8+ Proven Copywriting Formulas (& Examples) to Write Like a Pro

Copywriting formulas are to copywriters what lightsabers are to Jedi knights.

They can help you blast through even the most stubborn writer’s block and turn a “meh” piece of text into compelling copy that produces the desired results for your client.

Great copy makes you feel like the writer knows Jedi mind tricks — how else could they get inside your head so effectively?

In this article, I’ll show you how to use the copywriter’s equivalent of the Force to consistently write copy that converts and I’ll also provide examples.

Use these nine formulas anywhere you need to write effective copy: social media posts, sales copyemail marketingblog posts, and more.

Let’s dive in.

The 9 Best Copywriting Formulas Used by Pros

There are lots of copywriting formulas, but many are virtually the same. To save you time, we sifted out duplicate and mediocre formulas to give you an ultimate guide.

Let’s start with FAB.

1. FAB: Features – Advantages – Benefits

copywritng formulas FAB

Your target audience doesn’t want to read a long, boring list of features. They want to know why they need your product or service and what it can do for them. 

Use the FAB copywriting formula to show them. It works well as a headline formula and is also great for social media marketing and content writing. 

This motivating sequence piques the reader’s interest and builds toward the climax — the benefits they crave.

The FAB copywriting formula has three simple steps.

Step 1: Features — What your product does.

Questions to consider:

  • What is the main feature of your product or service?
  • What does it do to provide value for your potential customer?

Step 2: Advantages — How the features help the reader.

Questions to consider:

Step 3: Benefits — Why it matters.

Questions to consider:

  • How does your solution improve their life?

Now let’s look at how copywriters may use this formula in advertisements.

FAB Example

“Our noise-canceling earplugs (FEATURE) block out 80% of noise (ADVANTAGE), so you can finally get a decent night’s sleep.” (BENEFITS)

You can use this formula to write copy of different lengths, from a single sentence to a long sales letter.

2. PAS: Pain – Agitation – Solution

copywriting formulas pas

The PAS copywriting formula is one of the most popular copywriting formulas. You can find it everywhere, including headlines.

Here are its three steps:

Step 1: Pain — Identify your reader’s pain points.

Questions to consider:

  • What problem does your reader currently face?
  • How do they feel about that problem?
  • Do they wish their life were different? 

Step 2: Agitation — Use emotion to agitate the pain point.

Questions to consider:

  • What emotions are connected to the pain point?
  • What does the person fear will happen if this situation persists?

Step 3: Solution — Tell the reader you have the solution to their problem.

Questions to consider: 

  • What situation do they want to prevent?
  • How would they like to feel?
  • What is their ideal outcome?

Finally, turn your answers into influential copy like this.

PAS Example

“Your team members secretly resent you (PROBLEM). Don’t lose your best people (AGITATION) — download our employee burnout prevention guide.” (SOLUTION)

The PAS formula is common in political attack ads. However, formulas such as the next one are more positive.

3. BAB: Before – After – Bridge

copywriting formulas bab

This copywriting formula shows your prospect where they are and where they want to go — and how your product or service helps them get what they want.

These steps help you create quality copy:

Step 1: Before — Empathize with your reader’s situation.

Questions to consider:

  • What do they want and need?
  • How do they feel about their life?

Step 2: After — Describe what the reader wants and make them feel like they have it.

Questions to consider:

  • What success stories would the reader relate to?
  • What pictures would help?
  • What power words will communicate the right emotion?

Step 3: Bridge — Explain how the reader can get what they desire.

Questions to consider:

  • What does the process look like?
  • What results can they reasonably expect and what is the timeline?
  • What does your company sell to help with this process?

In contrast to PAS, this copywriting formula provides hope for the future rather than negative emotion about the present situation. 

BAB Example

“Do you struggle with low back pain? Is it difficult to be active during the day — or get out of bed? That can be frustrating. (BEFORE) You deserve to be with loved ones while traveling, playing sports, and enjoying the weather. (AFTER)

Now there’s hope.

While results vary, over 50% of patients who use our customized foot orthotics report significantly decreased pain and improved mobility within 30 days.” (BRIDGE)

Here’s another BAB example from Aiia:

copywriting formulas aiia

Notice how this copywriting formula works for various industries. 

Speaking of variety, we’re moving on to four-letter acronyms and even looking at numbers (but fortunately there’s no math).

4. The 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 Formula

This simple sequence is powerful. Here’s how to use it.

