7 Copywriting Formulas for Every Situation
Whether you are an experienced copywriter or an anxious amateur who wants to promote your business, getting to grips with a few standard copywriting formulas can save you time and help you get better results, even if you don’t have literary genius stamped across your business card.
Here are my seven favourite all-time copywriting formulas that can be applied to just about every writing situation you can think of.
PAS stands for Problem, Agitate, Solution.
This is the gold standard of copywriting formulas and a big part of its appeal is its simplicity. This easy formula is great for landing pages and short form sales copy and it can also be expanded on and used to structure longer articles and blog posts. It works like this:
1. Problem – This is the issue your customers are dealing with, the reason they would seek out your product or service in the first place.
2. Agitate – expand on it to make it worse. Focus on the impact this problem has on the reader’s life at an emotional level to draw them in and make a connection.
3. Solution – this is the knight in shining armour that you can provide to sweep in and make it all better.
Here’s an example of how it works:
Problem: Are you having trouble sleeping at night?
Agitate: Insomnia not only causes tiredness, it affects every area of your life, and if left untreated can lead to ongoing health problems, relationship issues, depression and anxiety.
Solution: Perfect Sleep Clinics instant insomnia cure can help you can beat insomnia and enjoy your life again. Just one tablet and you will drift off into a natural, peaceful sleep, wake up refreshed and get your life back on track.
The four Ps
The four Ps are: Picture, Promise, Prove, Push.
Another great formula that takes a more positive approach to engaging readers than PAS. It works by creating an appealing vision and then showing your readers how they can make that a reality. Very good for problem solving blog posts but it can be equally applied to sales copy, marketing emails and even social media updates.
1. Picture – create a scenario that will appeal to your readers. This should be something they aspire to and that will be highly motivational to them.
2. Promise – here’s where you tell them that you can help them make this vision a reality. This can be by reading the rest of your post, by purchasing a product or service or by contacting them to find out more.
3. Prove – add weight to your claims by providing proof, either through scientific means or research, testimonials or any other evidence you can think of. If you’re writing an informational blog post, this would be where you assert your expertise and tell them the nuts and bolts of how it’s done.
4. Push – the call to action. Here is where you urge the reader to buy now, contact you, share the post or whatever else you want them to do.
This formula focuses on painting a picture of your reader in the present, usually while they are experiencing a particular problem or issue. You don’t just want to focus on the problem at the surface level, you really want to dig in to how it is impacting their life on an emotional level. This is the “before”.
Once you have dug in to what they are experiencing and how it is making them feel you can present them with a hypothetical future scenario which is more appealing. This is the “after”.
The main body of the text is then spent explaining how they can get between the two, either by using your advice, your product or your services.
Here’s an example:
Before: Is balancing the books taking up hours of your time each month? Do you feel like you are on a relentless treadmill with no time for yourself? Business owners often feel like they should be doing everything themselves, but trying to manage your own accounting can not only lead to burnout, it can also cost your business at tax time.
After: Imagine if you could free up all that time to work on your business, doing what you do best and put an end to the accounting mistakes that cost your business money each year.
Bridge: Hiring us to do your accounting can take a load off your shoulders and save you money. Here’s how…
This one is great for product descriptions but can also be applied to a range of other scenarios. FAB stands for Features, Advantages, Benefits. When writing about products or services many writers include the features and the advantages, but they often miss out on the benefits which can be the most compelling factor of all. Put simply:
Features: what the product or service has or includes, (“New toothpick with adjustable sizing!”).
Advantages: why this is a good thing, (“Gets food out from the smallest of spaces!”).
Benefits: how these features will actually help the customer and improve their lives, (“Enjoy the extra confidence that comes with having a perfect smile!”)
This is often considered the most tried and tested copywriting formula, and no list would be complete without it. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. AIDA is highly versatile and is great for direct response, landing pages, sales copy and just about everything else.
Attention: This is where you get the reader’s attention, usually with an eye catching headline.
Interest: Once you have their attention the next step is to reel them in and generate interest. This involves a good lead in which compels the reader to continue. Stories often work well here but whatever you choose it should have the reader hooked by the next section.
Desire: This is where you expand on the benefits of whatever you are proposing, especially how it is going to benefit your reader’s life.
Action: This is where you encourage the reader to take the next step, whether it’s subscribing, purchasing or contacting you for more information. This is a good place to create a sense of urgency and scarcity or push any special offers you have going on at the time.
This formula works on the idea of telling a compelling story to build an emotional connection with your reader - it's really good for case studies.
Star – this could be you, someone you know, another business or even a celebrity. This person or entity is struggling with a problem that your readers are likely to be familiar with. You start by introducing the person and briefly mentioning their problem.
Story – here you go into the problem in depth, how it started, how it is affecting the star and how it would be likely to impact them if it continues.
Solution – this is where you explain how the star’s problem was solved (using the product or service you are promoting).
This formula is great for situations where you really want to engage with your audience and draw them in on an emotional level. Done well it can be very compelling and effective as it evokes emotion and makes you highly relatable.
SLAP stands for Stop, Look, Act, Purchase and it’s more of a checklist that you can use to make sure your writing matches up than a formula for creating sales copy. Before you publish or distribute anything you’ve written, evaluate whether it makes the reader:
Stop – is it attention grabbing?
Look – does it maintain their attention and keep them looking?
Act – does it encourage the reader to take positive action?
Purchase – is there a clear call to action compelling them to make a purchase?
When it comes to successful copywriting formulas can be helpful but the most important factor is that you write to the needs of your audience. Knowing what their pain points are, and how your products can help them solve their problems are absolutely essential if you want to get results.