Author: Maria Angella Capasso

Let’s start for the very beginning: who belongs this blog to? I am Maria Angella Capasso, known by friends, relatives and lovers as Angella. Because of a serendipitous afternoon, I decided to jump from Sociology and Social Science Methodology to Digital Marketing. So now I am studying a MSc in Digital Marketing in Scotland. So why not to combine digital skills with one of the best ‘things’ I am good at such as reading complicated books, AKA non - fiction books?
Looking back your childhood.

Looking back your childhood.

Nonfiction book review in Psychology

How to develop emotional Health. By Oliver James.
MacMillan, 2014. Pp. 141. £10.00. ISBN 978-0-230-77171-0

Nonfiction book review in Psychology
Childhood determines the degrees of emotional health

How can we face the complex process of adult life? How can we live the present and learn from our own actions? Or most importantly, how can we understand our emotions? Such questions could be sorted by reading Oliver James’ book: How to develop emotional health, useful tool to sort our vague “black box”.  Oliver James is a clinical psychologist and author of several titles related to his professional background.

Emotional health and the present. Emotional health has to do with living the present, the ability to get insights from our own individual actions, allowing us to get more information about ourselves. From time to time, we experience all kind of “negative emotions”, that is depression, rages, phobias and so on, but as matter of emotional health, we can overcome them and still have the “value of our existence” (p. 2). Most importantly, James states that nobody has a fully emotional health in this way. However, it doesn’t make impossible to achieve it.

The childhood matters. Achieving a decent level of emotional health is simple. It is just to look back your childhood story and watch how parental care was. Surprised? Yes, that is exactly what the book says. By using his own clinical experience to exemplify different degrees of emotional health, James pictures the features of a common emotionality – how we react in front of complex scenarios, it is proportional related to the circumstances we grew up when we were toddler. In simple terms, how our parents took care of us determine pretty much how our actual emotional health is. A starting point would be to understand our parental education. Yet, it is not about to criticize dad and mum, but to get a better picture of how our childhood was. This is the central point of the book, reason of which why another title would be much better. Readers cannot expect steps, or so much practical exercises, but a simple explanation about why our domestic development is important to picture deeply why we are in the emotional way we are.

Whatever the reason is, this book is a good starting point to understand the origins of our actual emotional health. This book will give the readers the theory and few exercises to make big changes in how we can see the world differently and be more joyful, but do not expect steps and recipes.

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A copywriting week for marketers

A copywriting week for marketers

Nonfiction book review in marketing

 

Copywriting in a week. By Robert Ashton.
John Murray Learning, 2016. Pp. 124. £7.00. ISBN 978 1473 609419

Techniques to improve advertising copies

If you are a (digital) copywriter and you need to improve your style and technique but you don’t have enough time (and budget), you will find this book easy to read and follow. In only seven chapters, which match with an ordinary week, Robert Ashton exposures all the elements that a good (persuasive) copy should have, in particular for whom are in the (digital) marketing sector.

It’s Sunday. What does Robert bring us today? The reader will learn how to make the copy effective. In here, the rule is: know (making the audience aware of your specific message), think (what they need to think) and do (purely and merely call to action). On a comfy Sunday, readers will learn how to make the copy a pleasurable reading, how to capture audience’s attention (call to action, again). After clarifying the goals of the copy, Ashton will teach us the structure of the copy, jargons and what they mean. The day closes on how to hook the reader through some words selected.

Now, we are on Monday. In an unusual Monday, Ashton shows us how people read, because it will be important when preparing the layout of the piece of copy. The author will make us to be focused on the features of the copy (from the texture to the visual elements of it). Also, he introduces the techniques to influence the readers on by visual ways to present the piece of copy. For who wants to write copies for branding projects, the ending of this part is essential as the author conveys the techniques to make words memorable.

Finally, Tuesday. This chapter is about email and written letters. Starting from differences between them, Ashton explains when it is appropriate to write business letters; how to combine familiarity with formality and how it is possible to build business relationships by using written letters. No more, no less.

