Copywriting is equal parts art and science, and just like any science if you want a specific outcome it helps to know the formula. While there are a number of both battle-tested and brand spanking new copywriting tips and formulas in existence, there are a handful that translate especially well to forms of content outside of advertising and sales. While AIDA is considered by many to be the ultimate formula, there are actually several others that work for marketing and other content, not just sales and advertising.
Following is a selection of both traditional and newer copywriting formulas that are sure to engage your readers and grow your audience.
The classic PAS copywriting formula captures the essence of every salespersons pitch throughout all of time. The formula goes like this:
- Problem. This is where you put the issue on the table. Talk about how it affects your reader, and establish an emotional connection with your audience that hooks them and makes them want to read more.
- Agitate the problem. Step 2 is the fun part where you get to go into specifics about the problem at hand.. Empathize and make it personal by discussing how it has adversely affected you or the industry in general. Use examples and link to sources that will back up your ideas.
- Trot out the solution. At this point, your audience should be shaking their heads in disbelief at how bad the problem is, or at least nodding in agreement. Now you get to be the hero, since you have the solution. You had it all along; your readers were banking on it. Everything else was a trail of breadcrumbs leading up to the big reveal.
This copywriting formula stands for Features, Advantages, and Benefits. While at first glance it appears to be a prime candidate for writing product descriptions, it is in fact an excellent strategy for introducing a new idea, or to present an old idea in a new light.
For example, let’s say you are writing a blog post entitle 7 Reasons Red Couches are the Hot New Trend. You aren’t necessarily solving a problem, so PAS doesn’t come into play, although some couples might want to disagree. What you are mostly doing is making a case for red couches, so using the FAB formula let’s you start talking it up right out of the gate. Example:
- Features. Red couches come in all styles, from traditional to modern, and in every shade from lipstick to burgundy.
- Advantages. No matter which style you prefer, choosing such an inherently bold color will make a decor statement.
- Benefits. Such a bold statement piece gives you the freedom to really jazz up the space with equally bold accents, or make your couch the focal point by sprinkling more subdued pieces to complement.
This is another sales-based copywriting formula that translates well when applied to content marketing.
- Picture. Paint a picture that gets attention and creates desire for your product, service or idea.
- Promise. Describe how your product/service/idea will deliver.
- Prove. Provide support for your promise by way of trusted sources or demonstrations.
- Push. Ask your reader to commit, otherwise known as a call to action (CTA).
4. Star. Story. Solution.
This formula is about as simple as it gets, and is especially effective when applied to content you intend to share on social media. In fact, it is probably my favorite copywriting strategy and my go-to solution for generating ideas.
- Star. In this copywriting formula, you get to write the scene, and the main character or your story is the star. The star can be anything from a product or service to an idea or even the reader.
- Story. This is where you want to create tension, explain a problem (like Agitate in the PAS formula), and set the scene for your Star to make a grand entrance.
- Solution. The story has been told, the problem has been outlined, and now you are free to demonstrate how your star is the solution.
Originally created as an advertising formula for copywriting, this one also lends itself well to other content. It goes like this:
- Star. This is your opening—make it a positive and upbeat one that gets attention.Pick a star, or hero, or whatever product/service/idea you are presenting, and hitch your wagon to it.
- Chain. Create a chain of facts, sources, benefits and reasons the reader should turn their interest into attention.
- Hook. Now that you’ve garnered first their interest then their attention, hook your readers will a strong call to action.
6. The String of Pearls
While this is classified as a copywriting formula, it is more of a method than anything you need to memorize. Essentially, the idea is write a series of small stories, details, or “pearls” that could each stand alone, then string them together to create a larger, more persuasive story that will elicit an emotional response in your reader.
The listicle is one good example of using The String of Pearls to good effect. Each item in the list is one good reason or story in and of itself, but is even stronger when combined with other similar stories.
- Awareness. Present the situation or problem. Create an awareness of it.
- Comprehension. Help your reader understand the details and how it does or will affect them, and explain that you have the solution.
- Conviction. Create a desire and conviction in your reader to use your solution.
- Action. Again, as always, create a strong call to action that harnesses the power of your readers conviction to utilize your solution and share it with others.
8. The Fan Dancer
I’m specifically addressing headlines with this copywriting formula. Just like the dance it is named for, The Fan Dancer technique is used to entice readers without actually revealing anything. Use The Fan Dancer copywriting formula to write an enticing headline and back it up with engaging content.
9. A Forest
Finally, I bring you what is really a formula for remembering time-tested copywriting components that will transfer over to any kind of content. Not sure your content is enticing or memorable? Remember A Forest:
- Threes (Repeat something three times to make it memorable.)
There you have it! Every copywriter has their favorite tricks and tools of the trade. I know these to be very effective and a few of them are in my regular toolbox. How about you? Would you add anything to the mix?