Legendary copywriter Jospeh Sugarman’s 15 axioms to write copy that sells

Chris Wilson
4 min readJun 24, 2022

Jospeh Sugarman wrote the copywriting BIBLE.

Here are his 15 axioms to help you write copy that sells. 🧵

1. Copywriting is a process

It combines
• Your knowledge of the product
• Your experiences
• Your writing

To create an advert that sells a product or service.

2. All of your advert has one job — get them to read the first sentence.

What do you call a customer who never reads your copy?

An imaginary friend.

If you can’t get a potential customer to read your copy, you’re never going to convince them to buy.

3. Your first sentence has one job — get them to read the second sentence.

One sentence is not enough.

That’s why your first sentence MUST make them read the second sentence.

These are critical moments in your copy.

4. Your layout and first few paragraphs are all about creating the buying environment.

You wouldn’t buy a luxury car from a rusty garage.

But if you go to have your car serviced, you expect to see tools around.

Your ad needs to set the right frame.

5. Get the reader to say “yes” and “that’s right” as they read through your copy.

You want your reader to feel like your inside their head.

You want to enter the story they are telling themselves and align with it.

6. Compel the reader to go to the next sentence.

Each sentence you write must give the reader a reason to read to the end of you copy.

If it’s too boring, they’ll tune out.

Stories from the press can help capture attention.

7. When trying to solve a problem, don’t assume constraints are there.

We often assume constraints that make work more difficult than it needs to be.

Check your assumptions

Imagine if a constraint wasn’t true.

8. Keep the reader hooked on your copy through the power of curiosity

Say “I have a secret to tell you” and watch your listener lean in.

We want to know what’s hidden and will pay more attention if you create a story gap or “open loop”.

9. Never sell a product or service. Sell a concept.

A concept is what makes the product unique or noteworthy.

This could be an attribute of the product (the thinnest digital watch) but it could be something surrounding it (A pocket chess computer pitted against Gary Kasparov).

10. Use your subconscious to help you write copy.

Your subconscious is an ad generating supertool.

It can find connections between disparate ideas for totally original and noteworthy copy.

Give your brain the chance to speak by taking breaks.

11. Your copy should be as long as it needs to be to get them to act the way you want.

Short =/= good when it comes to copy.

Concise copy is the most effective.

Both require you to cut extra words, but concise copy can be very long. It’s just not longer than it needs to be.

12. Every piece of copy you write should be personal

So don’t write your copy to everyone, write to one person.

And write it as you would if you knew them.

And if you’re wondering what to do when you have multiple personas, well you write multiple pieces of copy.

13. Your copy should present a logical argument and address questions as the reader thinks of them.

Copywriting is sales in print.

And in a sales conversation, the potential customers is going to have questions and objections.

It’s the same when they read your copy, but you can’t just pop out of the page and answer them. (if you can, tell me your secret!)

So you have to address them in your writing.

No further questions your honor.

14. Be ruthless in your editing

“Kill your darlings” said Stephen King.

It applies to copywriting just like fiction writing.

Your goal is to edit your content so you express your ideas in the fewest words.

15. It’s easier to sell a painkiller than a vitamin

A painkiller is for a problem someone has now.

A vitamin is to prevent issues in the future.

The first is easier to sell as we want relief now! But we delay preventatives like vitamins because they aren’t urgent.

To sell a “vitamin” present it as a cure or emphasise the aspects that are a cure.

TLDR

Here are Jospeh Sugarman’s 15 copywriting axioms to help you write copy that converts.

If you found this article valuable:

1. Follow me on twitter for more threads on marketing, copywriting, and creativity. → @espressocopy

2. Each week I share a condensed newsletter with three quick items that will improve your copywriting in under 5 mins. Get your copy at https://espressocopy.com

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Chris Wilson

Most creators struggle to stand out and make sales due to their average copy. I help you write copy that converts so you can pursue the life you want.