Step 1: What you sell.

Questions to consider:

  • What is your product or service?
  • Who is it for?

Step 2: How it helps the reader.

Questions to consider: 

  • What does your product or service do?
  • Why does the reader need it?
  • How will it improve their lives?

Step 3: Who you are.

Questions to consider:

  • What qualifies you to sell this product or service?
  • How can you establish credibility and trust?
  • Do you have social proof such as testimonials?

Step 4: What the reader needs to do next.

Questions to consider:

  • How do you want the reader to act?
  • What would be a powerful call to action (CTA)?
  • How can you make that action effortless?

Tip: scarcity — such as a limited-time offer — helps to motivate the reader to act.

This is how a copywriter might act to apply this formula.

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 Example

Life Begins After Divorce is a self-guided workbook that will help you rebuild your life after divorce. (1: WHAT THEY HAVE FOR YOU)

Each chapter contains exercises to help you reconnect with yourself, rediscover your passion, and build your ideal life. (2: WHAT IT WILL DO FOR YOU)

As a relationship coach and divorced mother of two, I know how confusing and scary it can be to rebuild your life after divorce. 

But I’ve created a life I love and helped hundreds of women do the same. (3: WHO THEY ARE)

Now, I’ve distilled my best post-divorce advice into this ebook. 

Download it for the early-bird price of $9.99 (until December 5th) and start building your new life today.” (4: WHAT TO DO NEXT)

Since the second step covers the benefit, the reader will desire the product or service by the fourth step. So then you present the call to action.

The next copywriting formula has a similar flow.

5. AIDA: Attention – Interest – Desire – Action

copywriting formulas aida

The AIDA formula works well for advertisementsemail copylanding pagesheadlines, and more.

Here’s how to use it:

Step 1: Attention

Questions to consider:

  • How can you grab the reader’s attention?
  • Can you make a surprising statement or express an unusual opinion?
  • Can you use a shocking fact or statistic?

Step 2: Interest

Questions to consider:

  • Can you captivate the reader with a story?
  • How can you make the issue personal and relevant to them?
  • What additional information is relevant to your target audience?

Step 3: Desire

Questions to consider:

  • How does the reader feel?
  • How do they want to feel?
  • What does your reader desire?

Step 4: Action

The final step is the action you desire the reader to take. Examples include:

  • Signing up for a free trial
  • Subscribing to your mailing list
  • Making a purchase

These formulas work for long and concise copy. Check this out.

AIDA Example

This Birkenstock ad shows AIDA in action:

copywriting formulas birkenstock copy

This ad has empty space and a relevant picture because it efficiently covers the four points. Copywriters with skill in selecting and structuring words are concise.

Speaking of concise, the last 5 copywriting formulas mainly used single letters (or numbers), but they’re not all like that. The next formula uses words…

6. Star – Chain – Hook

Use this for anything from a sales letter to a fictional story. 

Step 1: Star — Pick a hero.

Questions to consider:

  • Who stars in this story? It could be your reader, your product, or an interesting fact.
  • How can you present the star in a compelling way?
  • What happens in your story? Start in the middle of the action.

Step 2: Chain — Build interest with a series of facts and features.

Questions to consider:

  • What can your product or service do for the reader? Why should they care?
  • Which of the reader’s pain points does your product or service solve?
  • How does your reader feel? What feelings do they desire?
  • What benefits are most relevant to them?
  • How will the benefits improve their life?

Step 3: Hook — Present the CTA.

Questions to consider:

  • What action should your reader take?

Now create a story with your answers.

Star – Chain – Hook Examples

“These small business owners struggled to generate inbound leads until they took our LinkedIn lead generation course. (STAR) One entrepreneur managed to generate more leads in a week than in the previous six months using our methods. (CHAIN) Receive a 50% discount when you sign up today.” (HOOK)

Here’s an example from Zapier:

copywriting formulas zapier copy

Those are two examples of how you can make a lot of money writing stories.

Speaking of stories, once upon a time a copywriter created a copywriting formula so great it was named after him.

7. Bob Stone’s Formula

In the copywriting industry, Bob Stone is as famous as Dan Kennedy, Robert Collier, or even Don Draper. He created this winning copywriting formula — also known as Bob Stone’s Gem.

You can harvest this gem and craft a copywriting masterpiece in seven steps.

Step 1: Start with your strongest benefit.

