Not everyone can be the charismatic copywriter that is Don Draper. In fact, not even Don Draper was Don Draper. Unsubstantiated rumours claim the character is modelled on an amalgamation of four real people.
It may not be easy to be Don Draper but that doesn’t mean that you can't do your best at copywriting. Particularly with these useful copywriting formulas that you can use as a quick hack to writing better.
Copywriting formulas and techniques
These simple little tactics are great to use when you are stuck in your writing and can’t seem to add the necessary “punch” to make it stand out from the plethora of written communications out there.
Sometimes it’s not enough to tell your readership that you are holding a new event, you have a new or improved service or that there is a fundraising drive that they absolutely must attend.
As consumers, we’re so overwhelmed by information that a lot of what you will put out into the world (or online) as marketers or business owners will fade into the background. These days, it takes a concerted effort to make your communications stand out and reach the correct people.
Below you will find three reliable copywriting formulas that will help you write significant pieces of information that will drive your audience to do something. These writing formulas are particularly effective for fundraising or charity campaigns and I have written the example with that in mind. However, these copywriting processes aren’t limited to not for profit but are applicable for any type of copywriting. Test them out on your next content article, squeeze page or advert.
DRD copywriting formula
This is a formula that is often used in creative writing but can equally be used in effective storytelling as part of your copywriting. In creative writing, it is used to create scenes, eg character finds out husband is cheating (dilemma), character is distraught (reaction) and decides to leave him (decision). This is one of the most effective ways to get action happening in a story. Translated into copywriting, it is an effective way to move the readers along with you so by the time you have taken them through the journey of a dilemma, they are ready to agree to the decision you propose (eg, buy this service to abate your dilemma).
The problem and solution copywriting formula
The problem and solution copywriting formula is particularly effective for writing media releases or anything where you need to take people on a particular journey for them to emotionally invest in your plight. Many not for profit and charity organisations would value from using this copywriting technique.
Let’s look at these steps in closer detail:
The AIDA technique is a time tested process in sales and it is also known as the purchase funnel. You may recognise a semblance of this process in modern day sales funnel marketing – many visible bloggers and digital sellers use it to varying degrees of success.
‘The AIDA model is one of the longest serving models used in advertising, having been developed in the late nineteenth century.’
How to grab attention?
There are some surefire ways to grab attention. Words such as “free”, “discount”, “sale”, “you” and similar are very effective in grabbing almost anyone’s attention.
Develop interest with unusual statistics, social proof statements or claims, credible testimonies or endorsements or proposition your reader with a hypothetical scenario that would leave them wondering.
Create desire by proposing something that is absolutely irresistible to your reader. A new product that will eliminate their problem? Something that will boost their confidence or provide them with the comfort or luxury that they have wanted for ages?
By this stage in your copywriting, your reader is all prepped and ready to take some action to make their desire manifest in reality. If your writing is well done, they will be easy to convince at this point. Incorporate an effective call to action.
At the end of the day, you can use these copywriting formulas with some sense of success. But for truly powerful copywriting, it still takes creativity, storytelling and marketing knowledge. And I have repeated this in many blog posts but I will say it again: you must, must, must know your target audience and exactly how to write to them in a way that makes them do what you want, for example read your website, buy your product, book your service straight away!
This post includes one affiliate partner link, which means if you sign up to their product, I'll get a modest kickback at no cost to you.
Do you know me in real life? Or have you thoroughly investigated my site? Then it’s guaranteed that you know that creative writing is my lifelong fixation.
The techniques that I have learnt from creative writing via studying and applying the art are, thankfully, transferrable to my copywriting and professional writing career, which is a boon, as creative writing feels as if it’s some kind of special magic that I am privy to.
Here are a number of practices that were developed from my creative writing that I now regularly apply to my client writing.
I have learnt a lot about the art of storytelling and how that can be applied to copywriting. Copy needs a beginning, middle and an end and it’s critical that when I put something out into the world, whether it be via this blog, one of my other sites, as part of social media marketing or for my clients (especially for my clients) that I hook the reader (that’s you) in from the absolute start. For an extra challenge, I have to keep them hooked in along the entire journey of the piece until the end. And then… the end isn’t even the end. From there the reader must take action.
Openings, first sentences, headings, first chapters… these are all make or break. I spend the most time on these important factors because without an intriguing hook or heading and emotional connection, you’ve already lost the audience before you’ve begun. And people always “buy” emotion.
