I say if you’re going to do something like archiving KILLER copywriting formulas, it’s worth overdoing every once in a while.
Most marketers know the AIDA copywriting formula–Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. (It’s the equivalent of playing the 12-Bar blues pattern on guitar. EVERY guitarist knows it.)
When it comes to copywriting formulas,
AIDA’s the standard, but not the only one.
There are many more. What’s really great is depending on what you’re trying to accomplish or the product and service are offering, one WILL outperform others.
Some copywriting formulas outlined below have been passed down long before I was born. Many times you’ll find them buried in a long-lost book on marketing or copywriting. In other words, they’re tried-and-true, have stood the test of time and most importantly, merciless testing.
(BONUS: If you run your product or service through this gauntlet of different copywriting formulas, you’ll be delightfully surprised one or two of the formulas are perfect match for what you’re trying to accomplish.)
Take a look and see which one of these copywriting formulas works best for your application:
21 Incredible Copywriting Formulas
#1 of 21 Copywriting Formulas:
The most swiped (and simplest) of copywriting formulas:
- 1. What I’ve got for you
- 2. What it’s going to do for you
- 3. Who am I?
- 4. What you need to do next
SSS: Star. Story. Solution.
- Star: The star is the main character in your copy. It could be you, a celebrity, a customer or what have you.
- Story: Talks about how the “STAR” went through the same problem as your market does right now.
- Solution: Demonstrates how the star used your product/service to solve this problem.
A great demonstration of this formula can be seen in Gary Halbert’s ad “The amazing diet secret of a desperate housewife”.
PAS: Problem. Aggravate. Solve. This is one of Dan Kennedy’s favorite copywriting formulas.
- Problem: Start by talking about a particular problem your market has right now (enter the conversation already in his head).
- Aggravate: Intensify the consequences of this problem (create a desire for the solution).
- Solution: Show the reader how, and why your particular product solves their problem (channel the demand onto your product).
Here’s an interesting variation shared by Sean Mitchell:
- 1. State the problem
- 2. Agitate the F out of it
- 3. Discredit other solutions
- 4. Que the music, part the clouds and show up on your white horse with the answer to their problems…
Bob Serling’s Power Copywriting Formula:
- Prerequisite #1: You Must Have A Quality Product
- Prerequisite #2: Creating And Using The Ideal Customer Profile
- Prerequisite #3: Credibility Produces Maximum Profits
- Prerequisite #4: The Offer is Everything
- Step #1:You must conduct exhaustively thorough research before you ever write a word of copy
- Step #2: Rest and percolate
- Step #3: Create a comprehensive list of features, facts, and figures
- Step #4: List every benefit your customer will get
- Step #5: Create an irresistible offer
- Step #6: Create an extraordinary guarantee
- Step #7: Write a powerful, attention seizing headline
- Step #8: Use color to accentuate key points
- Step #9: Keep the amount of graphics you use extremely limited
- Step #10: Create a no-holds barred opening paragraph that immediately begins to deliver on the promise made in your headline
- Step #11: Eliminate all objections with “Pre-emptive Strike Credibility”
- Step #12: Create enticing sub-heads that maintain your reader’s
interest and pull them through your sales piece
- Step #13: In order to present the most powerful sales pitch possible, you must make your customers acutely aware of their most deeply felt pain
- Step #14: Eliminate your customer’s pain completely
- Step #15: You must establish impeccable credentials with your customers
- Step #16: Lock in your credibility with an “insider’s” benefit
- Step #17: Give your customers unquestionable proof that you can
deliver everything you promise
- Step #18: Use “Click Bridges” to break your copy up into manageable, readable chunks
- Step #19: Give your customers a powerful bullet list of benefits they get by using your product
- Step #20: Briefly summarize your key benefits
- Step #21: List the features of your product
- Step #22: Over-deliver with a highly valuable package no reasonable customer will want to miss out on
- Step #23: State the price of your product
- Step #24: Issue your call to action
- Step #25: Increase your profits with a Piggy-back Offer
- Step #26: “Shift the Risk” to close more sales
- Step #27: Bring your sales piece to a close by summarizing all the major benefits your customer gets
- Step #28: Increase your response even further by using a PS
- Step #29: Make it easy for people to order
- Step #30: Avoid all links that take your customers away from your site
- Step #31: Rest and Percolate – a second time
- Step #32: Check and rewrite your copy for maximum impact
Of all copywriting formulas, Brian Keith Voiles is fond of this one:
- A – Attention – Biggest benefit, biggest problem you can solve, USP
- I – Interest – Reason why they should be interested in what you have to say
- C – Credibility – Reason why they should believe you
- P – Prove – Prove what you are claiming is true
- B – Benefits – List them all (use bullets)
- S – Scarcity – Create scarcity
- A – Action – Tell them precisely what to do
- W – Warn – What will happen if they don’t take action
- N – Now – Motivate them to take action now
This one came from one of Gary Halbert’s newsletters:
- 1. Say something that gets attention.
