The Wonderful World of Copywriting Formulas


Copywriting formulas help you organize your writing so you can make the most persuasive impact on your readers.

And one of the most popular copywriting formulas is AIDA. (No, not the opera.)

Created by Elias St. Elmo Lewis back in the early 1900s, AIDA focuses on:

  • Attracting the Attention of the audience.
  • Creating Interest and Desire.
  • Encouraging readers to take Action such as requesting more information, purchasing a product or service, etc.

Below is an example of this formula in action.

Copywriting Formulas AIDA

Other Copywriting Formulas

There are countless other copywriting formulas out there, including:

  • SSS: Star. Story. Solution.

In this formula, the Star is the main character of your copy, and the Story addresses how the Star faces a problem with the Solution being how the Star used your product to solve the problem.

  • PAS: Problem. Aggravate. Solve.

With PAS, you start by identifying a Problem the reader is facing, then Aggravate the problem by focusing on consequences caused by the problem so you create a desire for a solution.  Then you present the Solution and explain how it works to solve the problem.

Now, if you’re starting to notice a pattern here, you would be correct.  A lot of the formulas are playing off the same theme – problem, solution, and offer.

And speaking of which…

My Favorite Copywriting Formula

When I started writing, I was working with retailers and found that P — S — O  (Problem — Solution — Offer) was extremely effective.

By starting off with a problem the reader is facing, you immediately build empathy and interest because you are showing you really know them and the challenges they face.

Then presenting a unique solution to that problem shows the reader that you are there to help them, rather than simply trying to push a sale.

And extending an offer or call to action tells them what they need to do to get the solution they so desperately need.

Now, there can be some extra elements in the piece.  For example, mentioning some well-known customers that can attest to the value of your product or service.  And going beyond just naming them, having actual testimonials can be highly effective.

PSO Copywriting Formula

A Little Secret About Copywriting Formulas

None of these formulas are magical.  Your success is not guaranteed when you use them.

What makes the formulas work is your knowledge of the reader. If you don’t know what pain points they have, your copy won’t be relevant to them.

And when it comes to short-form or long-form copywriting, the same thing applies – if you know your audience, you know how they speak and what they are interested in, so the length of your copy will come from that knowledge.

I remember working with a creative team on a project for Time Warner Books where the copywriter was using long-form copy.  To be honest, I was bored with the copy after a couple of paragraphs – mostly because I wasn’t interested in the topic, with a little bit of “can you get to the point, please” tossed in for good measure.

Fortunately, the copywriter on the project was a nice person and he took a few minutes to explain that the audience loved to read about the topic, and they saw these direct mail pieces as a valuable part of their decision-making process in investing in the book series.

His insights came from focus groups with subscribers – and it opened my eyes to the importance of knowing your audience.

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