Gimpy Web Copy? Use This 4-Step Formula to Make It Killer

by Demian Farnworth

Last updated on February 26th, 2018

Creating great copy is not hard. In fact, it’s quite easy. That is, if you understand four simple words.

If you summarized every single book and article written on copy, you’d get these four words. In fact, someone consolidated all this knowledge into one simple, sticky formula…

And if you use this formula anything you write will rivet attention, stoke desire, and get action.

Let’s start with an example.

Here’s a Short Ad Promoting a Fantasy

Wanted: Ugly Men
Listen, ugly men, with one little pill, I can make you so attractive that women will throw themselves at you every time you walk through the mall.
Want proof?
Just ask Marty Feldman or Michael Berryman. They now beat women off of them with sticks.
Call 1-800-ugly-men now if you are interested.

Okay, quiz time. See any pattern in the above copy?

Raise your hand if you said, “You used the four Ps.”

So, what are the 4 Ps? Promise. Paint. Proof. And Push. Let’s break my little ad down so I can show you how this formula works.

The Promise to Ugly Men

Listen, ugly men, with one little pill I can make you so attractive.

In two words I’ve identified my audience, and in six words I gave them a promise that will most certainly appeal to them: easy beauty.

The trick to writing a good promise is to identify a customer’s pain point and how your product can solve that problem. That’s the benefit and the essence of your promise.

Wondering how you find out a customer’s pain point? Try this:

  • Ask them. Hit the street or the phones and start asking your target audience what keeps them up at night, their worst fears.
  • Take a survey. If you have a website, KISSinsights provides a great tool to gather information about your visitors. Survey Monkey is another good tool.
  • Research. Lots of companies like Forresters, eMarketer and Neilson have reports that you can mine for information.

Once you have the promise nailed, you’re next step is to paint a picture that shows them what their life will be like when they take you up on your promise.

Paint the Promise

…that women will throw themselves at you every time you walk through the mall.

Heck, most half-way decent looking guys wouldn’t mind if more women threw themselves at them when they walked through the mall. Someone who’s ugly? He’s desperate and can relate.

He’s a thirsty crowd and should be ready to fall in your lap. But not just yet, because a claim by itself isn’t convincing. People are skeptical. They want evidence. So now you have to provide proof.

Prove the Promise You Painted

Just ask Marty Feldman or Michael Berryman. They now beat women off of them with sticks.

Two high-profile, and sadly, ugly men have hypothetically taken this pill and are now living with the pleasant consequences.

In other words, if you don’t listen to me…listen to these guys…objective third party sources who’s lives have been changed just as the ad promised.

Keep in mind that whatever you promise you MUST deliver. No ifs, ands or buts. And if you over promise, you will probably lose prospects.

Speaking of credibility and believability, always tell the truth, even if it’s ugly. (No pun intended.)

Okay, now that you’ve whipped your prospect into a lather, what’s your next step? Now you’ve got to get them to act.

Push Your Prospect to Act

Call 1-800-ugly-men now if you are interested.

That’s your call to action. It doesn’t get any easier.

Listen, not asking for the order in a clear and compelling way is the best way to cripple your conversion rates. You have to tell your prospect what to do. You’ve won him over. He’s yours. Now tell him what to do. And make it clear and simple.

Now pay attention to this part

Can you tell me anything about the pill?

What does it look like? Smell like? How many do you have to take? Is it the size of a man’s thumb or a microchip? And how does it actually make an ugly man pretty?

You don’t know very much about the pill, do you? The only feature I’ve shared was that it was little.

Here’s why:

Your prospect doesn’t care at this point. He just wants to know how he can solve his problem and turn his life around. He’ll worry about the actual pill once he’s picked up the phone and called you.

The web copy formula will get them on the phone.

It’s up to you to close.

Part of the Sales Letter Makeover Series. Other posts in the series:



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Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is a freelance writer who hustles the finer points of web writing at The CopyBot. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.


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  1. Jed says:
    December 5, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Great article and I came here from your other great article on Copyblogger. Sorry to be the “pedant in the grass” (just made that phrase up) but I spotted a typo: “paint a picture that shows them what they’re life will be like”.

    Like I said, though: great article.

    • July 21, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Also, “mircrochip” …but I’ve still read 6 of your articles, great reads.

      • July 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

        Thanks! Appreciate our eagle-eyed readers. 😉

  2. Tony says:
    December 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Awesome example of the 4 Ps. You make it sound so easy…and I guess it is when you think about it! Really enjoyed the simplicity and effectiveness of this article. Thanks!

  3. Bianca says:
    December 14, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Superb! Great article. You even got ‘2Ps’ into the blog post title. Writing is not my strong point, but even I feel that I write something KILLER now… 😉

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Liz Lockard says:
    December 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

    “You don’t know very much about the pill” – love this! Not the 4Ps you grew up with – ha. Great article, Demian!

    Liz Lockard Marketing Consulting

    • Demian Farnworth says:
      December 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

      Glad you loved it, Liz!

  5. TheWorldOrBust says:
    December 13, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Perfect, of course you use two Jewish guys as examples…haha jk.

    • Demian Farnworth says:
      December 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Whoops! Didn’t know any better. 😉

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