Just in the middle: Wednesday. Ashton conveys the techniques to stimulate responses by creating copies for advertising. Although you ‘know about your personas’, it is important to be careful about the copy you will advertise. Therefore, guidelines are focused on persuasive actions, because we really don’t know who they are. Also, the author tells us about types and language of advertising, and most importantly, for beginners, how to construct effective display advertising, including posters.

Almost there: Thursday. Ashton talks about how to deal with mass media. He teaches us on how to build relationship with journalists, how material is selected by them, how to become media commentator and how to become a good one. By the end of the chapter, a good reminder has been taught: blog is not the space to advertise, but to comment.

Glorious Friday. In here, Ashton tells us how to write piece of copy for promotional print (leaflets, brochures, catalogues, etc). In addition, he opens the world of the print copies to show how it works. Yet, in the customization era, Ashton teaches us how to personalize a promotional copy: simply, as if it is a cover letter and how to generate a response.

And before the night comes: Saturday. The end of the book is simply as it is how to structure a proposal, as a final step just after having done sales letters and brochures. Moreover, it is important for a copywriter how to present sales proposal and how to use PowerPoint for a copy. Nonetheless, the author closes the chapter talking about how to create signage, by using humour.

In one week, readers/pupils will have a clear picture about the art of building copies and how to be persuasive through words. However, in the digital era, where every detail is shown in a small touchable screen, is there a room for words?

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The Past, the present and future of branding.

The Past, the present and future of branding.

Nonfiction book review in marketing

Branding. A very Short Story. By Robert Jones
Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp 136. £7.00. ISBN 978 – 0 – 19 – 874991 – 2

brand
Could we live without our brands?

Could it be possible to think our lives without the brands we consume every day? While deciding what to wear for the company’s Christmas party or what device to buy, brands impact on our choices. This is type of information readers will find on Robert Jones’ book: Branding: A very short story. The book is a bite of what brand was, is and will be in the near future.

Robert Jones is a marketing consultant, a practitioner. He has worked for big firms in different industries. His book, Branding A very short story, is a solid and reliable summary of knowledge and experience in the field. Jones uses the exemplification to convey main ideas about how brands work in a daily basis and behind the scene.

In eight chapters. Jones exposes explicit and implicit characteristics of the most famous brands in the global market. The first chapter conveys the definition of brand: it is more than a simple idea. It is images, colours, letters, packages that connect and engage with us in some many ways. More impressive is the argument about how brands determine our identities and perceptions: “They use brands to help construct their identity, their sense of who they are.” (p. 12). Yet, brand is deeper than appearance because it is a set of actionable ideas, with a remarkable style, on which companies ‘stand for’.

On history of brands. The subsequent chapter, Jones lands on the history of branding. It was born since the humans have created distinctive symbols, for instance Egyptian and Romans with their symbols to identify dynasties or status into a tribe. Yet, the nineteenth century was the period in which the boom of production serves itself through branding, by generating meanings to engage with people.

From the pas to the present. The present of brands and branding consist in how it gets into people’s mind. Slightly, Jones uses the findings from neuromarketing research to picture how brands engage with people. Also, he highlights the limitations of such findings to explain motivational engagement which does not have yet empirical evidence.

The rest of the chapters. Like a funnel, the rest of the chapters review exhaustively the present of the brandings nowadays. Jones tells us about how brands are built in structured organisations, or how artists are committed to develop brand image, or how organisations recruit the best experts in to produce meanings and remarkable signs.

Finally, Jones concludes the book by going into the future of branding: Will it be alive after all? The end appears as a matter of reassurance for marketers: “Branding, in other words, will live on”.

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Finding love, only for single marketers

Finding love, only for single marketers

Nonfiction book review in Psychology

How to find Love
By School of Life, 2017. Pp. 80. £10.00 ISBN 978-0-9955736-9-7

School of Life is a global organisation dedicated to develop emotional intelligence. The staff’s backgrounds are in Philosophy and Psychology. The organisation’s idea is simple: they use their knowledge in these fields to expose different ways to see the same world.