Questions to consider:

  • Who is your ideal customer? What matters to them most?
  • What statement or benefit will drive them to act?

Step 2: Expand on that benefit.

Questions to consider:

  • What additional information will make this benefit impossible to ignore?
  • How will the product or service help the reader achieve a desired result?
  • How can you make the copy memorable?

Step 3: Explain what they will get.

Questions to consider:

  • Which features are most attractive to the reader?
  • How can you highlight those features?
  • Can you tell a story or paint a picture in their mind?

Step 4: Support your statements with proof.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you have evidence that your product or service works?
  • Can you share testimonials, case studies, facts, or statistics about your product or service?

Step 5: Tell them what they’ll lose if they don’t take action.

Questions to consider:

  • What pain does your reader want to avoid?
  • What will happen if they don’t buy your product or service?

Step 6: Summarize the most important benefits.

Questions to consider:

  • How can you make the benefits resonate with your reader?
  • What emotions will spur action?
  • What vision of the future can you conjure?

Step 7: Present the CTA.

Questions to consider:

  • What action should the reader take?
  • How can you make that action effortless?
  • Can you create scarcity to further motivate them?

Perhaps an example will motivate you to practice these steps.

Bob Stone’s Formula Example

“You need these glasses — even if you don’t wear glasses. They prevent headaches, help you sleep better, and protect your eyesight while you work. (1: THE STRONGEST BENEFIT)

That’s because they block out the blue light that causes eye fatigue, helping your eyes work smarter, not harder. (2: EXPAND ON THE BENEFIT)

Blue light-blocking glasses have never been sexier, as we’ve teamed up with Gucci to create this sophisticated collection. (3: WHAT THEY WILL GET)

Over 10,000 satisfied customers can’t be wrong — this is the most stylish and practical way to protect your eyes. (4: PROOF) 

Failure to care for your eyesight now could lead to permanent damage and eye problems. (5: WHAT THEY WILL LOSE IF THEY DON’T ACT)

So give your eyes a rest (6: SUMMARIZE THE BENEFITS) — order your first pair and get a second pair at half price for this week only.” (7: THE CTA)

While formulas like this are detailed, formulas like the next one lack structure.

8. The Fan Dancer

copywriting formulas fan dancer

Like the racy dance this method is named after, the fan dancer tantalizes the reader with details to create curiosity without revealing any information. This leaves the reader wanting more. 

The fan dancer works well for a blog post or as a headline formula. It uses intrigue to seduce your target audience.

Are you intrigued? Do you need more information?

Let’s look at how you might apply this method.

The Fan Dancer Example

Let’s say you sell a book that helps freelance copywriters get more clients. Your fan dancer copy may look like this:

“In this book, we reveal:

  • How to book new clients while you sleep.
  • The weird social media hack to save ten hours a week and generate 50% more leads.
  • The tweak that will ensure you never run out of prospects.”

Here’s another example from Automata:

copywriting formulas automata copy

A copywriting formula may provide specific directions or only rough guidelines.

You can also use multiple formulas in one piece of sales copy. For example, you can use this formula with any other:

9. The 4 Cs: Clear, Concise, Compelling, and Credible

Honestly, the 4 Cs is more of a rule than a copywriting formula. 

But it’s too valuable to leave out.

As a case study on applying the 4 Cs, let’s improve some ad copy on LinkedIn from Genève Invest Group:

copywriting formulas geneve invest copy

“Don’t let the losses slide” isn’t clear. I had to read the whole ad to understand what it means. If your audience doesn’t understand you, you’ll lose them.

This ad isn’t concise, because the words “brochure,” “avoid,” and “mistakes” appear twice in the 37-word advertisement. 

Third, this ad could be more compelling with a reworded reason to download the brochure. 

Finally, this ad doesn’t explain who Genève Invest is or increase their credibility. 

To improve the copy, I used the PAS formula:

“Investors could lose up to 50% of their wealth in 2023 — but you don’t need to. Download our free ebook to discover how to avoid the five most common investment mistakes.”

So these formulas help you write copy and edit someone else’s writing.

Whatever you do, remember this:

Use the Force, of Copywriting Formulas

Now you have nine copywriting formulas to help you channel your inner Yoda and get inside your reader’s head.

Even if you have zero experience, these formulas will improve your copywriting and produce results — so you’ll be able to get more work and charge more money.

I sense the Force is strong in you — so go forth and use these formulas to become a copywriting Jedi.

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