Copywriting is the art of salesmanship through the written word. Because of that, over time, there have been several copywriting formulas designed to improve the chances of closing deals through sales letters and advertisements.
I have found two articles that list a number of those formulas, and clearly explain them to you.
Kevan Lee wrote the first article for Buffer, titled 27 Best Copywriting Formulas: How to Tell a Captivating Story Online. This report – as the title suggests – presents 27 copywriting formulas you can use to grab a reader’s attention. It also offers some quotes from different literary devices to inspire you into writing better copy.
The second article comes from WordStream, written by Lisa Smith. This article titled 5 Tried-and-True Formulas to Take Your Copywriting to the Next Level, presents five formulas to produce simple, yet effective, copy. Lisa also expands on what makes good copywriting, as well as why copywriters should learn copywriting formulas – even though you won’t always need them.
3 Copywriting Formulas
Drawing from the two articles I mentioned, as well as my experience as a direct response copywriter, I have picked three formulas that I feel you – as a direct marketer – should know and understand to decide what’s good copy, and what isn’t.
The 4 P’s (Promise. Picture. Proof. Push)
You may have heard of the marketing mix (Product. Placement. Promotion. Price). But AWAI copywriters have 4 Ps of our own: Promise. Picture. Proof. Push.
For direct marketers, this formula works excellently when it comes to presenting the Big Idea to an audience. But how does it work?
You start with your Promise. It presents the big idea – what your readers will get out of getting what you’re offering. Make that promise focusing on a particular fear or desire that your reader has. The quests for wealth and health are something quite common within the direct marketing group as promises to make. But there are other approaches you can take to make your marketing stand out. Like focusing on the fear of losing what the reader has worked so hard to obtain.
After you make your promise, then paint a Picture of what the reader’s lives will be like when they buy your product or hire your services. Cement the desire your audience could have for your offer. Create as clear an image as you can of the prospect receiving help from buying your product or hiring your services.
Once you have painted the picture of your market living a better life thanks to your offer, you then solidify that picture with Proof of your claims. This is where your intellectual side takes over and you present the numbers that back up your claims. Stats and trends can work excellently when promoting stocks. And testimonials are key when service professionals are trying to lock-in new clients. One thing you need to make sure is that your audience can easily gain access to the proof you provide. That will earn you extra credibility with your market – because honesty seems so hard to come by these days. Be certain you give truth to your audience on every turn.
And finally, you make clear, specific call-to-action in your Push. This is your final offer, make it appealing and easy-to-understand. And don’t miss a step in the buying process.
If you are having trouble structuring your idea for an advertisement, try and use the 4 Ps to create a compelling presentation.
A.I.D.A (Attention. Interest. Desire. Action)
Another copy-structure idea you can use for your advertising is the AIDA formula – Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.
I learned this formula from Bob Bly’s book, The Copywriter’s Handbook. And it has paid great dividends for me.
The concept of the AIDA formula is quite easy to understand. First, you use your headline to get your audience’s Attention. Do this by presenting the reader something they’d like to know.
Then you go into keeping their Interest with your lead paragraphs. You can tell a story, share some secrets, or invite your reader to an exclusive event. Just give them something that keeps them hooked.
Once you have the audience interested in what you offer, then it’s time to water their mouths by presenting them the benefits they will get from reaching your offer. That will increase the level of Desire your reader will have to buy your product, and all of you must do is guide them through the buying process.
And guiding them through the buying process is the last step of this formula (Action). Make sure your audience clearly understands what they need to do next to get your product. Whether it is signing a contract, clicking a button, or sending money – guide the reader through the entire process.
AIDA is a formula you will find in many advertisements from yesterday and today. It’s a formula that’s battle-tested. And it should be on your marketing toolbox to use when needed.
The 4 U’s (Urgent. Useful. Unique. Ultra-Specific)
Another formula I learned from The Copywriter’s Handbook, but 4 Us is not a copy-structure formula. Rather, it’s a headline-producing formula.
Many advertisers underestimate the power of the headline. And that is because they like to present titles that are more entertaining – funny and cute. That doesn’t work in advertising. With the 4 Us, however, you will design a headliner that will get your market’s attention. And that is the sole purpose of your headline.
Your headline should:
- present a sense of Urgency to the reader – the reader should get a real reason they must read your advertisement NOW and buy your offer ASAP.
- communicate something Useful – something the reader considers of true value.
- suggest that your offer is Unique – your product or service is different than everyone else’s.
- be Ultra-Specific – avoid being uncertain at all costs.
The most important part of your copy is the headline. If it sucks, then it doesn’t matter how great your ad is – people won’t read it. Make sure you deliver great headlines. Use the four Us.
Bonus: The Hero’s Journey (Shine. Heat. Comeback. Finish)
For sticking with me this far, I will give you an extra formula that you can use to enhance your sales and marketing copy.
The Hero’s Journey is a basic – but highly effective – form of storytelling. This is a formula you can use when you want to keep your audience’s interest in a more round-about way.
To make The Hero’s Journey work, you must remember that your marketing is all about the consumer. Therefore, you must tell a story that the consumer empathizes with.
Start by putting a shine on the qualities that make the prospect capable of succeeding. It could be knowledge, experience, or any other trait that presents the prospect as competent.
Then, put as much heat as you can on the problem you will solve. Making it seem – within the realms of reality – that this problem is an immense challenge. And one challenge the prospect will need to overcome if they wish to move forward with their aspirations of reaching wealth. Seldomly, you can put on a “hope spot”, to remind the reader that our hero is capable, but the problem is too complicated for the prospect to deal with on their own.
After you finish putting heat on the problem, it’s time for our hero to mount a comeback. Explain – step by step – exactly how the protagonist was able to solve the problem. Put on as many details as possible.
And to close it off, finish the story by giving a glimpse of our hero’s life after solving the problem. Just how happy they are after conducting their assignment. That’d give the reader a sense of feeling for what they could get if they solve the same issue.
This formula is the perfect setup for you to generate interest for a product you need to generate value for. It’s storytelling 101 – but works like a charm.
4 Copywriting Formulas to Improve Your Marketing Campaigns
Starting today, you should have four copywriting formulas to use when you need to produce persuasive content. The four U’s will help you create attention-grabbing headlines, while The Hero’s Journey can generate interesting leads. And the AIDA and 4 P’s formulas will help you structure your sales copy appealingly and persuasively.
Do you have a comment, suggestion, or question about copywriting formulas? Leave a comment explaining your side of things. And if you think this article could be useful to someone you know, feel free to share it with them!