How to find love is a promising book for who is looking some guidance in this ‘forever mystery territory’. The book is eighty pages about what instincts are not the best counsellors and what thoughts we should hold while searching for the ‘right one’. Contrary to a self – help manual, the book is a psychological approach about how to choose the partner, with a little explanation about where the idea of love comes from.

The origin of love. It comes from: Romanticism. The book points out how Western societies have taught us about what love is and how to choose our partners. Explicitly, we choose using three instincts: completion – the missing qualities on us but present in our partners or potential lovers; endorsement – the ability of other to understand what it is happening inside us, and familiarity – the parental qualities we see in others or we reject.

The game of instincts. The second part of the book reveals how those three instincts impact on our relationships or our searching for love. Particular attention is given to the instinct of familiarity as it addresses the readers to two essential concepts: repetition dynamic and recoil dynamic. The first one point out how we have experienced the parental love, while  the second one point out the fact that we are in love with whom is different from our parents.

Here is the problem. The book reveals how these instincts play against the own self – improvement, self – knowledge of feelings, emotions and communication with our partners or potential lovers, troubling the opportunities of fulfilment. Also, it reveals how an instinct of familiarity makes us to choose the ‘wrong one’.

But there is a solution. No doubts that every issue has a simple solution. We can get the benefits from these instincts, instead to reject them. The tactics is not to go against them or changes the partner, or change the types or remove them from our complex nature. It is about how to use them in favour of us, to enhance our abilities, make the relationship more pleasurable and look at others as emotional opportunities to grow up.

The book does not pretend to be a self – help guide or manual to find love. The pretensions are more modest than that. It offers another perspective from which we can experience our ordinary lives. In particular for singletons, the book is a promise of mature love research, a “place” where the real cards are on the table. It explains to us the searching of love starts looking at our inner complex self, why we should give chances to others and allow them to show us their hilarious qualities. Moreover, how foolish we could, and must be, in front of our potential lovers.

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Shh. Don’t tell how to make people talk about your brand

Shh. Don’t tell how to make people talk about your brand

Nonfiction book review in marketing

Contagious. How to build word of mouth in the digital age
By Jonah Berger / Simon & Schuster UK LTD, 2014. P. 244. £11.00 ISBN: 978-1-47111-170-9

From Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, John Berger has been investigating how products, services, brands and ideas can be at the centre of people’s conversation. It is the word-of-mouth, a marketing technique to make people to talk about a brand, a restaurant, a product. Contagious is one of Berger’s books, which stand for this technique and how it will impact on any company’s profitability.

On the menu. Berger launches his STEPPS model from which word – of – mouth is all about. It stands for social currency, trigger, emotion, public, practical value and story. By bringing on the table a series of anecdotes, the professor shows to the readers how every ‘station’ makes a product the centre of common conversation, online or offline.

When Berger talk about Social currency. Simply, he points out how to make remarkable a product, idea or brand. This is just to make remarkable selling points by using the mystery and the surprise effects. Besides, social recognition seems to be at the core at this point: people listen to other for recommendations, because people follow what looks “cool” and worthy to be commented.

Why people talk about the product or brand more than others? One word: stimuli. The key is to make people associate brands or products to sights, smells, sounds. The senses play a crucial role because they trigger the association between perceptions and thoughts. It is what Berger names “inducted transference”, that is to make people associate the brand or product with a sense and/or meaning.

Emotionality couldn’t be out of this story. Berger tells us about the marketing benefits by using the theories based on psychological arousal. Awe and happiness, as well as anger and anxiety impact on people’s sensitivities and make the audience remember the brand/product. Somehow, it is the rule of “when we care, we share” (p. 96).

