As far back as I can remember about my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve always been searching for new methods or techniques to get sales.
Whether it was my earlier days cold-calling as a rookie insurance agent or shaking hands at networking events as an SEO consultant, it has always been about getting sales.
It wasn’t until I was first introduced to the world of professional sales copywriting that I began to realise, I had been chasing the medium. Not the source.
What I mean is…
My sales messages weren’t presented properly. I had the general idea of what I wanted to achieve but my delivery was all wrong!
It didn’t matter how many times or how often I announced it, people weren’t ever going to listen because it didn’t connect.
Here’s the funny thing…
Sometimes all you really need is a “structure” or in this case, a sales template or a formula to help keep the delivery in sync.
And over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to come across, learn, and devour possibly hundreds of copywriting formulas from different marketing gurus and experts.
To the novice copywriter, this may oftentimes keep overwhelming, hence I decided to focus on the 3 most important (in my opinion) copywriting templates that will help you draft out almost any kind of sales message.
First, Let Me Get This Marketing Formula Out of the Way
If you’re a student of any form of marketing, by now you would probably have heard of the AIDA formula. Simply put, AIDA stands for:
- Attention: Get your audience to notice you
- Interest: Keep them entertained to want to continue listening to you
- Desire: Get them excited to want to find out more about you (or whatever you’re selling)
- Action: Show them and ask them to commit to your next step
While the general idea of this formula makes perfect sense, my one tiny beef with it is…
You’re left feeling educated, but without a clue what to do next. After all, this formula lies heavily on the assumption that you already know enough about your target audience.
Sounds reasonable and logical, but most clients I know, haven’t done enough of their homework to begin dancing on their keyboards.
For example, we all know we need to capture our reader’s attention, but what will make them want to offer so much as a glance?
Or how about interest? What could we possibly write about to glue their eyes to the screen?
No doubt I have written about manipulation in sales copywriting before, but for the average business owner, most are untrained in the art of psychology. And without even a primary school level education, this formula will likely fly straight out the window.
#1. Strike Straight at the Heart Instead
Anyone who has been in the field of direct response copywriting will definitely know of the legends in the industry. And there’s no better person to quote than Magnetic Marketing founder, Dan Kennedy, renowned author, speaker, trainer, and marketing advisor for many companies.
One of the first things you’ll discover reading his books and programs is how he chooses to focus on marketing actions that deliver tangible results.
This means any marketing effort has to quickly achieve its desired goal and to do this effectively, the message has to penetrate deeply into the prospect’s heart.
With this understanding in mind, the PAS copywriting formula starts to make perfect sense.
- Problem: What keeps the reader worried all night? Every night?
- Agitate: What emotional episodes does the reader associate with this problem?
- Solve: How does your product or service help solve this problem?
Are you beginning to see why this template is way more effective?
Instantly, we have a focal point to dive into… our reader’s primary pain point.
For some industries, this problem to solve could be the struggle to pay the bills at the end of the month. For others, it could be the agonising doctor’s appointment. And for others, it could be the dreadful thought of putting ideas into words. (*hint hint)
Whichever the case, as the writer, you suddenly find yourself with much more content to talk about and best of all?
Your reader will naturally perk their ears up as what you have to say is highly relevant to their lives. Assuming of course that you’re giving them the answer to their struggle within the same article.
#2. Quickly Establish the Authority to Educate Them
Sometimes, just talking about the underlying problem they’re dealing with isn’t enough.
Especially in mature industries where “Industry Experts” is a dime a dozen.
They already know they have a problem to solve and they know they need to get it settled quickly. The problem is…
Who do they turn to for help?
For such sophisticated markets, I like to turn to another writing formula very effective in addressing mental sales obstacles. It’s derived from the 5W + 1H research method only we’re zooming in on just 1 of the Ws.
- Why You? – Why do I as a reader should listen to you?
- Why Me? – Why are you addressing this topic to me?
- Why This? – Why is this solution you’re providing so important?
- Why Now? – Why do I have to act immediately and not wait for a while?
