It's easy to end up re-writing your key headlines and paragraphs again and again and waste several days doing it. Below we show you some methods copywriters have used to stop that circle of madness and commit to a message with confidence. They include using the simple and powerful APP formula, jobs to be done and more.
Great resource: Put All Your Content Ideas into Roam Research. It really works.
Before you start, if you're figuring out what your key features and benefits really should be then learn about the new positioning process through 10 examples.
Jobs to be done (JTBD)
Jobs to be done is a little like Elon Musk's first principles thinking. Below is an example of why it's useful:
"People would say they buy a lawnmower to cut the grass, and this is true but if the aim is to keep the grass low and beautiful at all times they could instead use genetically engineered grass."
The jobs to be done sentence structure you can use looks a bit like this:
When I.... I want to.... So I can.....
Below is an example of using that structure to clarify an advert.
The original advert
Now we apply the jobs to be done sentence structure
Using the When I > I want to > So I can structure, we get the following:
"When someone comes to the website but isn’t sure and does not buy, I want some way of automatically sending them educational material over many weeks so they understand the product and eventually buy."
Now we shorten that into something we can put into an advert
Here's the final shortened version:
"Automatically convert those who chatted with you but did not buy through email, SMS and Facebook ads."
For me, that's a little clearer than the original.
I don't know their target market but I wrote it to make sense to myself as a potential buyer. It puts benefits into a a good enough structure to move forward with.
This example came from the following list:
Agree, promise, preview
This is something we use a lot to both clarify our thinking and for writing introductions to blog posts which personally drive me crazy.
"When someone visits your page from Google, you have 2 seconds to convince them to stick around. Not 10, not 5 but 2 and if you lose them in those 2 then you lose them for good." Brian Dean
This means the first sentence has to grab their attention.
The second has to reinforce the first so people can trust it.
The third has to lead you to read the rest of the content.
The structure used for doing this is called APP (Agree, Promise, Preview).
How do you immediately get someone's attention?
Say something they agree with.
Start with an idea or problem that someone reading your content would agree with. This means you understand their problem. If they see that, they’re more likely to stick around.
An example? Read the opening paragraph to this blog post:
"It's easy to re-write your key headlines and paragraphs again and again until you've wasted several days doing it."
This is something many people can agree with. I understand your problem. This article is relevant. Keep reading.
Now that you've got their attention it’s time for the promise.
This is when you give them a peek into a better world.
What did we write in our top paragraph for promise?
"Below we show you some methods copywriters have used to stop that circle of madness and commit to a message with confidence."
Yes, we promise that it will stop the madness.
Finally, hit them with the preview. The preview needs to tell your reader exactly what you have in store for them.
"They include using the simple and powerful APP formula, jobs to be done and more."
This sets a structure in their head of what to expect.
The underlying truth is that we want to know if an article is relevant to us without having to read it all. APP is a good way of honestly saying what you're writing about so you don't waste people's time.
What other methods are there?
FAB and PAS
FAB stands for features, advantages and benefits.
"Imagine you’re selling an oven. One of its special features is a fast preheat system. The advantage of this system is that the oven heats up to 400º F (200º C) in just five minutes. The benefit is that a cook doesn’t have to hang around until the oven is finally warm enough. It makes cooking less stressful and you have a much better chance to get dinner ready in time even if you’re extremely busy."
PAS stands for problem, agitate, solution.
"First you describe a problem, then you agitate by highlighting the emotions that go with the problem, and then you offer your solution."
I initially came across this as a way to help the team on enterprise sales demos because it provides a good structure to approach their pain point and how we help them. It can be used for writing copy too.
The value chain starts with their goal.
Immediately to the right of the goal is the job or jobs to be done.
Next to the goal are the obstacles that prevent them from accomplishing their goal. What’s getting in their way? Why, and how, are they blocked?
And finally you present the perfect offering that overcomes all those hurdles is your product.
Ignore all these and do what's right for you
When we began marketing Upscope we had a "good enough" message that explained the one core product we had so we could get on with our work of learning more about customers to iterate further.
It was not the best message but we didn't know our target market then. It did the job and often that's what we needed to do until you're more focused on a niche market.
We use APP for our blog posts and emails, we use jobs to be done to think about features and road maps. They save us time and help structure our thinking and that's why appreciate them.
Losing all your content ideas?: Yeah, that Roam Research app they're talking about works. It really works.