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Ad Formats and Structures: Combining Copywriting Formulas with Storytelling Frameworks

Copywriting is the unsung hero of content.

Whether you're writing blog posts, social media updates, or email newsletters, the right copywriting formula makes a difference.

Here’s a refresher on some tried and tested formulas to turn your copy into digital gold.

1. Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS): The Art of Effective Storytelling

The Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) formula is a powerful storytelling technique that captures the essence of your product or service. With PAS, you identify a problem your audience can relate to. Then, you agitate the issue, highlighting the negative consequences of not finding a solution. Finally, you present your product or service as the ultimate solution to their problem.

2. The Fan Dancer: Dancing Around an Idea

The Fan Dancer formula is all about piquing curiosity and capturing attention without explicitly stating your idea or message. This technique is beneficial when your question or statement is similar to what others say. You can captivate your audience and stand out by using fresh angles and avoiding commonly used phrases.

3. The Four C's: Clear, Concise, Compelling, Credible

The Four C's formula emphasizes the importance of creating clear, concise, compelling, and credible copy. By focusing on benefits rather than features, you can engage your audience and demonstrate the value of your product or service.

4. Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA): The Classic Copywriting Formula

The Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) formula is a classic and widely used copywriting technique. It guides readers through a series of steps, from grabbing their attention to ultimately encouraging them to take action.

To apply the AIDA formula effectively, capture attention with a catchy headline or opening sentence. Then, build interest by providing exciting and relevant information. Create desire by highlighting the benefits of your product or service and giving evidence that it delivers what you promise. Finally, prompt action by including a clear call-to-action that encourages readers to take the desired next step.

5. The 5 Questions: Addressing Customers' Concerns

The 5 Questions formula helps address common objections or concerns that potential customers may have before purchasing or engaging with your brand. You can build trust and credibility by answering these questions upfront, leading to increased conversions.

6. Create a Strong Impression

Emphasize creating a solid impression through concise and impactful messaging. By using dichotomies and extremities in your copy, you can highlight the products or services versatility and comprehensive nature of your products or services.

For instance, Apple's iPad and Mac mini ads focus on concise and punchy one-liners that encapsulate the product's unique features and benefits. By highlighting the contrasting aspects of their products, Apple effectively showcases their ability to cater to a wide range of customer needs.

7. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS): Focusing on Clarity and Simplicity

The KISS formula reminds copywriters to keep their messaging clear, concise, and easily understood. By avoiding unnecessary adjectives and focusing on the main message and benefits, you can create copy that resonates with your audience.

Peak Design, an adventure lifestyle brand, applies the KISS formula on its "Our Story" page. Their descriptions are divided into clean subsections, each consisting of one to two paragraphs. By keeping the content concise and to the point, Peak Design caters to readers' short attention spans and delivers a clear message about their brand.

8. ACCA: Awareness, Comprehension, Conviction, Action

ACCA is a copywriting formula that focuses on educating the reader and guiding them towards action. You can effectively move your audience through the buyer's journey by creating awareness, providing comprehension, building conviction, and prompting action.

Thinx ASMR ad.

Thinx, a period-proof underwear brand, is an excellent example of using the ACCA formula. They create awareness by introducing the concept of period-proof underwear, provide comprehension by educating women on how it works, build conviction by showcasing the benefits and diversity of their products, and ultimately prompt action by encouraging customers to purchase.

9. The Power of Open Loops: Creating Curiosity and Engagement

Open loops is a psychological technique that creates curiosity and engagement by leaving the audience wanting more. Introducing a cliffhanger or unresolved situation can capture attention and keep readers invested in your content.

Using open loops in your headlines or introductions can be particularly effective. For example, you can start a blog post with a question or intriguing statement that makes readers eager to learn more. This technique can be seen in many successful TV shows and movies that keep audiences hooked.

10. The Reader's Digest Blueprint: Fact-packed, Telegraphic, Specific, and Curiosity-arousing

The Reader's Digest blueprint offers a valuable framework for writing compelling copy. By focusing on facts, being telegraphic, providing specific information, and arousing curiosity, you can engage readers and keep them interested in your content.

