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A Blues soundtrack plays in a purple-lit room, while a cat wearing a moustache takes up residence in the screen in front of me – which can only mean one thing: it’s Digital Shoreditch.

Men and women circulate Shoreditch Town Hall with their heads down, engrossed in their phones as they seek out the next speaker and/or tweet highlights of the day so far – but me? I sit and wait patiently for the first content session of the day.

Only to be told that it’s been cancelled and we’ve been given a lightning talk instead.

So as I fidget and wait impatiently, fortunately a speaker arrives – Executive Creative Director of Collider, Del Manning. With just 10 minutes to enlighten the room about the wonders of ‘Kickstarting Creativity – 6 stages to launch’, he captivates the audience’s attention by highlighting his ‘From launch to love’ process:
1. Define success early
2. Know your audience
3. Using both in and out-of-the-box thinking – utilising not just the creative team, but enlisting the help of focus groups/different departments
4. Develop a narrative – this allows you to narrow down your ideas to ensure they’re easy to understand
5. Execution – it’s all about getting your audience engaged in the long term, and not just at the beginning of a campaign
6. Stay in print.

He then moves on to the importance of devising a ‘truth’ square – comprising the four following values:

Truth square

This process contributed to the successful execution of Epson’s wearable technology launch – the new ‘Sensewear’ GPS running watch and heart-rate wristband. Collider’s integrated campaign consisted of promotional videos, print display ads, PR photography, social media content and stand designs for launch events in Berlin, London and Paris.
It was important to come up with a catchy slogan that demonstrated the benefits of both the wearable technology as well as the wearer – which is how Collider came up with the hashtag #DareYourself. This proved to be hugely successful as a result of the ‘From launch to love’ process, with Manning leaving his audience with these key takeaways:>/p>
• Be creative without words
• Don’t be afraid to mix and match your content
• Always compare and contrast your ideas and designs
Repetition and accumulation are great techniques in learning from a campaign’s success
Exaggerate your values
Turn it around so you know what to practise in future projects

With the first session over, it was now time to head to my favourite session of the day:

Content Strategies for uncool clients

An intriguing title to complement an intriguing session – which for a copywriter, was a no-brainer: I HAD to attend. Chairman of Sticky Content, Catherine Toole, gave an introduction on how she got started in copywriting, her favourite client (industrial fans, just in case you were wondering) and some brilliant tips and tricks of the industry.

While the copywriting business can see clients requesting edgy content for fun concepts, what about the more ‘uncool’ clients such as financial services and solutions providers? Unfortunately due to governance and compliance, sometimes content in this particular sector ends up being safe as opposed to sharable. “How does it end up that so much of what we do is all a bit…meh?” asks Catherine. “It’s not like you’re going to frame your landing page in the downstairs loo or enter it in for an award – but why is that?”

According to Catherine, there are three key elements that ‘feed’ boring:

How much? Lack of budget, time and resource
The (25th) amendment. Opposite of the Fifth Amendment (the right of silence) – content gets passed around for feedback and amendments, but due to the amount of stakeholders wanting in on the copy process, the original content eventually becomes diluted
Rolling it out. Stretching the content project to the point where weeks or even months have passed where it’s becoming harder to generate good ideas and get stuff signed off

Her remedy? These six steps in shaking content up:

1. Old ideas, new format. If you can’t change the subject matter, change the format. Use an unexpected format like a cartoon strip – this is particularly helpful when it’s ‘dry’ material. Consider the use of colourful tables, infographics, a game, or high quality editorial content – such as turning your subject matter into a debate by listing pros and cons. One example that really pushed the boat out in terms of a new format was NatWest’s advert for Mother’s Day in the form of this receipt:

NatWest receipt

2. LOL. Humour can be risky which is why it must be done carefully, but can be extremely successful when used in social media. The key is to not write in cheeky prose (e.g. puns), but rather, shareable humorous content ideas:


3. Sweat the small stuff. Copy optimisation is imperative – recognise the importance of short-form copywriting. Facebook is a good example of changing small things for a big impact, such as the time the section was rewritten from ‘Become A Fan’ to ‘Like’. Another example is Experian’s security details section where instead of requesting the memorable word, it asks you for two letters of your combination (e.g. second letter and last letter). Containing tasks is also helpful (how long an application should take, reading time):

Reading time

Another way to stop people dropping off your content is UX copywriting, where Twitter recognises how difficult it is to choose your username – so offers the option for users to change it later on:


4. Say the one thing everyone else is thinking. Be disruptive – say the stuff that no one else is brave enough to say. For instance, the one thing people are not thinking about is that Scottish Life loves pensions:

Scottish Life

It’s about what THEY think or what THEY believe – but what about customers? One test to prove the value of your content is to take a landing page and see how many times a brand talks about itself versus how many times it talks about the customer (run the yellow/red test – highlight business in yellow and highlight customer in red):

Yellow/red test

If you can say the one thing that everyone else is thinking, you’ll successfully get people on your side:

Crayola and Ikea

5. Give the punters what they want. Many people won’t admit what they don’t know, so solve this problem by offering a simple solution and listing it in an easy form:

Hargreaves Lansdown

Alternatively, be brave – instead of people leaving your site, convince them to stay with competitive information:


Don’t try to be ‘punny’ – apply control versus treatment. Give people what they want, not what you think they want:

Fitness World

6. Build the case for risk. The more you act like a publisher and streamline your content strategy, the more you can build a convincing case to take risks and create ‘brave’ content. Fix the problems within your signoff process (e.g. the number of stakeholders involved), and eliminate any factors that hinder the editorial team. Once you’ve succeeded, then you can try risky content such as CISCO:

Were you at Digital Shoreditch? What other tricks of the trade can you recommend for those in digital marketing? Feedback your tips in the comments box below!