- 2. Tell them why they should be interested. (Expand on CSI)
- 3. Tell them why they should believe what you are saying is true.
- 4. Prove it is true.
- 5. Itemize and describe all benefits.
- 6. Tell them how to order.
- 7. Tell them to order now.
The ACCA of copywriting formulas —
This is similar to AIDA, but “Comprehension” stresses the importance of clarity and understanding, which is vital for any persuasive message. Also, “Conviction” is much stronger than (just) “Desire.” It suggests certainty.
This is another AIDA variation by Robert Collier. Intended for sales letters, it outlines what he thought was the correct sales sequence.
Interest-Desire-Conviction-Action — Yet another AIDA variation, this one from Earle A. Buckley.
AAPPA — The master marketer Victor O. Schwab suggested this commonsense and clear formula. Get Attention. Show people an Advantage. Prove it. Persuade people to grasp this advantage. Ask for action.
AIU — This is my own formula for envelopes. It stands for Attention, Interest, Urgency. Something about an envelope must get your Attention, whether it’s teaser copy, graphics, or just blank paper. This should lead to interest in the contests and urgency to open the envelope immediately.
PPPP — This is a formula by Henry Hoke, Sr. It stands for Picture, Promise, Prove, Push. Picture: Get attention early and create a desire.
Promise: Make a meaningful promise, describe benefits and what the item will do.
Prove: Demonstrate the value and support your promise with testimonials.
Push: Ask for the order.
Star-Chain-Hook — This is Frank Dignan’s approach an advertising message. Hitch your wagon to a Star with an attention-getting opening that is positive and upbeat. Create a Chain of convincing facts, benefits, and reasons and transform attention into interest and interest into desire. Then, Hook them with a powerful call to action, making it easy to respond.
ABC Checklist — William Steinhardt’s formula is more detailed than most and very practical. Attain Attention, Bang out Benefits, Create verbal pictures, Describe success incidents, Endorse with testimonials, Feature special details, Gild with values, Honor claims with guarantees, Inject action in reader, Jell with postscript.
String of Pearls — This is a particular method of writing copy. The idea is that you assemble details and string them together in a long line, one after another. Each “pearl” is complete in some way, but when you string them together, their persuasive power becomes overwhelming.
Cluster of Diamonds — Similar to the String of Pearls, this formula suggests assembling a group of details under an umbrella concept. For example, an ad might have the headline “7 Reasons Why You’ll Save Money With XYZ.” The copy would then list these 7 reasons. Each detail is like a “diamond” in a gold setting.
The Fan Dancer — The idea is to tantalize with specific details that never reveal any actual information. Lot’s of teaser “bullets.” As with a fan dancer, you’re left wanting more.
The Five-Point Copywriting Formula – Jack Lacy offers this guideline often used for sales letters:
- 1. What will you do for me if I listen to your story?
- 2. How are you going to do this?
- 3. Who is responsible for the promises you make?
- 4. Who have you done this for?
- 5. What will it cost me?
The Nine-Point Formula — A detailed sales letter copywriting formula from Frank Egner:
- 1. Start with a headline (or first paragraph) to get attention and arouse desire.
- 2. Follow with an inspirational lead.
- 3. Give a clear definition of the product.
- 4. Tell a success story about the product.
- 5. Include testimonials and endorsements.
- 6. List special features.
- 7. Present a statement of value to the prospect.
- 8. Use specific and urgent action copy.
- 9. End with a postscript.
Bob Stone’s The Seven-Step Copywriting Formula for sales letters:
- 1. Promise your most important benefit in your headline or first paragraph.
- 2. Immediately enlarge upon your most important benefit.
- 3. Tell the reader specifically what he or she is going to get.
- 4. Back up your statements with proof and endorsements.
- 5. Tell the reader what might be lost if he or she doesn’t act.
- 6. Rephrase your prominent benefits in your closing.
- 7. Incite immediate action.
DDPC Formula: (A colleague recently i8nquired this “sleeper.” When you all the places it’s used, you’ll be blown away.
- D for dramatic.
- D for descriptive.
- P for Persuasive.
- C for Clinching.
Bus Reed Formula:
- B for Benefits.
- C for Currency.
- F for Fascinating.
- S for Star. Storytelling is your weapon here.