Becoming Public the content is another Berger’s strategy. A viral content should be on the stage and accessible to be imitated by the collective, because at the end of the day, people do what others do. Using smartly the joy of the neologism, the author impress the readers by telling us about the “social proof”, that is people tend to imitate the behaviour of their peers because “People assume that the longer the line, the better the food must be.” (p. 131).

The value of your product or service must be practical. It is Practical Value, when the content is useful, because it carries practical information. It is the how to do it tactic. Based on the “prospect theory”, Berger suggests taking advantage of the point references people have on their imaginary and show deals as valuable as possible.

The last homework for marketers would be the Story. As the Greek story – the Trojan horse, a successful story is when it has a practical information or teaches something to people. The content should make people talk about the message because it is exchangeable, public and emotional.

In overall, Contagious is a great book for whom is curious about how videos are viral, or message or TV advertising. By this book, Berger contributes with vast information available for specialist and practitioners.

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On the North of happiness, wealth and sauna

On the North of happiness, wealth and sauna

Nonfiction book review.

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
By Michael Booth / Vintage Publishing, February 2015. £7.99. ISBN: 9780099546078

Michael Booth is a British freelance Journalist and award – winning for his numerous non – fiction books. His field of interest: food and travel, Japan and France and most importantly, Nordic countries. Hi book ‘The almost nearly perfect people’ is the writer’s hit of uncovering what it is behind of the Nordic countries’ wealthy and happy global reputation, by using neologisms, euphemisms and sometimes, sarcasms.

Booth introduces the topic with an extraordinary sense of humour, preparing the readers for future pleasurable pages. His definition of ‘who Scandinavians are’ warns the readers about his confidence, in regards to the topic. How come he dare to add Finns and Icelanders in the exclusive circle of wealthy people with fancy furniture?

Hygge, happiness & Wealth. The Danish section is a compilation of good connections between Gini’s index and happiness as variable. Connecting hypothetically wealth with happiness, he tried to discover the complexity behind of those associations in a way that let the readers formulate questions and amuse by extension. Is it possible to live in a very expensive country and smile 24/7? The country is ranked as one of the best countries to live as per quality of life index. Sarcastically, to reach such a happiness, do we have to live as ordinary Danish? Maybe the happiness is a matter of personal definition, readers could think.

Jumping up to the Norwegian land. Booth’s tone and his sense humor, reflected on the nickname ‘Dubai of the North’, seems to be different. Starting with 17th of May parade seems to be the perfect strategy to relax the audience for what he will tell us soon. Booth drives the audience’s attention towards two main points: Norwegians and immigrants and Norwegians and oil. Booth highlights past episodes: the murder of a young foreigner by radicals and how the oil shaped the society and determined the protectionist, closedness and indifference Norwegian behaviors. By the end of this part, Booth claims a truce, when he ends the chapter by telling the public: “It would be suit the Norwegians so much better to show a little more openness and generosity of spirit.” (p. 215)

Having an enjoyable time at the sauna. Booth’s sense of humor seems not have bounder when the reflector is on Finland. He opened the chapter by using a comical neologism which makes the reading more pleasurable. Here a bite: “If you ask me, they should just change the word ‘fantastic’ to ‘Finntastic’. Helsinki? Heavensinki more like” (p. 221). The climax is reached when he described his own experience at the Fins sauna, through the controversy of the nakedness rule. It must be admitted that the historical connection between cultural factors and the obsession for alcohol is well structured and motivates the audience to understand taciturnity Finnishness.

As per Sweden and Iceland. The sense of humor as a speech device does not change. He used it to uncover Elves’ belief and the defects of the democracy. Unfortunately, this chapter of the book do not present a well informed and strong connections as presented before, even if he uses allegorical resources to picture the iconic of each country, for instance Bjork.

The book is just a perspective from which it is possible to understand these cultures. The book is just an enjoyable reading while commuting work or waiting for the hairdresser. The Booth’s unique selling point is his writing style, but it never must take as a guide to understand a whole culture.

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