Tip: if you’re about to write something, put down three headings: beginning, middle and end and then flesh out appropriately.
I am a walking thesaurus! I have learnt a lot of new words that are out of the ordinary vernacular and that adds flavour to writing. There is, however, a precarious balance between writing “too clever” (to the point of repulsion) and peppering interesting words into the mix.
The draft is just that! It’s a draft and it’s vital that I do not to get too hung up on the shape of that draft because the end result is often much different, smoother and has much more intention and clarity than the random jotting of notes that it begins its life as.
Writing inspiration can evolve from anywhere. Often inspiration comes from the smallest and seemingly tiniest thing such as a picture, a leaf I see outside my house or it could be erratic noise (I once wrote a short story inspired entirely from a constant beeping noise I heard from a neighbour). All it takes is one little spark and then an avalanche of ideas and inspiration come together. Mining inspiration is not the tricky part for me, it’s the refining of the ideas and sifting through the possibilities to choose the right one to pursue and develop.
I have learnt that the Pomodoro Technique is your absolute best friend when writing. If you can trick your mind that you are merely writing for half an hour to forty five minutes and that all you need to do is get words on the page then something miraculous happens and it starts to unleash a tiny bit of genius and immense productivity. If you tell yourself that you have to write a website or an ebook or other big projects then your mind freezes up with overwhelm. Give the Pomodoro Technique a go!
'... all you need to do is get words on the page then something miraculous happens and it starts to unleash a tiny bit of genius and immense productivity.'
I have learnt that just because I clearly understand and visualise imagery and concepts in my mind and there’s a wonderful imaginative world that exists in my head, certainly doesn’t mean that other people (or in fact, anyone) is on the same page. This means that I have to really choose the correct word every single time and pen (I mean… type) a description and vision as clearly as possible so that I can invite other people to get a glimpse of this incredible world within and conceive the scenario as I intend. I focus on the details and setting up the scene very determinedly so that the reader will automatically put themselves in the scenario without much effort and so they are willing to follow the journey.
Pointing out the extraordinary in the ordinary is a great way to do this.
Perfect the piece
One of the steps that can never be skipped, no matter how tempting is the final copy stage. I practice editing and proofreading over and over again until it drives me a bit batty. Each piece of writing is privy to at least three “read throughs” and edits. My final read through is read out aloud as this helps pick up inconsistencies that I may not have noticed on the screen. My neighbours must be curious why I’m always talking to myself!
To save time, I use Grammarly to help me identify any glaring errors in syntax, spelling and grammar. It’s worth upgrading to a premium account for advanced checking, suggestions and a plagiarism detector.
A lesson which has helped me become a better writer and, perhaps more importantly, a better business person is that the clients’ writing, product, service or company is not about me and what I want. It’s about a very specific demographic which the client has identified and researched and who I write specifically to, almost as if I they were in the room and I am talking directly to them.
The art of planning
Just like any wise person would do (not always me) planning is one of those time saving techniques over the long term is laying out a meticulous plan before commencing writing. This helps with productivity, despite the initial outlay of time. Devising a set of templates, even as basic headings, helps me know where I’m writing to and what gaps need filling.
Start broad and pare back
Let the imagination and writing flow stream wild and free and unfettered in the initial drafting or note taking process. Go as wide and bold as you possibly can, to the point where it feels uncomfortable and you blush as you commit it to paper, knowing that you’d be embarrassed if someone read it in its raw form. Only once you have dumped the grandest of concepts and meandering storylines can you taper it back and edit it to become cohesive, clear and share main palatable points that your reader will want to absorb. If you’re like me, you’ll find it much easier to “calm the farm” in your outrageous ideas than to stretch a watered down, half formed concept into something that is worth publishing.
Not everything has to be shared on the page at once. As you eek out your writing from one seed of an idea, you may discover many estuaries start to form. A novice writer will be desperate to get across every smart thought they have, which may confuse and addle your customer and your writing will lose its effectiveness. Pluck out your main ideas and stick to a consistent theme or niche (for example, I’ve focussed on copywriting, marketing, SEO etc) and keep a record or file of all your other ideas, knowing they will find their place in your writing, website, blog or work at some point in time and if they don’t… che sera!
And as with most things the more you do and the more you learn about it, the better it will improve.
'Not everything has to be shared on the page at once.'