From Academia to Copywriting: Crafting Human Connections with Nicole Elliott

Listen now:

In this episode of The Sixth Degree Podcast meet Copywriter Nicole Elliott. In this episode we dive into Nicole’s journey as a copywriter, her experiences teaching ESL, and her global adventures with her Brazilian husband. Nicole highlights the importance of human connection in writing and how Nicole’s approach to copywriting helps clients connect with their audiences effectively. Throughout the episode, Emily and Nicole share personal anecdotes and insights that make for an engaging and relatable conversation.

What you’ll learn:

  • Nicole’s Background: The episode starts with Emily Merrell introducing Nicole Elliott, the lead copywriter and messaging strategist at Nicole e creative. Nicole explains her transition from academia to copywriting, driven by a desire for more human connection and a departure from the dryness of academic writing.
  • Nicole’s Journey into Copywriting: Nicole shares how she started as an English major and became an ESL teacher, which allowed her to appreciate language learning from a different perspective. She eventually discovered copywriting and was drawn to the focus on writing for humans and creating meaningful connections through words.
  • First Copywriting Client: Before officially realizing she was doing copywriting, Nicole’s first client was her father-in-law, who needed help with expanding his business into an English-speaking market. This experience laid the foundation for her career as a copywriter.
  • Love Story: Nicole shares her unique love story with her husband, who is from Brazil. They met in Croatia while backpacking, and despite distance and various locations, they eventually got married and lived in South Korea.

To learn more about Nicole Elliott, visit her website nicoleelliott.co

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Emily Merrell  00:04

Welcome to the sixth degree Podcast, the podcast where we grill our guests about the things that make them tick and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily Merrell. I’m your host Emily and today I’m thrilled to have my new friend Nicole Elliot. She is the lead copywriter, and she’s a messaging strategist at Nicole e creative. Nicole, welcome to the show.


Nicole Elliott  00:33

Thanks for having me, Emily. Happy to be here.


Emily Merrell  00:35

I’m so happy to have you and I this is definitely we have a lot of things to discuss when it comes to copy. And I feel like with your experience, you can also offer us so many amazing pieces of advice that people don’t know. But Nicole before we dive into everything, goodness, today, I want to just read your bio. And so guys, Nicole Elliot is a conversion copywriter and messaging strategist who specializes in human sounding non salesy sales copies for entrepreneurs. More on that later, she began her writing career in academia but got sick of it painfully dry, Stuffy, drained of all personality approach to writing, she found copywriting and the chance to write like a human and never looked back. Today, she cooks up copy with her three step human first messaging approach to help clients nail down their brand voice, capture their audience’s actual words with extensive voice of customer research, and strategically blend the two together for a copy that connects and converts leads. So Nicole, how did you go from, from academia to which I imagine was very, very, very dry. I’m making a wild assumption here to writing copy for humans, what was your first step?


Nicole Elliott  01:48

Alright, it was very, very dry. And to be honest, I think it was just that dryness that encouraged me to get out of it, because I just got sick of it. It was kind of the logical step for me, initially to get into academic writing, since I was a very typical, like, English major second hand book in hands in college, and when I was in college, I began working as a private tutor for academic writing. But then at some point, I just yeah, just it’s really lifeless. And it gets boring. And there’s just not a lot of, you know, actual human connection. So I stepped away from that and became an English as second language teacher. So I got certified taught in a few places around the world. And I still teach the occasional class, just as my work can be quite solitary. So as a writer, so it’s nice to get some face to face. But then I missed writing. And I wanted to get back into writing, but I wasn’t interested in going back to academic writing for obvious reasons. And I don’t know exactly how but I somehow realized that something called copywriting existed. And I started reading into it. And I really resonated with the fact that it was all focused on actually writing for the human on the other ends. And on the connection, which obviously you are, it’s all about connection, you’re always talking about connection, I’m sure you appreciate that as well. And I just Yeah, never really looked back. Oh, my gosh,


Emily Merrell  03:11

well, it’s so funny that you did ESL, I actually did ESL, and I was a Spanish major, Spanish and Communications major. I can communicate in Spanish, and you can communicate in Spanish and English. But I was so blown away as being an being an ESL teacher, how much we forget about the English language and how much we learn. And my students would ask me, they’re like, why did you conjugate it this way? Or why does the conditional tense exist? Like googling the answers? So I don’t know it? Was this something that when you became a teacher, did it come naturally to you? Or did you have to? Did you have to brush up on your skills as well?


Nicole Elliott  03:55

Yeah, I mean, I would say I definitely had to brush up on my skills. I probably had a bit of a leg up, because I already already had a very strong interest in grammar and languages and linguistics in general. Yeah, I mean, I remember when I got certified to teach English. One of your course books is just like an English grammar book, because the assumption is that you’re not necessarily going to show up to every single lesson having knowing exactly how to teach these things that are so intuitive to you. It definitely is a bit of a learning curve. And it makes me appreciate, you know, other people learning foreign languages, because there’s a lot of things you take for granted for sure. Yeah.


