On the Marketing Cloudcast this week, we’ll look at how you can use copywriting to creatively break boundaries while building a brand. We talk to Pres Maxson and Ryan Felton, our lead copywriters at Salesforce, to learn about voice, tone, guidelines, messaging, collaborating on integrated teams, and working with feedback.
Tune into the full conversation and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Reach out and let us know if you have an interesting topic for the Marketing Cloudcast.
Here are some highlights from the episode.
Look, cranking out quality content day in and day out is tricky, especially when you have to fit into brand guidelines and maintain voice and tone, all while keeping it creative and fresh. For Pres, that means finding a way to take some time for himself: “In order to keep writing interesting and in order to keep writing compelling for me personally, I have to spend some time doing it without any of the restrictions that come with writing on a team, writing for a brand, that kind of stuff.”
Passion is a huge part of building a brand because it gives you a chance to add that human element that makes copy engaging. One of Ryan’s favorite projects was creating the Trailblazers of Email Anthology — a spin on folklore characters like Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed — who could move mountains and lasso tornados. He refers to it as “The Email Legends” project. The campaign bases these tall tales on real stories of marketing Trailblazers using Email Studio to do amazing things for their business. Pres was impressed with how it managed to be both inventive and on-message: “It’s an interesting case study in how to take brand guidelines and make them really fun without sounding like a totally different company.”
“No matter the medium, first, you have to be interesting or else no one's going to read it,” Pres says, “and second, you have to be clear.” You need to make your writing as concise as possible before you even think about being clever.
For Ryan, it’s about knowing the rules before you try to break them: “Get very familiar with the brand guidelines, know them inside and out, and do a lot of work completely within those brand guidelines.” Once you’ve mastered working within that context with control and style you can start to expand what you’re doing.
Pres has a lot of experience working with teams through acquisitions, and he’s seen what helps people succeed and where it’s sometimes hard for them to adapt to change. “In general, as a professional creative, you can't get personally attached to the product that you're creating — in our case, writing. I think it's definitely okay to be proud of the finished product, but if you start getting attached to a certain voice or a certain tone or where commas go and how many exclamation points are used, then you're probably going to find yourself getting more frustrated with feedback, especially with mergers.”
Taking feedback well is especially important because you need to be able to adjust what you’re doing to make it work with the team. While it’s important to be passionate about your ideas, you also need to remember that the team is there to make it better. As Ryan points out, “I can't think of a time where there was something that I thought was important or that I had an urge to fight for, where in hindsight I looked back and thought, ‘This would've been so much better if I just won that battle.’”
Ryan and Pres spend all day thinking and writing about marketing Trailblazers, so what have they noticed that ties them together? For Ryan, it’s all about positivity: “I’ve never heard, ‘Oh my God! How are we going to pull this off?’ come out of the mouth of anyone who's done really cool things in this industry or the other industries that we talk about as a company.” Trailblazers have the ability to look beyond perceived limitations and use their passion to drive innovation, creativity, and change.
For Pres, more than anything, Trailblazers are focused on the future. It’s not that they’re not proud of what they’ve done; it’s that they don’t rest on their laurels. They’re always looking around the corner to find out what’s next. Their curiosity and drive let them pull off things that others wouldn’t think were possible. “Trailblazers ask the right questions to find out how to do it.”
Speaking of Trailblazers … we’re hosting Salesforce Connections in Chicago on June 12–14. Join us for three days of learning and transformation. Get inspired by Trailblazers who are driving innovations in digital marketing, commerce, and service across all industries.