This 4 Whys formula essentially rides on the PAS template and goes one step deeper into the hidden psyche a reader is thinking of. Unconsciously.
By answering the why’s that are locked up in the reader’s mind, we’re helping them to naturally come to a conclusion where our solution is the only and best answer to their problems.
Plus, the last section helps ensure that they know why and how to take the desired action we’ve planned out for them. This single step alone is the reason why any simple article writing service is rarely enough for persuasive purposes.
Factual and true information is useful when presenting a debate, but us human beings have a tendency to procrastinate, no matter how good the deal sounds.
The “call to action” is, therefore, the fuse to spur them into action. It could be a simple reason like an extra 10% savings during this sales period or something much subtler like losing out to a competitor just by waiting.
Ultimately, the goal is to give them a strongly compelling reason to act immediately.
“As you continue to ponder and decide whether you should hire a copywriter for your business, your competitors are already closing their 8th or 9th client for the day. And before you know it… they’ve established themselves as the leading player in the industry. Their brand recognition has gone up. Their client base has gone up. Their office size has just doubled again.
Worse part of all?
Some of these could have been YOUR clients.An example of a subtle CTA that doesn’t depend on scarcity to create urgency
#3. Cover All Grounds
Up to this point, we’ve been talking about shorter copies like FB ads copywriting where you don’t have the digital real estate to talk at lengths.
You’re still working on cementing that trust.
But what happens when they do signal the green light to “sell” to them?
In such a scenario, I say, go all in and give it everything you’ve got. And that means we need a sales formula that addresses every sales objection, credibility concerns, motivational issues, hot buttons, and urgency alarms.
And thankfully, we have another marketing genius, Perry Belcher, who came up with a comprehensive 21 step salesletter formula.
Naturally, it would take an entire day, not to mention a few articles to explain each and every one of this 21-step formula. But for your reference, here’s the formula with some additional pointers below:
- Call out to your audience – Let the right people know this message is for them
- Get their attention – Start with a message that is important to them
- Backup the big promise headline with a quick explanation – Support your claims with some facts
- Identify the problem – Show them you understand what they’re going through
- Provide the solution – Give them a compelling reason to continue listening to you
- Show pain of and cost of development – Help them understand why your product or service is worth what it costs
- Explain ease-of-use – Teach them how to use your solution
- Show speed of results – Let them know how quickly they can get the results they want
- Future cast – Help them visualise what this solution will do for them
- Show your credentials – Help them understand why you have the authority to help them
- Detail the benefits – What are the additional benefits they get from this solution?
- Get social proof – Have others already benefitted from this solution? Who are they?
- Make your offer – What are you giving them today for having listened to you?
- Add bonuses – What else will they get on top of the solution?
- Build up your value – What makes you different from your competitors?
- Reveal your price – What makes this price point so attractive for them?
- Inject scarcity (if any) – Is there a reason they should act now?
- Give guarantee – What risk reversals are you offering them for trusting you?
- Call to action – How should they proceed from here?
- Give a warning – What is likely to happen if they still decide not to take any action?
- Close with a reminder – Summarise the main points that you’ve just told them
Phew, that’s long!
Thankfully we don’t always have to use every single one of them. It does take some practice and know-how to decide which steps to skip. But in general, that’s about as comprehensive as you could possibly get.
In fact, if you’ve attended copywriting workshops or courses (at least in Singapore) most trainers are using a variation of this formula.
Nothing wrong with that, but I just believe in giving the proper credit where it’s due.
Most importantly, you want to make sure you know how to properly use the formula and not produce a lifeless piece of content no one is ever going to read.
That’s where having the right mentor who can guide you and show you the way is crucial for success.
Start Writing with a Template
At the end of the day, we could strategise about templates and formulas, or discuss about different training methods and tactics…
But personally, I’ve always found the best way to learn something is to actually jump right in and get our “hands dirty”.
Start with the PAS template and set a target of writing 300 words addressing each of these points. Then as you get more familiar with the process, move on to the 4 Whys formula, and finally the 21-step salesletter formula.
Go ahead, give it a whirl and do keep me posted.