Emily Merrell  04:33

And one of the things I want to talk to you about today, and we don’t have to dive into it right out of the gate, but as chat GBT and as a copywriter how AI and Chad GBT and these tools are influencing or interfering or helping with your your job. But I want to tell you a quick story where my husband has been writing for medium and he’s been writing like monthly posts and just started writing them with the help of Have you had GPT? He’s getting these comments from his family being like, oh my god, your writing is so much better grammatically than it was before. So, yes, grammar is not something that is intuitive to most people or to all people. But okay, so digging back in to copywriting you found in your copywriting to add it in academia, where were you living at this point? And then you’ve lived to deliver? Yeah,


Nicole Elliott  05:27

I was still in Minnesota when I was working as a private tutor. Okay, so you’re in Minnesota,


Emily Merrell  05:31

and you’re like, I’m going to become a copywriter? Who was your first client as a copywriter?


Nicole Elliott  05:39

Oh, good question.


Emily Merrell  05:41

Way back.


Nicole Elliott  05:42

Yeah. I’m thinking way back. Well, yes. I mean, my first copywriting client was before I realized that I was actually writing copy or realizing what copy existed. Yeah, that was actually my father in law, since my husband is from Brazil. And he has his own business. And you know, most of the things that are writing are naturally in Portuguese. And so they were working on kind of expanding into an English speaking market. And so they asked for my help. And so I helped him, you know, with emails and website copy. Your husband’s from Brazil? Yes. From Brazil. Yeah.


Emily Merrell  06:15

How did Brazil and Minnesota meet with one another?


Nicole Elliott  06:19

It’s always the question. People are like, Did you meet in the US or Brazil? And then I tell them that we actually met in Croatia,


Emily Merrell  06:25

obviously, like,


Nicole Elliott  06:27

a lot. Yeah. Yeah, we were both backpacking, like just traveling by ourselves. And we were staying in the same hostel. And he came and said, Hi, and that was 10 years ago, and now we’re married. And


Emily Merrell  06:42

since since this backpacking, adventure, you guys met in Croatia? Where did you live after Croatia?


Nicole Elliott  06:50

Yeah, well, it got a little bit chaotic. We were doing, you know, distance for a while because I had to go back to Minnesota to finish school. And he had a job lined up in Argentina. So we were you know, meeting and all these. We met once in Peru, we met in Romania, like we met in Portugal, it was just all of this is a bit messy. But once we finally got married, our first move was actually to South Korea.


Emily Merrell  07:11

Obviously, South Korea Yeah, that mean, that’s the common denominator between Minnesota and Brazil, basically,


Nicole Elliott  07:17

yes. So much in common.


Emily Merrell  07:18

So how did you get what did you do in South Korea? And also, you had to I mean, this isn’t going to be like an anthology on your, on your whole relationship. It those are two big personalities, big personalities of, of cultures, and then came together in a unknown culture, collectively. How did you guys settle on South Korea?


Nicole Elliott  07:42

Oh, well, this was at the time when I was just before I got into copywriting. So I was an ESL teacher. And we both, neither of us had spent a lot of time in East Asia. So we knew we wanted to go there just to see something different. Since you know, obviously, he’s from South America. I had been to South America, we met in Europe. So we’re pretty well first and those general areas. And I kind of just I ended up with a job in South Korea, and he realized he was doing a master’s program at the time that he could do a study abroad there at the same time. And so South Korea was that is so


Emily Merrell  08:15

cool. I love the I love how many international flavors have been baked into your relationship?


Nicole Elliott  08:20

Yes, yeah. It’s we continue to be as international as we can we spend a lot of time traveling and all that


Emily Merrell  08:25

so and right now you are living where?


Nicole Elliott  08:28

in Boise, Idaho, unexpectedly. It’s beautiful, though, right in the mountains. A lot of people think it’s just potatoes. But I’d always more to offer. Yeah, someone needs to work on the PR there. Honestly, though.


Emily Merrell  08:40

Yeah. All right. I feel like you hear all the stories of all the celebrities who like sneak away and raise their kids in Sun Valley and then come back to Hollywood.


Nicole Elliott  08:47

Yeah, I think Tom Hanks has a house in Sun Valley. So Ernest Hemingway is buried there. So it’s got some things but just speaking of them leaning into that, you know, potato identity for New Years, they literally instead of having a, like ball dropped like they do in New York, they have a giant potato drop, and it’s just this giant potato, it’s not a real potato, and it has little glowing wings on it. And they drop it in front of the Capitol. So I mean, against the identity but


Emily Merrell  09:13

I love that and I think as a copywriter you know, you have three steps to human first messaging. If we were to use Boise, Idaho as a client says, sample Okay, all right, I’m here for it. We’re gonna we’re gonna we’re going to transition into this. So it sounds like they’ve already made nailed their brand identity. How would you help them nail their brand voice?


