How I Met Your Story: 12 Copywriting Formulas for Heroik Content

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You’ve heard it said from every corner of the web and media world, that content is king and that storytelling is essential to drawing the audience and driving engagement. But just how do you go about crafting that content? How do you use storytelling to craft articles and beyond?

There are many formulas to organize and present content, here are 12 of our favorites for persuasive purposes:

The Basics

1. BAB: Before After Bridge

2. PAS: Problem Agitate Solve

3. FAB: Features, Advantages, Benefits

Sales/Marketing

4. Use UP-WORDS: Universal Picture Words, Or Relatable, Descriptive Sentences

5. The 4 Question Formula for Persuasive Copy

6. The 4P’s – Picture – Promise – Prove – Push (PPPP)

7. Address The 5 Basic Objections

8. AICPBSAWN – Great for Landing Pages

Story Telling

9. Heroik Chain & Hook

10. The 3 Reasons Why

11. Write with one person specific person in mind.

12. The 5 Point Heroik Approach

These formulas can also be used as status updates and preludes with links to blog articles, whitepapers, ebooks etc. In the details below and for the sake of brevity, I’ll be sharing examples of how to use these formulas in their more compressed forms.

The Basics

The following three formulas are great for social updates to introduce blogs, email headers, etc. These basic ideas can peak interest and engage the masses. These work in similar fashion to the headline formulas and can also be used to build out the whole of the content piece, article or book you’re working on.

1. BAB: Before, After, Bridge

  • Before – Describe the world as it is, identify the problem(s)
  • After – Describe what it would be like if the problem didn’t exist
  • Bridge – Describe the solution, and how to get there

Example:

  • Building a loyal following takes time. Imagine getting it done in 1 hour per month Here’s How http://…
  • Riding dolphins at top speed can be tricky. Imagine if all you had to do was hold on Get your dolphin saddles here http://….
  • Pickles don’t pickle themselves. Or do they? Check out the pickled pickler http://…

2. PAS: Problem, Agitate, Solve

  • Problem – Describe the problem
  • Agitate – Describe what will happen if the problem persists; agitate the problem
  • Solve – Provide the solution

Examples:

  • Writing great content is tough. It’s hard to make it resonate. Find out how to create #kickass content here http://…
  • Bees are dying in droves around the globe. This could wipe out or food supply. And this could fix it http://…
  • Reaching your customers is expensive. And when you do, they often ignore you. Here are 7 ways to engage and maintain interest

3. FAB: Features, Advantages, Benefits

  • Features – Describe what you, the person, or product can do
  • Advantages – Explain why this is helpful
  • Benefits – What this means for the reader

Examples:

  • The new Roomba can automatically and autonomously vacuum your entire home, freeing you to enjoy more time with the family
  • The Tesla model D is an electric car that can go 0-60 in 3.1 seconds. It can also drive itself allowing you to sit back and enjoy the ride in the perfect get away car

Sales/Marketing

4. Use UP-WORDS: Universal Picture Words Or Relatable, Descriptive Sentences

This is a neat one from popular copywriter Michel Fortin. He’s found that up-words are those that describe words that instill imagery in the minds of readers to help add concrete meaning to marketing messages. This is basically a reminder to use picture words, mental imagery, metaphors, analogies, examples, allegories, etc., so that your audience can quickly and easily relate to and grasp your message and its meaning.

Examples:

  • Our product is worth every penny
  • The new Godzilla is taller than the Statue of Liberty in 60 foot high heels
  • The whale was longer than a football field, and whiter than a career politician

5. The 4 Question Formula for Persuasive Copy

  1. What I’ve got for you
  2. What it’s going to do for you
  3. Who am I?
  4. What you need to do next

This is yet another 4 part formula made popular by Copyblogger. It’s another way of telling the story and explaining the benefits. Then it’s time to sell the reader on your authority on the subject. And lastly, explain who you are and why people should believe you, to finish it up.

Example:

  • I’ve got a knuckle sandwich
  • that’s going to brighten up your day
  • I’m Mike Tyson
  • and you need to hold still

Another Example:

  • This great coffee mug
  • keeps your favorite beverage hot or cold all day. It connects to your phone via bluetooth, reads the weather forecast out loud, and tracks your fitness activity while you hold it
  • At Barstucks, we believe in creating coffee awesome
  • Get yours today

6. The 4P’s: Picture – Promise – Prove – Push (PPPP)

  • Picture – Paint a picture that gets attention and creates desire
  • Promise – Describe how your product/service/idea will deliver
  • Prove – Provide support for your promise
  • Push – Ask your reader to commit

Many of these formulas involve getting the audience to imagine a desirable outcome. The 4P’s model follows up the imagined result with specific ways describing how the product/service can help, along with some evidence or proof that it does. The Push is another way of describing the call to action.

