Copywriters have developed a few proven formulas over time that has greatly helped in creating powerful, compelling copy.
One of those formula’s is called the 4 P’s: Picture, Promise, Proof, Push
The only function of advertising is to sell a product or service. Period. Unfortunately, there are far too many advertisements that seek to entertain, believing that the customer will equate a good belly laugh with forking over their hard-earned moola.
Web copy is advertising. If you’re running a business and you have an online website, it’s sole purpose is to get your prospect to buy what you’re selling. Yes, education is part of it, but education with a goal: to get the prospect to trust you so that they buy.
And that’s the focus of the 4 P’s formula. Let’s take a deeper look.
The 4 P’s Formula: The Picture
Your copy needs to paint a picture of what the product or service can do for your prospect. You need to get into your prospect’s world first before introducing your offering. This is probably one of the most common mistakes I see with advertising. Many businesses are too quick to jump to what their product can do for their prospect without first giving it context.
Context matters. If you have a service that will make accounting easier for your prospect, then you need to first acknowledge that her life is complicated. Stressful. You need to paint a picture that shows how her current solution isn’t working.
The picture can be used in two ways: either show the negative or the positive. You can show how the status quo just isn’t working anymore or you can paint a positive picture of what life would look like with a better solution. Examples of the positive would be questions such as, “Wouldn’t you like to….” or statements such as “Just imagine. Your _____ can be ____ – free…” or “Never worry again about….”
The 4 P’s Formula: The Promise
As I’ve mentioned before in my posts on headlines, you make a promise to your prospect and then fulfill that promise with the rest of your copy.
The promise builds anticipation. It fans the flame of hope. And people are dying for some hope.
Hope is what keeps us moving toward our goals of improved health, loving relationships, increased wealth, and more security.
You also need to make the promise believable. A promise such as “Lose 20 pounds in one week!” isn’t going to perform well. Most people would look at that promise as too good to be true and ignore it.
The promise is your word of honor. You’re telling your prospect that if they buy your product or service, the promise made to them (a better accounting system), will come true.
The 4 P’s Formula: The Proof
This is another weak area for most advertising. They may make a promise and show you the picture of what life will be like with their product or service, but then they fail to prove why it’s such a good deal.
This is where testimonials and quantifiable evidence comes in. Just like a trial lawyer, you are making the case for your business. You have made the claim that your product or service is going to save the day, now you have to call up your witnesses.
Video testimonials are a very powerful way to do this. A friend of mine runs a fitness business and featured several videos on his website showing satisfied customers. He also used “before” and “after” photos, demonstrating how much weight a person lost. Such proof elements are highly compelling when you’re trying to convince your prospect that your claims are true.
The 4 P’s Formula: The Push
It is human nature to procrastinate. Making a decision to do something different is a risk, and if you’re asking your prospect to part with a large sum of money, expect to spend a considerable amount of time proving your claims. But once that’s done, you need to push them toward taking action and buying your product or service.
This is the “call to action” area of your copy. Your prospect needs a “next step.” Tell them exactly what they need to do next. If it’s not “fill out the form below with your credit card information,” then it may be “Call us today to find out how you can get a free demo.”
You need to be very clear with your call to action. If it’s to call your business, make sure the phone number is prominently displayed. If it’s to fill out a form, have it placed in a location that is impossible to ignore.
Use large typeface, emphasis key words or phrases with bold font, and use color to grab attention.
The bottom line: make it as easy as possible for your prospect to take the next step. I am often frustrated with businesses that make me hunt for their contact information. Your prospect isn’t interested in playing such games. In fact, many of them will simply move on to your competitor if you make your next step so difficult.
Quick and Easy is the name of the your customer’s favorite game and if you’re not playing it, you need to get up to speed. Your prospect just doesn’t have time to wonder what to do next.
Hopefully this formula will serve you well as you write copy that sells. If you put all of these into play, you’ll be far ahead of your competitor’s, who are merely trying to make your prospect laugh.