Over the years, copywriters and marketers came up with dozens marketing formulas which provide them with a framework they can use to create a copy that converts. Some of them follow those formulas religiously while others like to experiment and mix.
One of the most popular formulas is AIDA (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action). If you don’t know a lot about marketing, you might have heard about it in the (now considered a classic) Alec Baldwin’s Glengarry Glen Ross speech. Other commonly used include ACCA (Awareness – Comprehension – Conviction – Action) 4Cs (Clear – Concise – Compelling – Credible) and the PAS formula (Problem – Agitate – Solve).
Of course, a formula alone will merely help you structure your copy. But if you don’t give a hint of a solution to the problem of your audience, your text won’t sell. Unfortunately, many marketers forget about that. And yet helping your audience is one of the fastest ways to establishing a strong, long-lasting relationship.
How to Find a Problem that You Can Solve?
Even if you are a Michelangelo of copywriting, capable of writing the most beautiful copy in the whole world, if all that it offers is pure beauty, it adds very little value to your business.
If you don’t research, understand, and address the needs of your audience in it, you won’t make them interested. And without interest, there won’t be any desire or action (conversion).
Luckily, you don’t have to be a full-time copywriter or own a market research agency to learn about your potential customers. Let’s go over the fundamental steps that you need to follow in order to find the real motivations of your audience.
Who will read the content?
First, think about the consumer. What is an average customer of your business like? List everything – age, gender, hobbies, occupation, family and social status. Write down everything. How do you imagine their day? How do they get to work? What do you think is the main problem your product helps them solve?
To speed up the process, create a so-called buyer persona. I’ll not go too much into details here because there are many good articles on the topic. Check out this Buffer guide if you need guidance.
Remember that if you’re writing an article for your own blog, you probably know your customers well. But, even then, it’s good to spend at least 30 minutes brainstorming. Who knows, maybe there’s something about your customers that you’ve been missing all this time?
Hint: If you don’t collect any information about your customers, start doing it. Even a simple survey in exchange for a small gift or a discount can provide you with insight that could multiply your revenue.
What is their biggest motivation?
If you haven’t already listed that when creating buyer’s persona, it’s time for brainstorming motivations of your customers. Are their motivations positive or negative? Are they driven by fear (for example, of losing their job or facing financial hardships)?
Or is their problem a lot more casual and positive? For example, they’d like to improve their golf swing or learn a new programming language, and you happen to offer online courses on the topic?
Can they understand your message?
Now that you know what your average customers are like, think about the language you’re going to use when speaking to them. Make sure that you choose language and words they can understand. Why is it so important?
If your average customer is a Ph.D. or has a higher degree, you won’t use the same copy that you’d use to address a stay-at-home mom. This works the other way round. You don’t want to put off potential clients by using too complex or too informal copy.
Before we go to the framework you can use to show your customers how you can help them solve their problems, take a look at potential goals a simple blog post can achieve.
Picking the right goal for your text
Every piece of content is written to solve a particular problem. This is true even for a simple news article, the goal of which is to provide the reader with useful information and satisfy his curiosity. The same applies to blog posts. Think of a listicle such as “10 best spoons to eat your soup with”.
There are at least four goals this article can achieve (and problems it can solve):
- Satisfy one’s curiosity
- Improve one’s life
- Help pick the right product
Sometimes the article will help satisfy only one of the above needs. For example, if you run an entertainment website, that’d be #1 and #2. But what if you own an e-commerce store selling spoons?
In this case, the results you want to achieve are closer to #3 and #4. An example of this would be an article helping your audience choose the best spoon without having to waste time and money searching for a good spoon.
Of course, a spoon is just an example. I can’t really think of anyone typing in “how to pick the right spoon” into Google – I might even check the search volume for this keyword one day. But now, let’s move on to the formula – how to help your customer solve their problem?
Is There Any Formula to Solve Problems with?
Each of many marketing models creates a slightly different path for your customers to follow. They all focus on similar triggers but can show them in a variety of ways, emphasizing different aspects of your product or service. There are formulas that focus specifically on finding, highlighting and solving a problem. An excellent example of such model is the PAS formula (Problem – Agitate – Solve). If you follow the formula step-by-step you will:
- Identify a problem.
- Agitate that problem.
- Provide a solution to that problem.
First, you have to introduce a problem to the reader. What’s their biggest pain point that your offer can solve? Once you find it, it’s time to ask questions and provide examples to agitate it. Make your readers dream about the solution.
After you make them ready to throw their money at you, it’s time for a grand finale! Hand them the solution they want so badly on a silver platter. Who’d have guessed it’s exactly what you offer.
When used right, PAS can be super effective. It’s no surprise that Dan Kennedy, a legendary direct marketer and copywriter once called it the most reliable sales formula ever invented. That’s why it’s so often used to create high-converting landing pages and sales letters.
But these are not the only types of content where you can use it. It can be used anywhere where you need to sell something. And, because you’re always selling (a product, a sign-up, a click to your website), it can be used even on social media.
What could you possibly sell your users on Facebook or Twitter? It’s simple – the idea of clicking a link to an article that contains a solution to their problem. Imagine that you wrote a post called “How to burn your belly fat like a champ.” In this case, PAS would look like that:
PAS – Long Example:
P: Are you all tired of your huge belly? Are you ashamed of that big ball under your shirt? You’re not alone – thousands of men are trying tens of routines to get rid of belly fat – and they all fail!
A: Wouldn’t it be great to go to the beach without all those judgemental looks? You will never feel confident and attractive unless you change something in your life…
S: There’s something you can do. Don’t let your belly fat ruin your self-esteem. Start losing belly fat now. Fit in your favorite shirts and become attractive once again. Read this post to find out how.
PAS – Short Example:
(P) Ashamed of your belly fat? (A) Keep feeling unattractive or (S) do something about it. Check http://yoursite.com
What is the problem here? No, it’s not about the belly fat itself. The problem is feeling ashamed and unattractive.
Men with huge bellies don’t care specifically about the size of their belly – at least not until they have the need to increase their attractiveness. Even health concerns aren’t as strong as the thought of not looking good. No wonder that more single than married men do something to get rid of that big ball.
Solving Problems in Marketing: It’s Not All About The Formula
Naturally, you can show people solutions to their problems without using PAS or any other formula. But using one of them will be more effective and can help you a lot. It’ll serve you as a roadmap towards creating a converting copy.
At the end of the day, it’s all about conversions and sales. If you want your copy to convert, you have to do a lot more than just present a solution.
Establishing authority, building trust and warming up your visitors are other, equally important factors. But if you won’t guide your readers towards the end-goal, trust and authority won’t help you. And that’s what formula such as PAS can help you achieve.