Copywriting is both broad in scope and narrow in focus. While it can take many forms — ads, brochures, taglines, social media posts — it has one consistent goal: to sell a product or service.
That makes copywriting a unique, and sometimes frustrating, form of writing. It differs from writing other forms of content that might be part of a marketing strategy without overtly selling anything. Copywriting requires you to step into the customer’s shoes to envision where they are in their buying journey, then write something that will resonate with the buyer at that point.
Copywriting is an art form with a dash of science: The writer must create something that will hook the reader, but generally follows specific guidelines and proven recipes for success. There are two key formulas used by copywriters to craft compelling copy.
The 1-2-3-4 Formula
Great for writing persuasive copy, the 1-2-3-4 formula (also called benefit–feature writing) is a simple way to let the reader know why they should buy the product or service.
- Tell the reader what you’ve got. This part of the copy is descriptive and to-the-point. You can rope in your brand promise for a subtle sell, but overall, you should focus on answering the consumer’s first question: What is this? Example: A comprehensive guide to the formulas that copywriters need to succeed.
- Elaborate on the benefits. This part of the copy is where you can make strong promises and help the customer envision what their life will be like with your product or service. Share anything special or unique about your offering, and use active, second-person language to hook the reader. Example: You’ll feel more capable and confident in tackling your next copywriting project!
- Establish your authority. This part of the copy is where you can relate to the reader — but still position yourself as an expert in the topic. Strike a balance between sympathizing with the consumer in their stage of the buyer’s journey and convincing them that they need your wisdom. Example: From my 10 years of experience, I know how frustrating copywriting can be.
- Give a call-to-action. This part of the copy is where you give the reader a next step to take. See how you’ve walked them through their buyer’s journey? Now you need to convince them to make the purchase. Make your CTA short and result-oriented. Example: Learn how to be a better copywriter now!
The Problem-Agitate-Solve Formula
This formula is flexible enough to be deployed in a wide range of formats. Even this blog article uses it. The idea is to introduce a problem that you know your prospect has. In this case, it’s the frustration that you don’t know as much about copywriting as you’d like, and you need to be a better copywriter.
Next, you “agitate” by stirring up the issue. Make the customer envision a world without your solution. What will happen if you don’t read this article about copywriting? You’ll have to move forward without information that could help you improve your work!
Finally, offer the solution. Your prospect has questions, you’ve got answers. You can provide them with the tools, resources, and motivation they need to take the next step in their buyer’s journey.
These formulas can provide you with a structure in which to write your brilliant copy. They double as tools to help you imagine what the prospective customers wants and needs, so that you can tap into those. Of course, you should ensure that you’re writing in a style and format that suits the audience and platform. Still, if you look closely at any compelling blog article, Facebook ad, or brochure, you’ll probably see the skeletal structure of one of these formulas. That’s where the science of copywriting comes in: These formulas are tried-and-true. All you have to do is add your art.