Nicole Elliott  09:39

Oh. Actually pretty difficult question. Like, oh, god, there’s a bathroom break, right? Let me see here. I mean, there’s a lot of different things that go into voice. Obviously, a lot of it. Well, in this case, the brand itself would be Idaho. So that would be a little bit more difficult but best case scenario, I can just interview the entire state of Idaho. Perspective. Yep, their language? No, but to give more of a serious answer, I think, probably talking to people who are actually here and finding out why they love it. And using some of that language to then bake that into, like the overall messaging. Voice itself would be a little bit more tricky, I guess. Because you’d have to somehow capture what it is the state is all about. You know, it’s a little bit quirky. It’s a little bit it can feel a little bit small town, but there’s also quite a lot going on in Boise, it’s very outdoorsy, it’s a town talking to the people would probably be the best way to go about that, which is a little bit different as to how I would approach it if I was actually looking at brands.


Emily Merrell  10:43

Yeah. And if you’re I loved how you, you manage that. Thank you for tackling my


Nicole Elliott  10:49

my tasking asking the Enforcer?


Emily Merrell  10:51

My son of the moment question. Oh, nice. Thank you funds for days. But if you were to take it as I think that was a great point of with a with an actual brand. And I’ll talk about six degrees, for example, like it’s so overwhelming, sometimes when you are capturing a brand voice, because when you create something, a lot of founders will create something because it was a void that they lacked, or they saw was lacking in the market. So they’re like, oh, that my ideal client is me. I’m going to base everything off of me, which tell me why that is? Or is not the right way to approach it.


Nicole Elliott  11:29

Yeah, I mean, I certainly understand that sensation, it’s really common, I see it all the time. And I mean, logically, you know, it makes sense. I mean, your business is your baby, you know, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, solopreneur, you’re the one who created it, you’re the one who knows the most about what you have on offer. But at the end of the day, that’s really just one side of the coin for coffee that’s actually effective. So I think maybe I can launch into an expert, a explanation of kind of the two ingredients, I see the coffee, that can actually convert, so if that’s alright with you. So one side of the coin, that’s going to be this side that you’re talking about, you know, the voice of the founder, the personality, the philosophy, their story, their value proposition, what makes them different, all of that kind of baked into one. And that’s going to be really, really important from the perspective of connecting with your audience, you know, again, always talking about connection here. So want to make sure we bring it back to that. But the reality is you also have a business, you want to be able to help more people, you want to make sure that the right people find you. So you also need conversion. And so that is something that’s going to come in the form of the actual language of your audience. So that was where I was talking about, you know, if I was, say, doing this for voice here for Idaho, I would go and interview people on the street to find out, you know, what it is they actually care about, or, you know, for talking about a client, I would look for, you know, to conduct interviews with their clients and look for patterns as far as their core pain points, the benefits of my client service, their hesitations, which is often something that’s left out of copy different ways that they might actually be using your product or service. And so this second side, or the second ingredient is one that I often see left off, because I think it can feel a little bit more intimidating. And it’s almost in some ways, a little bit counter intuitive. But I would actually argue that this side is more important than strictly what the brands or the company or the individual founder wants to say.


Emily Merrell  13:38

So yeah, I feel like it’s a heavy lift, and people hate inconveniencing their clients, they never want, you know, they send out surveys and they come back unanswered. So what is the best strategy to get in front? or identify who these clients are? Our customers are to be interviewed?


Nicole Elliott  13:57

Yeah, great question. I would say, generally, they are going to be the obviously people who’ve had great results by nature working with you, um, the people who are probably most engaged because they’re going to be willing, you know, to have a short I mean, doesn’t need to be a big time commitment, you know, a 20, maybe 30 minute max interview. Or you could even do surveys, as you said, but you’re gonna want some one to one outreach there. But you also want to make sure that it’s people who are, you’re interviewing people who are going to be closest to the ideal audience that you want to continue to attract. You want to make sure because sometimes I know people like do, especially when they first get started. They tackle or focus on one specific audience, but then they switch along the way but then the audience insights they have don’t really develop with that.


Emily Merrell  14:44

I think that’s a really important exercise for people to do. And I’m super guilty of not having done that in a very long time. Because it is intimidating. It’s time consuming. You have to work around people’s schedules, you have to work around your own schedule. So once you’ve had the interviews with these people, first off, do you recommend recording these sessions on Zoom? Or


Nicole Elliott  15:09

taking notes? Or,


Emily Merrell  15:10

like, what’s the best way to actually capture the information? Yeah, I


Nicole Elliott  15:14

would absolutely record it. I mean, unless you run across someone who’s really uncomfortable with that, I’ve never encountered that. Or if that was the case, I would perhaps just let them know I will be delivered garden. Yeah, I will let them know ahead of time you recording and then that I will delete the podcast or delete the recording afterwards?


