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As a freelance copywriter I’m always on the lookout for frameworks that can help make my job easier.

There are quite a few different methods and formulas out there. Some more effective than others.

But what if there was a really simple formula you could use to convince and convert people using the classic structure of some of the most successful sales copywriting of all time?

There is. It’s called the “Four P” approach, and marketers and copywriters have been using it for decades to turn casual readers into wallet-opening, salivating customers.

I first heard about this “4P” framework recently on Derek Halpern’s podcast. He interviewed a marketer who managed to raise $140,000 in 9 days on Kickstarter using this technique.

It’s not just for direct response sales copywriters. It can be used to get better results from any of your writing, from emails to blog posts, argumentative essays, to video scripts. It can even be used offline in things like conversations with leads, public speaking … you name it.

Here’s how it works.

The 4Ps are: Promise. Picture. Proof. Pitch.

Let’s go through them one at a time and see how they work together to convince the reader and motivate them to action.

Promise

This is your big claim. It’s how you get attention. It can take the form of a headline and/or the introductory copy of your piece.

This promise is what your product (or content) is going to DO for the reader. How will it improve their lives? This is the big claim that will get them in, get them interested, and which you’ll need to support later.

Picture

This is where you paint a picture for the reader.

You use emotive language to get them to visualise how your product or service is going to change their life.

You don’t want any facts or figures (or other proof) here. Just straight out emotive language that will paint a picture of how things are going to be when they adopt your solution. This should be as specific as possible. Use imagery to make it as real as possible.

The whole point of this step is to get the reader to engage on an emotional level with whatever it is you’re promoting.

Remember: people make the decision to buy based on emotion. That’s what we’re doing here – appealing to their emotions.

Proof

Next, we need to back up our promise and the picture we’ve painted using cold, hard facts.

By now the reader (or listener) is interested, wants your solution, and is ready to buy. But they’re looking for reasons NOT to buy because buying presents the risk of loss.

The little voice in the back of their mind is now trying to talk them OUT of buying. It’s raising all those objections such as “what if it doesn’t work for me”, “what if it’s a scam”, “how will I justify it to my partner when they ask why I bought this?” To deal with this, and to reinforce your preceding two steps, you need to present compelling proof of your earlier claims.

This proof can take the form of testimonials, case studies, stats, figures, research results, product demonstrations, and other compelling data that appeals to the logical side of your prospect’s mind.

Pitch

(This step is often also referred to as “Push”, but I like “Pitch” better.)

The pitch is the final step. Now you need a great offer.

It can’t just be some standard call to action saying “buy my stuff.” It has to be a really compelling reason for them to act now and take advantage of everything you’ve been saying up to now. You might also use this step to recap what you’ve already said earlier, reminding them of the outcome of taking action now.

If you have any free bonuses, discounts, limited time offers, guarantees, or other factors that the prospect may not have considered up until now, now’s the time to roll them out.

The Result?

You’ve just walked the reader through the entire sales process from beginning to end. You’ve given them all the information they need to make a buying decision, and no irrelevant information they don’t need and that will just get in the way. And you’ve done it in the order that will be most effective for motivating them to take action.

Once you start thinking about sales copywriting in this framework, it makes things much less confusing. Your sales letters and other material can now have a structured flow that you use to guide your reader through the all-important steps towards closing the sale.

The other great thing is that by sticking to this framework, you aren’t tempted to add irrelevant details (about the PROCESS of what you’re offering) and instead can just focus on the important OUTCOMES for your prospect.

What do you think? Have you tried the 4P or similar copywriting formulas? Share your experiences in the comments.

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