Remember These 5 Copywriting Formulas

I used to teach marketing and selling at a local college here in Ottawa. And one of the things I used to help teach with — I also use them all the time when I want to learn and remember new things, too — was mnemonics.

Mnemonics are tools or devices that aid retention.

Do you remember the little ditty to remember all the planets’ names, taught mostly in kindergarten? It goes, “My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas,” where the first letter of each word represents the name of each planet in our solar system (i.e., Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto).

Songs, rhymes, formulas, pictures, alliteration, etc are often used as mnemonic devices. But my favorite form of mnemonic are acronyms. You’ve probably seen a few of them on this blog. That’s because I often use acronyms to teach about copywriting.

I do this to help you remember, appreciate, and understand the process I go through when I write copy. Here they are, with their meaning (plus, each mnemonic is linked to its respective article on this blog, covering the formula in more detail):

1. UPWORDS Formula

“Universal picture words or relatable, descriptive sentences.”

“Up words” are picture words, mental imagery, metaphors, analogies, examples, allegories, etc so that all people in a given target market can quickly, easily, and intimately relate to and grasp, in their minds, your message and its meaning. More »

2. QUEST Formula

Qualify, Understand, Educate, Stimulate, and Transition.

As if your readers are going “on a quest” so to speak, it’s the process your prospects go through when reading your sales copy. In addition to the famous AIDA formula used in advertising (i.e., attention, interest, desire, then action), it guides people as they progress through your copy until they take the prescribed action. More »

3. FAB Formula

Features, Advantages, and Benefits.

Simply, this one is to not only help remember but also understand what true benefits are. Features are what products have. Advantages (what people often mistakenly think are benefits) are what those features do. But benefits are what they mean — at a personal, intimate level. They are real benefits. You can also call them “end-results.” More »

4. OATH Formula

Oblivious, Apathetic, Thinking, or Hurting.

It’s like asking, “Is your prospect ready to take an oath?” They are the four stages of your market’s awareness. From not knowing they have a problem at all, to desperately seeking a solution, your market falls in either one of these. Knowing this helps to determine not only how to write your copy but also how much copy is warranted. More »

5. FORCEPS Formula

Factual, Optical, Reversal, Credential, Evidential, Perceptual, and Social proof.

Finally, these are the various proof elements you can include in your copy. While proof is always important in building trust, credibility, and believability, this is particularly helpful when your product is new or unheard of. Proof is the single greatest requirement in all sales copy, especially online — the lack thereof is the biggest killer of sales, too. More »

Of course, these are not the only mnemonic devices I’ve used on this blog. I’m sure you’ve seen a few more from time to time. But take some time to read them, perhaps even print them out and have them handy as you’re writing your copy.

How about you? Do you have any formulas, mnemonic, or even acronyms you refer to to help you write your copy? I’d love to hear about them, and why you use them.

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By Michel Fortin

Michel Fortin is a digital marketing advisor specializing in SEO, communications, and strategy. For over 30 years, he helped hundreds of thousands of clients increase their visibility and their revenue. He is also the VP of Digital Marketing at Musora, the company behind award-winning platforms Drumeo and Pianote. He is the author of the More Traffic Memo™ SEO email newsletter.