Emily Merrell  15:31

And what do you do with it from there, too, we hand it over to you. So if you’re my my copywriting, Guru strategist, I’m gonna play Guru, I think it’s better. You know, I’m working with you, I’ve hired you. Do I do the interviews myself as a brand? Or do you do the interviews for me?


Nicole Elliott  15:48

Yeah, so that’s something that I would do. Most cases, I find that like, clients find it a little bit easier to speak to an outside party, rather than the person who they worked with directly, just, I’m not sure if they sometimes get, you know, feel like they have to come up and expel this overwhelming gratitude, which kind of stresses them out, or they just, you know, want to make sure they’re capturing it, because they know, you know that what they say, will affect the person on the other end. Or if they actually have any recommendations for how it might be better, they might not want to tell them face to face. So once I have this, you know, recording, I then get a transcript of it, there’s a lot of different platforms you can use. I like otter.ai. It’s not perfect, but does pretty good job. And then from there, this is where I mean, I like to think copies a bit of arts and a bit of science. So this is where almost the sciency part comes into play. Because I will then go through these transcripts, and make notes of, you know, all sorts of patterns, I’m seeing words that keep coming up pain points that I’m seeing show up a lot of interesting language. You know, like a really, I heard another copywriter, I wish I could remember who it was like a give credit, but describe it a sticky language. So it’s just something that stands out to you as a unique way to describe something which can then make great, you know, headlines or subheads. And then just really have kind of a whole complicated system for how I actually organize this research. But really just looking for what you know, again, sticky things, the parts that are gonna stand out to you, as well as the pattern. So things you’re seeing again, and again and again. I think that’s,


Emily Merrell  17:29

that makes a lot of sense to me. So then, do you then go back to the client and you share with them the notes and like the key learnings and the key takeaways? Or do you just go ahead and tackle the sales copy page for them and be like this is this is your new page.


Nicole Elliott  17:46

It very much depends on the clients. Some clients like to have me put together like a brand messaging strategy guide, which is going to include, you know, all of like the voice work, we’ve kind of talked about, like talking about your value proposition, building out guidelines around the brand voice, the differentiators, what have you. But then I will also include the findings, as well as like different testimonial variations, which actually we should talk about using testimonial strategically later on, because that’s a very useful coffee tip.


Emily Merrell  18:15

So okay, so I, I have a question. Now after you know, someone is starting start someone is launching their their website, and I feel like this. A lot of my clients, they will spend so much of their time obsessing over the copy on their website, like overthinking it, over tweaking it over sending it to a gajillion people for review. And I’m more of the mentality. I’m like, fix it later. Launch it now. And better yet imperfect, right? Because there’s no, it’s never going to be perfect. It’s going to be a working document. Even if you hire Nicole, it’s going to be perfect. But then you’re going to grow and add something and it’s not a it’s not etched in stone. So what are your like hard and fast rules about copy for someone who isn’t at a stage that they can hire a copywriter? They don’t have clients yet. So they’re like, What the eff is like interviewing someone going to be anyone that I’ve worked with? Yeah, so how do we how do we do this?


Nicole Elliott  19:15

Well, so probably the first thing that you want to do is focus again on like that voice and your initial message, which I realized can be quite difficult upfront, but that’s where your, you know, thought on better than than perfect is going to be really, really important. And so I mean, there’s a few different ways you can do it. Honestly, I would probably just like record yourself or have like a good friend ask you some questions about you know, why did you start this brand? How do you want to help people who do you want to help? What’s your process for helping them and just it can be because I’m sure you’ve probably heard like kind of the classic advice is to write conversationally, and so this is something that can really help with that and sometimes just talking things out loud can really help you get to kind of the the meat of what you want to come tunicates um, but again, as you said, I wouldn’t stress too much about it upfront, like, honestly, I’m a professional copywriter, and my first website was terrible. And I still got clients, I’ve progressed a long way since then. But I’m, you know, always getting better and better type of thing.


Emily Merrell  20:16

I like that idea of recording and having a conversation and reflecting back, why you’re doing this or how you’re doing it or what you’re doing. So, yeah, great tip.