Copyblogger cofounder Sonia Simone has shared her insights on the Reader's Digest blueprint, highlighting the importance of short opening sentences, avoiding irrelevant quotes, starting stories in the chaotic middle, and drawing inspiration from your swipe file.

11. The Hero's Journey

This is one of the most famous storytelling frameworks popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It describes the typical pattern of stories where a hero goes on an adventure, faces challenges and temptations, overcomes them with the help of mentors and allies, and returns home transformed. You can use this framework to tell stories about how your customers or clients used your product or service to achieve their goals or overcome their problems.

12. The Before-After-Bridge

A simple yet powerful storytelling framework coined by Joanna Wiebe from Copyhackers. It helps you tell stories about how your product or service changed someone's life for the better. You can use this framework to describe the before state of your customer or client (their problem or situation), the after state of your customer or client (their desired outcome or result), and the bridge between them (your product or service).

13. The STAR Method

A popular storytelling framework that is often used for job interviews or performance reviews. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. It helps you tell stories about how you handled a specific situation or challenge in a professional context. You can use this framework to showcase your expertise or experience in your field or industry.

Social Media Ad Formats and Structures: Combining Copywriting Formulas with Storytelling Frameworks

1. AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

Storytelling Equivalent: The Hero's Journey

Attention: Introduce the main character (your product or brand).

Interest: Showcase a problem or challenge faced by the character.

Desire: Present how your product helps someone overcome the challenge.

Action: Call your audience to take a step, be it making a purchase, signing up, or more.

2. PAS: Problem, Agitate, Solve

Storytelling Equivalent: In Medias Res (Starting in the Middle)

Problem: Start with a scene that already presents a pressing issue (related to your product's niche).

Agitate: Build the tension and dive deeper into the complexities of the problem.

Solve: Offer a resolution through your product or service.

3. 4 Cs: Clear, Concise, Compelling, Credibility

Storytelling Equivalent: The Three-Act Structure

Clear (Act 1): Set the scene and introduce the main elements of your message.

Concise (Act 2): Dive into the heart of the matter without overloading on information.

Compelling (Climax): Create a turning point that pushes the narrative forward.

Credibility (Act 3): Conclude with proof of your claims, be it through testimonials, statistics, or guarantees.

4. BAB: Before, After, Bridge

Storytelling Equivalent: Flashbacks and Flashforwards

Before: Use a flashback to show a situation before using your product.

After: Fast-forward to the improved scenario after the product’s adoption.

Bridge: Connect the two scenarios with your product, explaining its role in the transformation.

5. SLAP: Stop, Look, Act, Purchase

Storytelling Equivalent: The Quest

Stop: Start with a bold statement or question about the audience’s journey.

Look: Present the roadmap or path of the quest.

Act: Encourage small engagements or steps.

Purchase: The end goal of the quest is where the product/service becomes the 'treasure' or 'elixir.'

6. ACC: Awareness, Comprehension, Conviction

Storytelling Equivalent: Personal Anecdotes

Awareness: Share a personal story or customer testimonial.

Comprehension: Dive into the lessons learned or insights gained.

Conviction: Highlight the firm belief in the product's value, urging the audience to feel the same.

Key Takeaways

Intertwining Techniques: The power of storytelling frameworks can amplify the effect of time-tested copywriting formulas. By combining the two, you can create ads that capture attention and emotionally resonate with the audience.

Adapting for Different Platforms: Each social media platform has its nuances. Tailoring your content to each platform while maintaining the essence of your story ensures maximum reach and engagement.

Test and Refine: As with all marketing strategies, it's crucial to test different combinations of copywriting and storytelling techniques to discover what resonates most with your target audience.

By merging the magic of storytelling with the precision of copywriting formulas, you're well on your way to creating captivating social media ads.

It's not just about getting eyes on your content.

It’s about making a lasting impression and driving action.

If you’re ready to tell your story, get in touch.