Billy Gill
3 min read

The Copywriting Conference: Our Key Takeaways

On October 11th, Nathan and I got up bright and early and met outside Caffè Nero. We would have met inside but, alas, it was shut. To be fair, it was still 6:20 and, anyway, we had a train to catch. We were off to the The Copywriting Conference – a one-day session dedicated to all things commercial writing!

The day was packed with some fantastic speakers, all of whom had a lot to say, so I’ll do my best to whittle their wisdom down to the essentials.

If you don’t know what to say to customers, listen to them instead

The first talk of the day was given by Joanna Wiebe, a conversion copy expert. Among other things, Joanna was interested in VOC data (or voice of customer data, for the uninitiated).

The idea was simple: the most disruptive hooks come from customers, not marketers. They don’t come out fully formed of course – that’s where we come in. Our job is to find an opinion that’s sticky, be it from a review, a survey or comment on social media, and make it even stickier.

Flaunt your flaws

As copywriters, our default mode is to sell. We want to make our clients’ products and services look good, so we should focus solely on the positives, right? Well, not necessarily. 

Richard Shotton, author of The Choice Factory and behavioural science whiz, invited us to consider the Pratfall effect. If we perceive an individual or group to be highly competent, we’re more likely to admire them if they commit a blunder. 

The application this has to marketing is clear: if a brand or company is willing to exhibit a flaw, we’re far more likely to trust their communications. Nobody’s perfect, not even our favourite brands.

No one wants to read your copy

Just kidding, of course they do. But they don’t want to read all of it. Laura Parker, a highly-successful freelance UX writer, informed us that a user’s eyes miss around 30% of text on a page. However, this is less about boredom or impatience, and more about efficiency; some words are used so frequently, our brains can expend little to no energy processing them.

This isn’t a bad thing – in fact, we should encourage it. The easier we make it for users to read our copy, the more likely they’ll click that CTA.

There were plenty more gems dropped on the day, and Nathan and I would like to thank all of the speakers for sharing them with us. Next year’s event will be a two-day affair – I’m already excited!


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