Nicole Elliott  20:29

So I say, yeah, that’s definitely one side of it. So you’re working on your voice. And now, perhaps, you know, you’re not in a place where you’re able to interview your clients, there’s a few different things you can do here. You can, you know, if you have assuming you have a good grasp on who your ideal audiences, you can kind of go hang out where they hang out online. So maybe there’s a subreddit dedicated to you, you know, your target audience, maybe there’s Facebook groups, you can join, maybe there’s blogs, maybe there’s a book on Amazon, that someone you know, would maybe turn to as an alternative to working with you that you can then look through reviews of, or maybe you can take a peek at your competition, if they have lots of reviews, say Google reviews, or what have you, then you can see what people are saying what type of language they’re using, what questions they have, you know, what their concerns are? Where how maybe the alternative solution they tried, say, you know, you’re looking at like Amazon reviews or something didn’t, didn’t hold up to the light or didn’t get them what they were looking for. So there’s definitely different, you know, kind of roundabout ways you can you can go about doing that research.


Emily Merrell  21:36

I think that’s it’s a really good idea to get into seek inspiration and gather inspiration from those who have already done the damn thing and, and learn from them. I do, I get so overwhelmed sometimes with copy. And I feel like, I feel like this a lot of people like I have so much clarity, I could probably write your copy. Excellent. And then you could write my copy. But sometimes when you’re looking at your own copy, you overthink it, and you get in your own head and you just take a nap and drink a bottle of wine. And before you know it, it’s two weeks from now, and he’s not at launch the website or the sales page doesn’t come to life. But are there any copy words that you’re like? I kind of think about writing a resume, you know, when you read a resume, you should use action words like the team hired oversaw up, up, up, up up, blah, are there any action words that you think are kind of like secret? Smart words to always include in your copy?


Nicole Elliott  22:35

I would say that’s, I don’t think so. Because it’s always going to depends on the audience in the industry. And one word that might feel, you know, interesting or unique for your industry might be trite, feel trite and overused in your industry. So I don’t think I could exactly paint like a blanket statement like these are the words to use, because it’s always coming back to your actual audience, and what words they are using and what words they want to see.


Emily Merrell  23:04

And then in terms of the results, when you think about in terms of copy is defined, in your opinion, it’s better to paint, like to focus, I always like to think of a transformation, like a trip to Jamaica, you know, and you’re you don’t tell them about TSA PreCheck? Or that you’re gonna have to like be in a private room. Yeah. So you don’t like really, you don’t obsess at the little details. But the more you focus about the white beaches of Jamaica, and the margarita, or the cocktail that’s going to be in your hand. And the little in betweens are something that we can tackle later. What are your feelings? If someone was launching a coaching program or will focus on a coaching program? What are some best practices you’ve seen there? We we hang out in Jamaica? Or do we talk about Jamaica? Your flight delays?


Nicole Elliott  23:58

No, I think you’re definitely on the right track about hanging out into Jamaica. This is kind of one of those classic copywriting roles or recommendations, which is to focus on benefits, not features. So for example, if I’m, you know, one of the features of joining the six degrees membership is that, you know, they get access to X number of networking events per month, then you would want to kind of peel back the layer and describe what the benefit of that is. So that is that you have plenty of opportunities to network and meet new people and meet new clients and build connections or, you know, whatever, whatever that core benefit is there. That said, I think, I mean, again in coffee. I don’t generally think there’s hard and fast rules for a lot of things for some things, certainly, um, but depending on the audience you’re writing for, and if you know, sometimes you’re going to have people who really want that nitty ad and they also are going to want to know the how to. So you really have to structure your copy too, especially if you’re looking at like website copy where you don’t necessarily have as much control or insight into who’s coming to your website, you know, it could be all sorts of big range of people, you need to write for a variety of audiences. So I would recommend overall focusing on the big transformation, you know, that’s what belongs in your headlines in your sub heads. That’s the type of thing that your testimonials should be talking to.


Emily Merrell  25:27

It’s good to know about the trends about the testimonials in the sub heads, because I think I’m thinking about my own website right now. I’m like, I’ve totally buried this. Like, you scroll to the bottom, and then you can read the testimonials. I don’t think I don’t think I’d ever thought of. I don’t want to say it’s like wasted space. But I think there’s this fear about being braggadocious and being braggadocious in your copy. So how do you think that testimonials should like have their own space and time at the at the top?