Example:

Imagine sandy beaches and mojitos for your 9-5. Wifi and this laptop can take you there. Check it out… http://…

7. Address The 5 Basic Objections

  1. Lack of time – I don’t have enough time
  2. Lack of money – I can’t afford it
  3. Problem/solution mismatch – It won’t work for me
  4. Lack of trust – I don’t believe you
  5. Perception that the solution isn’t truly needed – I don’t need it

The odds are that you yourself have easily drummed up objections and excuses not to read some content. Usually, those objections fall into one of the 5 buckets. If you keep them in mind as you write, perhaps you can address a few of them, all of them, or even one, and you’ll be on the right track. For tweets and status updates, you may only be able to address one or two.

Example:  

Subject: You Have to Try Our Wacky Waving Arm Flailing Inflatable Tube Men

Problem/Solution Fit: If you’re looking for better ways to attract more customers to your business, this is a simple, cost-effective solution that is easy to set up.

Price: At $45, they’re a bargain. For the cost of one day of a sign waiver, you can have your own Wacky, Waving, Arm Flailing Inflatable Tube Man working for you 24/7 365 days a year.

Trust: 4 out of 5 dentists agree that they boost attention to their business.

Need & Cost: 65% of dentists in your area are using Wacky, Waving, Arm Flailing, Inflatable Tube Men to grow their business. Can you afford not to?

Storytelling

8. AICPBSAWN – Great for Landing Pages

  • Attention – State the biggest benefit, or biggest problem you can solve, AKA your unique selling position
  • Interest – Reasons why they should care
  • Credibility – Why they should believe you
  • Prove – Prove your claims as true (3rd party validation or source)
  • Benefits – Use bullets to list all the benefits
  • Scarcity – Create scarcity (why things are in short supply and moving quickly)
  • Action – Tell them exactly what to do next
  • Warn – Describe what will happen if they don’t act
  • Now – Motivate them to take action now

This one is a mouthful and obviously not a good acronym. But for you folks out there who crave specificity, this is it. It’s also great for landing/product pages. Finding the unique angle to pitch your product/service/idea is key.

For social updates where there’s a limit on characters, choose a few of these when sharing in confined spaces.

Short Example: Big Sale! 85% off the Apple Store. Tim Cook has gone insane! Stores are getting raided. Get there ASAP!

Longer, and fun example: An Ethical Dilemma Noir

  • Attention – Calling all Cars!
  • Interest – A suspect in a bank robbery appears to have crashed his car.  And there’s an untold amount of unmarked bills on the scene
  • Credibility – HQ Confirms that the vehicle in the crash matches the description of the vehicle fleeing the scene of the robbery
  • Prove – The bank manager confirms that all their money is missing
  • Benefits – Unfortunately, the bank records were destroyed in the robbery so it’s impossible to confirm the amount of money missing
  • Scarcity – All units are on their way, state police are 10 minutes away!
  • Action – You’d better get there fast and “secure” the scene
  • Warn – Any money recovered will be confiscated as evidence and useless the market
  • Now – Christmas is right around the corner so get there quickly!

9. Heroik Chain & Hook

Hero– Your customers new found success thanks to your empowering product/service/idea

Chain – A series of facts, sources, benefits, and reasons

Hook – The call to action

The key element of this formula is two fold. First, get your audience to imagine the result and impact of the solution or idea for which you’re advocating. Second, focus on adding lots of protein (quality content) to the chain. It is intended to take a reader from interested to attentive. The right facts, sources, benefits, and reasons can help get them there.

Long Example:

Imagine having a legendary brand that not only charges your batteries, but inspires your customers to get involved with you personally as well as with your business. Imagine empowering your team with a brand that is viewed as an achievement in and of itself; drawing in prospects to your team, impressed by their character. Imagine a growth engine for your business that creates such demand that you could choose your customers. And to top it off, your brand is based on their needs which fit with the values and culture of your company.

Legendary brands start with a story. People come together to build something great. However, sometimes legendary brands can unravel if they’re not first solidified. Over time, the founders often forget their core values and become disconnected from the story that united their original vision. And as a result, their success can suffer.

