So you’ve started your own business and now it’s time to work on your website.
Coming up with the design (or picking a theme) was easy, but naming your business and filling in the pages with copy and content…now, that’s another story.
The good news is, “the curse of the blinking cursor” can be solved with the help of tested (and proven!) copywriting formulas, which means all you have to do is apply them to your pages and POOF! You’ve got yourself a website with words and everything, my friend.
One thing I want to mention: while there are countless copywriting formulas (well, maybe not countless — according to this article from Copyhackers, there’s about 50, though I’m not sure, I got tired of counting ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), I’ve highlighted 3 of my faves below that could be a great place for you to start.
I also include a little “guide” with each formula explaining when you should use each one; that part is really more of my personal opinion, but hopefully it helps you understand the subtle nuances between the 3 formulas.
Oh, and by the way, I also cover these formulas (and a whole lot of other sales-related tips) in this FREE eBook I just wrote for withcoach.com. It’s for digital product creators (aka people selling online courses, eBooks, etc) so if that sounds like you, this eBook may be for you (did I mention it’s free? Oh, I did? Just checking 😜 ).
Okay, let’s get into it!
Formula #1: AIDCA
When to use this formula: this formula is great for selling yourself, your services, or any type of product — it encompasses the basics of an effective sales page in a conversion-focused hierarchy. If this is your first time writing or optimizing your sales page copy, I’d recommend starting here.
Here’s how it works:
- Attention: hook the reader with a bold statement or question.
- Interest: engage the reader with unusual, counter-intuitive, or fresh information; describe the problem the reader wants to solve.
- Desire: stroke the reader’s wants/needs/emotions, highlight the benefits of your product, and make the question of “what’s in it for me?” as clear as day.
- Conviction: prove that your product is for them (customer testimonials, case studies, rating/reviews, money-back guarantee, etc).
- Action: tell the reader how to obtain your offer (clearly and concisely).
Here’s an example of what this formula looks like when applied to a sales page (I wrote this as a version of my sales page for one of my other eBooks, From Full-time to Freelance):
Attention — first, I grab the reader’s attention by stating their problem AND the solution in one line:
Interest — next, I agitate the problem by focusing on rapid fire questions about how the reader may be currently feeling (I could easily go in deeper here, but this is just an example):
Desire — next, I highlight everything the reader wants, using the book itself as the solution for how he/she will achieve the desired outcomes:
Conviction —at this point, the reader may be very interested, but he/she may still have reservations — knowing this, I pop in a money-back guarantee, as well as testimonials from happy customers:
Action — finally, I express what the reader may be feeling (he/she may be feeling “stuck” or like life is passing him/her by) and push the eBook as the solution to escaping that negative situation:
Now, this is just an example I quickly wrote for the purposes of this article — I could have easily pushed further in certain areas (especially in the “interest” section, for example), but that’s where testing comes in handy.
By putting your sales page out into the world, you can begin gathering data on what is/isn’t working, then easily adjust as needed.
Okay, onto Formula #2!
Formula #2: The 4 Ps
When to use this formula: this formula is great for when you’re selling to a customer whose suffering or aspirations you’ve experienced yourself (or have a deep understanding of). If you have the right customer insights (or want to experiment with your sales page copy), give this formula try.
Here’s how it works:
- Picture: create a vivid story or scene where the prospect’s pain points or aspirational future exist; make it easy for him/her to insert themselves into your story or scene.
- Promise: explain why your product will bring an end to the prospect’s pain or bring an aspiration future.
- Prove: assuage doubts by demonstrating that you’ll make good on your promise (customer testimonials, money-back guarantee, etc).
- Push: nudge the prospect to take action in a clear and concise way.
I use this formula on my sales page for my eBook because I have a good understanding of what someone who’s considering going freelance may be thinking or feeling when they land on my sales page.
Here’s how I laid it out…
Picture — I open the page by describing a scene that may feel familiar to my audience (a “Sunday scaries” scenario), which something I’ve definitely experienced myself:
Promise — Next, I explain how the eBook will help the audience achieve the results they’re looking for (turn their passion into a business + quit their job) and make it clear that I’m available at every stage in the process:
Prove — using real testimonials, I prove to the audience that the product not only works for people like them, but by linking to my customer’s businesses, it shows that the eBook (at least in some way) helped push them to where they are now:
Push —finally, it’s time to address the audience’s last reservations or doubts. At this point, they may be thinking, “I’m interested, but…”, which is where something like a money-back guarantee and/or a final “push” statement (where you reiterate the product benefits “live the life you want!”) can help:
This example of the formula could easily be longer or shorter in certain areas. For example, I could further agitate “the problem” by giving more detail around the “Sunday scaries” scene (or mention a different situation altogether), or I could beef up the “Push” area to really drive home the product benefits and how the customer’s life is going to change.
For now, this version of the formula works for me, and with Coach, I can easily update it at any time, A/B test different versions, or make tweaks as data rolls in.
The Star Story Solution
When to use this formula: this formula is great for when you’re selling to an apprehensive customer. Why? Stories help customers relate to the “character” in the story, can help soften a sales pitch, and when done right, can engage the customer from beginning to end.
Here’s how it works:
- Introduce the star of the story: the “star” is the customer or a made up character that’s similar to him/her.
- Tell the star’s story: talk about the star’s pain points, struggles, and why he/she must make a change; focus on the aspirations, wants, and needs of the character ensuring everything connects back to that of the real customer.
- Present the solution that helped the star achieve big things: explain why your product is the solution to the star’s problems or the way he/she will achieve great things.
While I recommend using this formula for an “apprehensive customer,” that should by no means restrict you from trying or testing this or any of the other copywriting formulas mentioned (and not mentioned!) in this article.
It’s all a game of testing to see what will work best for you, your services, product, company, etc, so don’t be afraid to try new things, even if you’re not sure what will work.
Here’s how I used this formula in my eBook example:
Introduce the star of the story — in this example, I’m using a story about Abby, who is actually one of my customers. While I embellished some of the details for the purpose of this example, you’ll notice that the style is very story/character-driven, drawing out specific details of Abby’s experience that I think will most appeal to the reader:
Tell the star’s story —in this example, there’s some overlap between the “introduction” of the star and her story, and that’s OK. The most important part is telling a cohesive narrative that clearly highlights the character’s problems, and how they used your product as the solution:
Present the solution that helped the star achieve big things — again, there’s some overlap between this part of the formula and the last (plus I added a bit more of the “conviction” part we learned from an earlier formula), but mostly, I try to focus on how Abby used the book to find success/achieve great things in her own life. I finish it off with a testimonial quote from Abby herself to add a level of authenticity to the story:
I finished off this example with similar copy from the previous two formulas (like the money-back guarantee and the final “push” statement, which my apologies, got slightly cutoff), which *gasp* is allowed!
These formulas are not meant to be rigid or unchangeable — think of them more as guides to help you figure out messaging hierarchy and what to include (or not include) on your pages.
Which formula will you try?
Of these 3 formulas covered, which do you think would work best for your own homepage, sales page, landing page, etc?
Do you have your own copywriting formula you use? I’d love to know more! Share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.