Nicole Elliott  26:02

Yeah, so we’ll get to testimonials in just one second. Let’s just finish off the thought about the features from before. So as I said, you know, overall, you’re gonna focus on the transformation. But you’re also going to want to include that nitty gritty, whether that’s in like a Frequently Asked Questions section. So you don’t necessarily need to have all of the answers there, but at least have the question there so that someone can click to see the answer. So just make that information available for all types of audience or decision makers is probably the best way to put it. As to testimonials. Can I just like launch down a whole spiel? Okay, yeah, great. So this is one of my favorite ways to improve copy, which is a little people are always like, Wait, testimonials was it, it has to do with copy. But the reality is that there’s a lot more to social proof than meets the eye. And so I think many of us, myself included in the early days can be guilty of kind of just dropping testimonials, either exactly as they’re written, or perhaps lightly edited, into the social proof slot on your websites, or hide them as you’re saying, because they don’t want to brag. Um, and of course, any social proof is better than no social proof. And whatever social proof you have should definitely be front and center. So Emily, here’s my permission to you recommendation to you, okay, stuff. Um, but the real power of testimonials comes when you can use them to strategically backup whatever you’re saying. So if you think about I mean, we like learn this in school when you’re writing an essay in English. And you can’t just make a claim, and then not back it up with a citation or, you know, a source. And it’s really the same thing in your copy. So for example, you know, we are talking about focusing on the overall transformation, especially in the headlines and what have you. So let’s say you have a segment where you’re talking about the overall you know, end result kind of the before and after picture, if you can then follow that up with a testimonial, or a testimonial citation, you can think of it as that’s actually backing up your claim about that, it’s going to be much more powerful. So to give another example, like, let’s say you have a segment where you’re talking about a particular feature that’s really well loved, then follow that up with a testimonial, actually talking on that feature.


Emily Merrell  28:17

So can you use my website as an example, or like networking event, you’ve been to a networking event before. So like, my events bring together I could say like, they bring together founders, they bring together solopreneurs, they bring together side hustlers to find your next best friend, business partner, collaborator, XY and Z. And then I would lead into a testimonial from Nicole who was like, Oh, my God, it was amazing. Now, Susie and I are going skiing together. And she just hired me for her next book


Nicole Elliott  28:52

launch. Like that. Yeah, exactly. Okay, exactly that, you know, that said, I will say most people at this point are like, okay, Nicola, how do we actually get those testimonials? Which is a fair question. So I will start with the absolute worst thing you can do, which is just to ask your clients to give you an open ended testimonial, without any guidance. Don’t do that. And it’s difficult for them because they don’t know what to say. And it’s not going to give you kind of like what you can work with. So what I prefer to do, like when I did this for my own clients, I always interview you know, I’ve mentioned interviews at the beginning. I’m a big fan of interviews, there’s just all sorts of use cases for them. They’re super powerful and super valuable. But then when I, you know, with the interview, I can get the transcripts and then based on that I can write up a few different testimonial variations that suit any purpose. So whether that’s talking about a specific feature or addressing a common hesitation, talking about an issue with you know, alternative solutions or competitors. There’s just there’s a lot of options here. Or, alternatively, if you aren’t comfortable doing interviews of the very least you can Send a feedback form that’s asking a few, you know, really targeted questions just to help you kind of guide the details that the client is giving you. So then you can, you know, adjust and create testimonials that are still authentic, because it’s actual words that came from, you know, you’re not like changing the meaning or anything, but you’re just getting enough details you can do about that story and testimonials as needed.


Emily Merrell  30:21

I’ve heard also have someone prewriting testimonials for their client. I mean, like, Hi. And you know, based on the conversations we’ve had, I’m, I would love a testimonial from you, I know how busy you are. So I’ve gone ahead and I pre written something that you can adjust accordingly. But again, it hits all the marks that you want hit to support the claim that you had made beforehand. And then you can, you can add the testimonial. And I’ve done that with a few clients, and they’re like, Thank you for saving me the time to write what I was going to write and then they’ll maybe add a little bit more color or flavor into it. But generally speaking, it’s a win win solution for both of us.


Nicole Elliott  31:01

Yeah, that’s another great way to approach it, especially if you already know kind of what purpose testimonials serve. I guess the benefit of having the survey or the transcript is that then you can still adjust it and create, you know, additional variations later on. But yeah, that’s a great alternative as well.


Emily Merrell  31:17

Yeah. I like all those suggestions. Okay, we have to talk about chat, GBT. I feel like chat GPT or AI. The number one thing my PR girlfriends or people are, they’re either like, oh, my gosh, we are not gonna have a job anymore. Or we this is the best thing that’s happened to us since sliced bread. So how are you feeling about the introduction of AI and all these tools?


Nicole Elliott  31:42

Yeah, um, I mean, I will admit, there was a bit of initial panic when I first started hearing about it. And I’m, like, always ends with this building up for myself where thanks, thanks, English major. Yeah, right. Um, but I think I mean, it absolutely has its uses, I’m not gonna pretend like it doesn’t, it can be quite helpful for just like general idea. Exploration, or if maybe, you know, you’re playing around with different headline variations, you can do a pretty good job of things like that. But I’ve yet to see it be particularly useful with coming up with original ideas. So you know, maybe you’re really stuck on. You know, like, if you’re writing a blog, or something, and it’s a bit more of a high level blog, a little more surface level, and just kind of like a roundup of general advice like a listicle, it’s going to do a great job with that, because it doesn’t really good job, summarizing things and kind of compressing down and pulling from things that are already in existence. But this is where something you know, we talked about how important voice is and overall connection is, that’s not really something that at least I haven’t seen, where that it’s been able to replicate, super, super well. Know, if you want something if you want your copy, if you want your website to sound different from other things out there, chat GPT isn’t going to be able to do it, because the way it works is by pulling from, you know, all the other information out there that it’s been fed. So I mean, who’s to say where it’s going to go in the future? Um, I have actually I’ve tested a little bit even using it to edit, just shorten bits. I haven’t sometimes it works better than others. But you know, if you said, like, you’re mentioning someone before, or your husband who said got a compliment on his grammar, it definitely has purposes like that. But at least for now, if you want something unique and something voice See and that’s capturing your personality that’s going to need a human touch.