According to recent Gallup polls:

  • 63% of managers do not believe that they know the values of their company or what makes their product unique
  • 43% of executives do not believe that they know the values of their company or what makes their product unique

These are the people steering the ship. In organizations with these kinds of numbers, what is the likelihood of creating products/services that live up to the promises, and embody the values of the brand? Not good.

Further, these polls were based on executives and managers willing to admit that they don’t know their brand. Imagine all the ones who wouldn’t admit that, or don’t know that they don’t know. Those numbers spike up quite a bit. Are you willing to admit what you don’t know?

Do you know the story of your brand, the values of your culture and what makes your product/service unique? Could your company use a refresher? We can help.

Heroik Media brings legendary brands to life. We bring brands back into alignment with their promises and rich culture. We reconnect them with the legend that made them great, and can make them great again.

Schedule your free cup of clarity meeting with the Heroik team today. Legendary brands start with a story. Start yours now.

10. The 3 Reasons Why

  • Why are you the best?
  • Why should I believe you?
  • Why should I buy right now?

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark has an uber question that combines all three that will spark a great response. “Why should I buy from you at all when I understand your competition better than you do, and there’s no difference?”

Example Answers

  1. Heroik has a unique methodology that does not rely on confining contracts or shackling business tactics. Preserving your freedom and flexibility is at the core of our products, services and culture.
  2. We pride ourselves in showing you how our culture and values are in play and integrated into our practices, products and services.
  3. The market to elevate any brand is becoming increasingly competitive and complex. You need an advocate you can trust who can help bring your brand to life and build your growth engine and ideas from thought to profit. That’s our firm. That’s what we do. That’s who we are. That’s Heroik.
  4. Answer the more complex, differentiating question: In a world of complex problems, there are many solution providers that claim to address the complex problem but fall far short of holding themselves accountable for the impact, result, or return of their contribution. Though they market themselves as problem solvers, they’re most often problem servicers. They treat symptoms and often you don’t know it until you’re well into your contract term. They sell spinner rims and call it a car while their clients continue to struggle to succeed. We’re quite different. We’re in it for the long haul and bountiful relationships. We show this by sticking around for and co-owning the results. And throughout the engagement, we provide pivot points to improve the big result and impact.

11. Write with one specific person in mind.

Good copy, content or advertising is written from one individual to another. Think of one specific person, your ideal reader. Imagine them vividly. Use marketing personas to help you. Write to that one person and that person alone.

If you have trouble imagining one specific person here are a few quick tips and considerations:

Step into their shoes.

Think about your ideal reader and step into their shoes. This will help you build a sense of your target audience/marketing personas. Write several statements that start with:

I am…

I care about….

I value…

I like…

I hate…

My big problem is…

My big goal is…

Example: I am 29 years old. I am an ambitious entrepreneur with a beautiful wife, 2 dogs, and a mortgage. I care about quality of life, productivity and meaningful work. I hate bullshit as a verb, as noun, and all its various forms in business and personal areas. My big problem is that most post industrial business models do not support what I care about. My big goal is to build better business models that result in adding value to the market, my life, my loved ones and my community.

Now. Write a blog post as if you’re writing to me, email me a link and I’ll be the first to comment. nmcgill@getheroik.com

Choose a smart partner or trusted advisor who challenges you, and write to them. Address their concerns and points.

Who do you respect that also challenges you? Who are your channel partners working in adjacent models? Who are the leaders and advisors you’ve rounded up? Write to them. Often their concerns and values overlap with those of your target audience. Focusing on them allows you to accomplish several things. You can respectfully address their viewpoints and concerns, pay homage to their values, and you can address their needs and counterpoints. Simply by considering someone you like and respect who challenges you, will improve the quality and structure of your writing.

12. The 5 Point Heroik Approach

  1. Position your prospect as a potential hero.
  2. Describe their problem.
  3. Declare a shared moral value.
  4. Position yourself/service/brand as a mentor/solution provider.
  5. Close with the very next step, pitch or call to action.

Other versions of this, position the brand or solution as the hero, and it often has minimal effect. Empowering others to call upon their own inner hero as you guide them to adopt your position is a far more effective approach.

Example:

  1. (Heroik Potential) The Force is strong with you. You could become a Jedi.
  2. (Describe the Problem) There’s no one here who can teach you how to harness your potential.
  3. (Declare a shared moral value) The Force makes us strong.  It is all that is good and empowering. It surrounds us and binds us together.
  4. (Position yourself as a mentor) I can teach you the Ways of the Force.
  5. (Describe the solution or next step) You must come with me to Alderaan if you are to learn the ways of the force.