How to Write Copy That Sells

It's easy once you know the fundamentals.


Nick Chai

3 years ago | 9 min read

Eugene Schwartz, one of the world’s renowned copywriters, made $50 million dollars from a textbook on natural health. Imagine what you can achieve if you master writing copy that sells.

Copywriting is powerful. The best copy would convert even the uninterested if done correctly. Find out their pain points, reveal their deepest desire, and offer them the right solution to their problems.

As complicated as it sounds, it can be a piece of cake once you know the steps and processes of the research phase. Your research makes or breaks your copy.

For Eugene, copywriting is 80% research and 20% writing. We’ll look at the majority part of the copywriting process, and dive deeper into the steps copywriters apply in their research.

Step 1: Understand the Desires of Your Customers

The market has desires unknown to anyone until they are discovered. We often think we could generate desire. However, this concept is proven to be inefficient.

Customers have pain points.

These pain points manifest themselves as deep-seated desires. If you want to write copy that sells, you have to first discover what keeps them awake at night. These are the problems your customers want to solve.

The first step always starts with finding out what their problems are, and what are the required solutions. Once you have this information, it’ll be easier to determine what their desires are. There won’t be a desire if there are no pain points.

To write a strong and persuasive copy, you should focus on asking yourself one simple question.

What is their number one problem that causes them so much of a headache?

Identifying their core problem and offering them the solution is your only job in copywriting. This will make your copy very hard to resist because they see the solution to their problems.

The only definition of desire for mankind is to run away from pain.

If you’re reading this, your problem is low sales. It’s obvious you want people to buy. Thus, I’m writing this article to teach you how to write copy that sells, because wanting people to buy is your desire.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed a theory in his paper in 1943, saying that humans have a hierarchy of needs to be met. We yearn to meet these basic needs to live comfortably.

Maslow also stated that these needs motivate us to take action. The longer these needs are neglected, the stronger the motivation is to fulfill those unmet needs.

Image by Soul Mcleod via Wikimedia
Image by Soul Mcleod via Wikimedia

Our needs are categorized into stages. We tend to meet lower-level needs before progressing to meet higher-level needs. It’s our natural instinct to look for food when we’re hungry.

Let the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs tell you how strong your product or service affects your customers when they don’t have it. You can leverage the intensity of their motivation in your copywriting.

The lower your product or service falls in the hierarchy, the stronger the motivation will be. Hence, it’s easier to persuade them to take action.

This is why Eugene emphasizes on research before you write. Your customers’ desires to satisfy needs will guide the way you write your copy. This is the most important mindset in copywriting.

You’re writing for your customers, not for yourself. So, whenever you write, always do it with them in mind.

Step 2: Match Those Desires With the Right Words

Copywriters called this verbalization. It’s the act of enforcing, transforming, or replacing a mental image in the mind by matching specific words.

How does this work?

Instead of saying “copywriting,” I use “write copy that sells.” I want to enforce the mental image of copywriting that makes people convert and buy in your mind.

This is a powerful copywriting technique Eugene applied in his work. It paints a picture in the reader’s mind. A picture that recreates desires.

The reason verbalization works perfectly is it builds instant trust with the readers.

Readers will notice that someone understands the problems they’re facing. They’ll pay attention to what the copywriter has to say.

The headline and the introduction grab and hold attention. The main content sells. The purpose of verbalization is to keep the readers reading throughout the copy.

As they read, you’ll explain the benefits of your offer, and how to buy your offer, in a clear and organized manner. An unorganized and cluttered copy equals to zero sales because it stops the readers from reading.

How to match words

Words have their own level of intensity as well. Filthy has more depth than dirty. Excellent means something more than better.

When you verbalize something in your copy, you would want to use words that match the “feel” of your copy. You wouldn’t want to sound disconnected in your copy, especially when explaining the benefits of your offer.

Let’s say I want to verbalize something related to coffee. The “feel” I’m going for is casual, fun, and light. Here are two examples to illustrate word matching.

Example 1 (Mismatched)

Looking for caffeine to boost your productivity? We have the perfect drink for you — freshly brewed iced americano. Keeping you up till your work is done.

Example 2 (Matched)

Our freshly brewed iced americano will be your best friend during your busiest. Just a few sips will keep you up at least until you finish work!

Can you see the difference between the two?

I used strong words in example 1 but example 2 reads better because it matches the “feel” of what coffee is supposed to feel like. Matching words in your verbalization process is all about matching the “feel” of your copy.

Example 1 sounds robotic and dry. It doesn’t match the “feel” even if I sprinkled strong and punchy words in the copy. Those words paint a picture of working in the office rather than a picture of a cafe.

Example 2 is perfect. A friendly, casual tone matches the ‘feel’ of what coffee should look like — a day in a lovely cafe. This is what I’m going for.

With that being said, before you hang your banner up, make sure you use the right words and your copy is organized.

Step 3: Encourage Actions Through Emotions

When was the last time you bought something just because it was on a limited discount? FOMO (fear of missing out) is a powerful emotion. It played around with your rational mind and made you buy.

Emotions bypass our rational minds when they are strong enough.

A call-to-action and a strong emotion are enough to create a shopping frenzy. Just look at Apple’s launches. People would camp overnight to buy their stuff. Here’s a case study of how they did it.

A case study of Apple’s Apple Watch

Apple understands the desire of its customers. They only need to call them to action with words that stir emotions, and people would start lining up. Emotion is the main cause of action.

Apple’s Apple Watch headline: Add them together. Multiply their power.