Emily Merrell  33:35

Agreed, and I everything that I’ve written on chat, GBT has to be kind of fluffed up a bit, or humanized, I’m like, Oh, great, you gave me the structure or the outline, or that you saved me a lot of time explaining everything I was going to explain. But now I’ll just write the human parts to it. And really my experience versus I mean, I don’t think it has its own experiences. It’s so scary. Actually. Fun fact, though, about it that has been so helpful is I’m planning a friend’s bachelorette party right now. And we have people coming in from LA and we have people from New York and from Denver, and it’s like, research places that will be convenient for these three places. Give me five options. I want it to be affordable. You know, what are three places that we can stay at in each city. And so stuff like that has been really helpful in planning road trips. Like you think about planning a road trip back in the day on Mapquest. And now we have gosh, don’t remind me, right, and you’re you miss the next set, and you were set? Yeah, you go to the gas station and ask them one direction to get somewhere like Wow, no wonder people were kidnapped.


Nicole Elliott  34:46

And then we’ll tell you the wrong direction. You’d have like three options to choose from just didn’t get you


Emily Merrell  34:50

anywhere. Totally. And you like had a map book. I mean, we’ll tell our children this one day and they’re gonna be I don’t understand the words you are saying No. But yes, that that has been very beneficial with the tool thus far in terms of a personal use case. Less writing more planning


Nicole Elliott  35:09

trips. Yeah, yeah, good for research purposes. Definitely. Yeah.


Emily Merrell  35:13

It’s kind of like taking your whole library and your Dewey Decimal decimal system and making. It’s like using Google, but being really aggregating Google. Yeah, that’s probably


Nicole Elliott  35:24

which does scare. I mean, if your like website or your brand is built around SEO and search engine, then it gets a little bit more frightening.


Emily Merrell  35:32

Yeah, yeah, I know so much to dig into your future. So Nicole, this was so helpful and I loved all of the tips especially the interviewing your ideal customer or your your already existing customer and creating that copy through the actual voice of the person who’s experiencing your brand. How can people find more of you, especially if they are at that place in their their business where they’re ready to seek out help?


Nicole Elliott  35:59

Yeah, absolutely. We can pop on over to my website. It’s www dot Nicole Elliott’s and Ico L E. And then Elliott with two L’s and two T’s dot com was already taken. Unfortunately. I’m also on LinkedIn. So if you go to my about page, I believe my LinkedIn should be linked there. If not, that is a mistake. And I should share that. So you know, the general public listening here, but I’ll just doing our best.


Emily Merrell  36:29

If you’re like, if you were perfect, you would be a robot? And that would


Nicole Elliott  36:32

be I want to be able to write good copies, let me no good at all.


Emily Merrell  36:36

Exactly. And then I want to know what kind of copy or what kind of people do you like to work with?


Nicole Elliott  36:43

I love working with industry experts. You know, whether they are they’ve been in some industry or you know, some type of work for a while, but then transitioning to their own business, kind of taking setting off on their own or people who are starting something new people who are really, really good at what they do, but are finding it hard to create that you know, clear messaging and compelling copy that is capturing their voice, their story, and of course resonating with their audience.


Emily Merrell  37:10

Love it. And Nicole, one of my favorite things is to ask some fast questions of you. Before we go. I asked you a lot of questions, but now I’m gonna ask them faster. So are you ready? I’m ready. Okay, tell us an unknown fun fact.


Nicole Elliott  37:26

About You. I speak somewhere between three and a half to five languages, depending on the day and on how much coffee, coffee, coffee. Coffee I have. I’ve clearly not had enough coffee


Emily Merrell  37:38

today. Wait three to five? Can you listen up for us? Please?


Nicole Elliott  37:43

Oh, yeah. So I don’t always give myself full credit. So I say three and a half to five. There’s a little half in there. But English, presumably, Spanish was the first foreign language I learned and then Portuguese would actually be my strongest foreign language because my husband is from Brazil. My French is passable since I lived in Belgium for a while. And since I already speak two Romance languages. It’s kind of like a cheat code to then learn another one. Yeah. And then Arabic is my real passion project, which I’ve been learning on and off for maybe six years.