- C for Chain. The customer’s trap starts.
- H for Hook. The fish is hooked… And the sales done.
Kenneth Goode Formula:
- C for Crystal. An clear and bargain offer.
- M for Magnet. You’ll attract your clients. Stay attractive.
- E for Elevator. You’ll build up your sale… like you up the floor.
Craig Clemens Sales Letter Formula:
- Questions that show you understand and push buttons.
- Powerful analogy or story.
- It’s not your fault and there’s hope.
- Give away content.
- What is it I’m offering? What’s in it?
- Bullets points/benefits
- Who needs it? Who doesn’t?
- What makes it different?
- Wrap up.
- A guarantee.
- A close.
- A signature.
- Your P.S.
- Your testimonials
Perry Belcher’s 21 Part Sales Letter Formula:
- 1. Call out to your audience
- 2. Get their attention
- 3. Backup the big promise headline with an quick explanation (SUB)
- 4. Identify the problem
- 5. Provide the solution
- 6. Show pain of and cost of development
- 7. Explain ease-of-use
- 8. Show speed to results
- 9. Future cast
- 10. Show your credentials
- 11. Detail the benefits
- 12. Get social proof
- 13. Make your offer
- 14. Add bonuses
- 15. Build up your value
- 16. Reveal your price (pop by button)
- 17. Inject scarcity (if any)
- 18. Give guarantee
- 19. Call to action
- 20. Give a warning
- 21. Close with a reminder
#27 of 21 Copywriting Formulas:
“Elements of an Offer” Formula:
- Here’s What You’re Gonna Get
- Establish the Value
- Offer a (Conditional) Bonus
- Trivialize Price
- Risk Reversal
#28 of 21 Copywriting Formulas:
Common Video Sales Letter Template:
- 1. Attention Grabbing Greeting
- 2. Identify Problem AND Promise to Solve It
- 3. Establish Scarcity – This won’t be available for ever
- 4. Aggravate the Problem – Twist the knife so that it forces them to take action
- 5. Provide the Solution (Your Product)
- 6. Present the Features and Benefits of your Product
- 7. Call To Action #1 (Desire Based Call-To-Action)
- 8. Present Your Credentials (Proof, results, examples, testimonials, etc)
- 9. Give the Guarantee
- 10. Call To Action #2 (Logic Based Desire Based Call-To-Action)
- 11. Give Warnings (Deadline, Scarcity, Guilt)
- 12. Call To Action #3 (Fear Based Desire Based Call-To-Action)
#29 of 21 Copywriting Formulas:
Lisa Manyan’s take on the “problem, agitate, solve” formula. (Specifically geared towards women):
- 1. Challenge.
- 2. Solution.
- 3. Invitation.
#30 of 21 Copywriting Formulas:
Brian McLeod’s HELLYEAH Copywriting Formula:
- H – Holler at ‘em – Gain their attention
- E – Empathize with ‘em – give them some back story
- L – Lambast the *******s that created the problem they’re having
- L – Legwork – show ‘em that you walk the walk (prove it)
- Y – Yes, there is a solution, and you have it…
- E – Educate them on why your solution is the best fit for them
- A – Action – demand that they take it, right now
- H – Handle any lingering doubt or objections with risk reversal
#31 of 21 Copywriting Formulas:
‘A Forest’ Not Exactly a formula, but an easy way to remember some tricks of the trade:
- A – Alliteration
- F – Facts
- O – Opinions
- R – Repetition / Rhetorical Questions
- E – Examples / Experts
- S – Statistics
- T – Rule of three (Repeat something 3 times for it to stick in peoples heads)
SCAMPER is an acronym created by Alex Osbourne and in Gary’s Bencivenga’s words:
“Will mulitply your producitivity 11 fold”:
- S = SUBSTITUTE (a new, surprising or more contemporary element for a tried and true one).
- C = COMBINE (successful elements from two or more different sources).
- A = ADAPT (a winning headline, product, offer, etc. from another product category).
- M = MODIFY, MINIFY OR MAGNIFY (any element).
- P = PUT to other uses (who else can use this and why?)
- E = ELIMINATE (one or more of the elements that have always been included, and see what happens).
- R = REARRANGE, REVERSE OR REDEFINE (any part or the product, selling process or problem you’re confronted with).
#33 of 21 Copywriting Formulas:
From Gordon Jay Alexander, here’s a pictogram he uses:
(“I like attention, interest, desire, conclusion, action and SATISFACTION, and the S in the formula is what builds a business over making a one off sale. “)
There. Yeah, there’s more than 21 copywriting formulas. So what? I’m a copywriter, not a mathematician.