20 Copywriting Tips You Need to Steal by Nicolas Cole

I’m in lockdown this week re-writing my website, so I asked an ace copywriter, @nicolascole77 for permission to share some of his best writing tips.

Nicolas is a viral writer, and I found his marketing tips and copywriting advice on Twitter.  If you’re a writer for any online platform, you’ll understand why I’m reposting.

Here’s his advice for content marketers, word for word. Thank you @nicolascole77!

1.“You aren’t selling anything to the customer.

You are giving them an opportunity to change

2. Don’t use formal language.

You are the customer’s friend. And if your friend asked you for a vacuum recommendation, you most certainly would not say, “This device synchronizes efficiencies across multi-level floor plan designs.”

3. Don’t say you “are” experiencing X problem.

Say you “might be” experiencing XYZ problems. This allows you to speak to a variety of different types of customers—opposed to assuming 1 problem and alienating the rest.

4. Avoid the word “better” at all costs.

  • A “better” financial plan
  • A “better” way to live
  • A “better” workout plan

“Better” implies incremental improvement. Instead, aim for DIFFERENT. And then be specific about what that difference is.

5. Be a painkiller, not a vitamin.

Vitamins are solutions to problems the customer isn’t experiencing yet (in any urgently painful way), but MAY experience in the future. Boring. Painkillers solve highly urgent, painful problems the customer is experiencing NOW.

6. Sell the result, not the process.

Nobody wants to go to the gym. Everyone wants a six-pack and a date on Friday night. Sell the result, and then educate the customer on the process along the way.

7. Write copy for 1 reader.

Don’t address the crowd. “Hey everyone!” This makes each individual feel unseen, unheard, and ignored. Instead, write directly to 1 person in the crowd. “Hey YOU.” This makes every customer feel like the center of the universe.

8. Don’t sell your brand, sell your category.

If you want to sell probiotics, the customer has to buy into the CATEGORY of probiotics. If you want to sell mushroom coffee, the customer has to buy into the CATEGORY “mushroom coffee.” Not your brand.

9. Teach, don’t sell.

Nobody buys an electric car until they LEARN why it’s good for the environment. Nobody buys a Peloton until they LEARN why working out from home is so efficient. Nobody buys a writing course until they LEARN why writing online is so beneficial.

10. Never blame the customer.

If someone is overweight, it’s not their fault—it’s the food industry’s fault! If someone is bad at math, it’s not their fault—it’s the education system’s fault! Always give the customer an “out” and someone else to blame.

11. Separate writing copy for Insiders vs Outsiders

  • Insiders = people who already speak the language of the category
  • Outsiders = beginners who aren’t fluent yet. When speaking to Insiders, you can use niche/industry language. But when speaking to Outsiders, don’t.

12. Ground your argument in a shocking statistic

“It takes 660 gallons of water to make one hamburger.” 1 powerful statistic can give an incredible amount of credibility to your argument, and ground it in reality. Conversely, avoid listing stats. Too many = too confusing.

13. “According to science…”

People love knowing the thing they’re using is “scientifically proven.” So, go find some research that says it is. If none exists, conduct your own survey. Now it’s research-backed.

14. Organize information into lists.

Reading paragraphs is hard. And listening to someone talk without containers around their ideas sounds like rambling. Instead, package ideas into 1, 2, 3. A, B, C. 4-Step Plan. 7-Week Routine. Customers want to feel organized.

15. Don’t oversell the problem.

Just say what it is “Have you ever had an impossible, excruciating, mind-bogglingly frustrating time finding something to watch on TV?” No need for all this razzmatazz. Just say: “Can’t find anything to watch?”

16. Don’t oversell the solution.

Just say what it is Conversely, when it comes time to tell the customer “the answer,” don’t feel the need to do a big song and dance. Just tell them: to solve X, you need Y. “And Y is what we specialize in.”

17. Give your customers new language to talk about the new problem you’re educating them on.

Ex: A big reason probiotic sales went bananas was because the problem was named Leaky Gut. Even if you didn’t take probiotics, you knew what Leaky Gut was. Which = conversation.

18. Remind the customer what will happen “if they don’t.”

If they don’t solve this problem, X happens… If they don’t solve this problem, Y will stay the same… If they don’t solve this problem, Z will remain an unreachable dream… Raise the stakes.

19. Sell the benefits, not the features.

Nobody cares what your widget does. They only care what your widget does FOR THEM.

20. Remove the fear of “buyer’s remorse.”

To tip a prospect over the edge, speak directly to their fear of it not working out. Offer a full refund, or a personal guarantee. Make it clear you are invested in their transformation. If you deliver, they’ll trust you forever.

Sales copywriting is such an art, and I find it’s often a misunderstood one. Bad copywriters try to sell, sell, sell. But legendary copywriters educate in a way where the customer sells themselves. If you want to up your copywriting game, start here.

If you like Nicolas’ copywriting tips, you might like his no-cost copywriting book. I just signed up for it. I love good copy and can’t resist a CTA that calls my name.

Nicolas Cole

Nicolas Cole is an author, Top Writer on Quora, and the founder and Editor-In-Chief of Digital Press. His work has acquired over 30 million views online, and has been published in Time, Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.



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