Emily Merrell  38:12

Naturally Arabic falls right next to Spanish. It’s super easy. up I’m sure the letter very humbling experience


Nicole Elliott  38:19

to be honest. That’s amazing.


Emily Merrell  38:21

Good Note to self travel with Nicole. She’s the person to go with. Yes, I love it. Um, who would be a dream person to be connected with?


Nicole Elliott  38:32

I would love to be connected or to meet Joanna Wiebe from coffee hackers. She’s kind of the original conversion copywriter, if you will. She’s like very much my business slash copywriting crush. And she’s the first person I stumbled upon when I realized copywriting existed and her courses are wonderful. And I mean, I probably shouldn’t be recommending another copywriter on the show. You know, I’m shooting myself in the foot, although I don’t think she takes on client work anymore. But if you want to learn about copy, writing, definitely go to her copy. hackers.com


Emily Merrell  39:02

I love that. I haven’t heard of her before. So that’s a good one. It’s a new one. What show are you currently watching?


Nicole Elliott  39:08

My husband and I just finished twin peaks are the return season which is like 20 years after the original seasons. And it is very, very weird. Very weird. Maybe worth a watch if you’re it’s weird.


Emily Merrell  39:23

Like I have nightmares now. But you know, it was good.


Nicole Elliott  39:27

It was a little disturbing. I won’t pretend like I also won’t pretend like I actually understood at all. So it’s kind of a wild ride.


Emily Merrell  39:33

I’m really happy. You said that because there’s some TV shows and like, Is this supposed to make sense? Like, the storyline will then take a really weird turn and we’re like, we’re not going to question that that just happened. We’re just going to pretend we didn’t have that weirdness. Okay,


Nicole Elliott  39:48

like sometimes feels like the director of producers just kind of pulling your leg and seeing what they can get away with. complaining about


Emily Merrell  39:55

it but we never have to like check the mental state of these writers to You’d make sure that they’re okay doing okay. Yeah, there’s some darkness in there. Okay, Twin Peaks. We’ll check that out. What book are you reading? Or do you recommend reading?


Nicole Elliott  40:11

It’s totally unrelated to business. Is


Emily Merrell  40:13

that alright? Rate even better?


Nicole Elliott  40:15

I am currently reading a novel called The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolf. Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah, I didn’t even I didn’t know about it. But it was kind of an exchange I did with a friend of mine, because this is one of her favorite books. And in exchange, I gave her catch 22, which is one of my favorite books. But it’s I mean, it’s a fascinating book, like the voice. I’ve never read anything with this voice. So like, mildly funny and visceral and dark and hilarious, and disturbing and everything all at once.


Emily Merrell  40:46

If I’m remembering correctly, is this the one where he is the master of the universe? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And the car accident? Yep. Yeah. Okay, that’s all the spoilers. Yeah, that’s all the spoilers you’ll get. Yeah, I remember people referencing like, master the universe to finance bros in New York. I had no idea what that came from. And it came from from that book. But yeah, it’s a very humbling book. And I feel like I read it. I don’t remember when I read it. I don’t even 2012 2011 and just thinking how many topical things even though it’s written so so many years ago, like come back in our current nowadays?


Nicole Elliott  41:24

Yeah. I mean, it covers like a bit of everything, like heavy topics like racism, sexism, social class, overall culture and kind of toxicity around Wall Street. Yeah, it’s really unique.


Emily Merrell  41:34

Yeah, what a good throwback. I love that. Okay, what is your favorite emoji?


Nicole Elliott  41:42

The sparkle emoji?


Emily Merrell  41:44

Good. I love it. And then my final question for you is Who gave you permission or inspired you to do the thing that you wanted to do with your life?


Nicole Elliott  41:53

I would say I won’t say he gave me permission. But my husband’s definitely gave me you know, the inspiration and support and overall cheerleading I needed especially because he started his business and just generally working for himself a few years before I did. And was really patient you know, really like, going towards it really working hard, even though there was no money coming in for a while. And you know, he’s taking on other jobs. It’s just watching that determination, and realizing that that was an option for me. Really helps with that drive for sure.


Emily Merrell  42:24

I love that story. And I you’re like, Yeah, I’m gonna, I’m going to struggle to let’s do it.


Nicole Elliott  42:30

He was thankfully out of the struggle period before I got into mine.


Emily Merrell  42:34

You need to kind of balance that out. Well, Nicole, thank you so much for joining us on today’s episode of the 60 degree podcast was so great having you. Thanks again for having me, Emily. Yeah. And listeners. If you liked today’s episode, make sure to follow Nicole on LinkedIn, check out our website, and we will see you the next time on the sixth degree with Emily Merrell. Have a great day everyone.

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