To explain further, take the headline from Apple as an example. Apple users desire one thing in iPhones — simplicity. iPhones are very user-friendly and slick.

Apple understands this. When they introduce the Apple Watch, they apply the same interface to make it user-friendly. Then, they came up with the headline— “Add them together. Multiply their power.”

Let's break this down.

The first line explains the benefits of the Apple Watch — you can sync calls, music, and notifications — which is the main highlight of the device. “Add them together” sounds cooler than “Access your phone everywhere,” don’t you think?

It doesn’t sound monotonic. The words match the “feel.” They are easy to understand, and we can almost tell by a glance. They speak to our emotions rather than our logic.

The second line, “Multiply their power,” explains the benefits of having an Apple Watch. They’re telling you that if you combine your iPhone with an Apple Watch, you can do more.

Power is a strong word. People often associate words like power and efficiency to electronic devices. Having more of those are Apple users’ desires as well.

The next time you write your copy, think of your customers’ desires. Match those desires with strong emotional words, and call them to action.

Step 4: Apply Persuasion Into Your Copy

Objections usually come up when your customers are on the edge of taking their wallets out. The first three steps make them hyped up about your offer. This step is to make them commit.

Each customer has two layers of “defenses” when it comes to spending. The first layer is trust. The second is logic.

The first layer is the hardest to penetrate because of competition. It takes effort to grab their attention, and gain their trust, at the same time. You mustn’t forget your competitors are doing the same as you.

So, getting the first three steps right is crucial if you want to sell with your words.

The fourth step will deal with the logical side of your customers. It’s the one responsible for most cart abandonments in your business. To deal with the logical mind, you have to present valid arguments to these types of questions.

“Is this worth my money? Do I need this?”

“Do I have a guarantee that it works for me?”

The logical mind acts as a filter to their hyped-up emotions. Our brains are trained to do this. We do it subconsciously all the time. We know that our hard-earned money should be worth high-quality products and services.

Your customers will hesitate, even for a brief moment. This is the moment you should persuade them with your words. You should apply the principles of persuasion to break those walls down, and convince them to make the buying decision.

The three most persuasive tactics to sell with words: testimonials or reviews, explaining the benefits, and a strong call-to-action.

Testimonial or reviews

Testimonials and reviews give your customers a guarantee. When they see people are using your products or services and are enjoying the benefits, they want it too. They want a guarantee that your offer will solve their problems.

Explaining the benefits

A product or service is a commodity until you give it a value. This value is what your customers are looking for. They’ll buy it because your product or service has the ability to improve their lives. So, take your time to explain the benefits that appeal to their logic.

Strong call-to-action

Some of your customers are already interested in buying. You have to guide them on what to do next. Providing a clear call-to-action removes confusion on the next few steps to commit. A strong call-to-action is what they need to buy from you.

Sometimes, using strong emotions doesn’t do all the work. Your copy needs to be persuasive. These tactics are the fundamentals that make your copy compelling to your customers.

Writing the Copy

It’s time to write the copy. One thing to keep in mind when writing is to prioritize readability above anything else. Readability sells. Your copy needs to be readable to be able to sell with your main content.

Here are some tips to improve your copy’s readability.

  1. Use white space. A few lines of text is better than a paragraph of texts. You want readers to read easily with a single glance so they keep on reading. White space is also useful when you want to emphasize certain parts of your copy.
  2. Use bold texts. Use it when you want to highlight certain parts in a paragraph. Bold texts stand out. It tells the readers this part is important.
  3. Use underline. It’s best when you’re trying to verbalize your copy. E.g. It’s easy to write copy that sells once you mastered the basics.
  4. Use headings. Headings are a form of transition. Headings show the reader a new idea is being presented. This will prevent the clashing of ideas.
  5. Use capital letters. Use it when you want to emphasize a certain emotion. E.g. You have to STOP leaving money on the table (emphasizing the emotion, not the word itself).

Example copy (coffee example)

Our freshly brewed iced americano will make you come back for more after a few sips (Headline)

Your coffee is in the “safe” hands of our well-trained baristas. Our baristas know what good coffee should taste like. They have undergone training in brewing all sorts of beverages our cafe provides.

Every cup is delicious, made with dedication and quality. It’s guaranteed to satisfy your caffeine cravings.

Our coffee beans come from quality sources (Headings)

We partnered with suppliers in Ethiopia to provide us with the most expensive coffee beans we can afford. Ethiopia is the birthing ground for coffee beans since the 15th century.

Yes, their first batch of coffee beans was discovered 600 years ago! And Ethiopia has been sourcing coffee beans to various parts of the world ever since.

Rest assured. We want you to know that we NEVER take our coffee beans lightly. Your coffee has a rich history behind it, and that explains why it tastes so darn good.

Your satisfaction is our priority. (Headings)

We make sure your coffee is prepared with your best interest in mind — quality in every sip. Our baristas use coffee machines specialized to extract every inch of richness from the beans.

Your coffee will be served hot or cold according to your preference. You can enjoy it on the go. You can also enjoy it in-house. Whichever you prefer.

What are you waiting for? Visit us at our nearby outlets today!


Writing copies that sell requires lots of research. So, make sure you’re familiar with your customers’ desires in and out to harness the power of copywriting.


Created by

Nick Chai

Your sales message is the fundamental key to marketing success. I'm writing to share everything I know about neuromarketing so you can apply what works to get more leads and sales. Follow me for more content on persuasion and marketing.







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