • “So what?” Indicates your copy contains irrelevant information or lacks certain benefits.
  1. Never believe everything people tell you – test everything!

Thank you!

CopyCon is organised by the lovely team at ProCopywriters. Thank you so much for hosting another incredible event and huge thanks to all the speakers that made it so inspiring.

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