Four magical content formulas

If you thought there was only one formula for writing content – beginning, middle and end – then you’d be wrong. According to Kevan Lee on Buffer, there are at least 27 different ways to write content.

That’s too many to remember, so here’s our pick of four that Kevan has identified:

1. Before – After – Bridge

Content that follows this structure sets out two situations – one before, one after – and then shares how to move from one to the other (the bridge). It may sound simple, but the structure is powerful, and especially if the bridge you offer is credible and backed up with good advice.

For instance, an article on how to get better sleep may start with describing the woes of insomnia and its further effects in life. Then the writer would talk about ideal sleep, and how this can improve other aspects of life, like mood, work or physical fitness. The bridge? Fairly obvious, but trustworthy, realistic, easy-to-follow tips on improving sleep.

2. Features – Advantages – Benefits (FAB)

Especially useful if you’re talking about a product. Instead of filling your article with what the product does, instead set out its main advantages and how these will benefit the customer. Of course you can start by setting out some of its most important features, but the key is not to dwell. If a reader has found your content because they want to solve a problem, you’ll forge a better connection by talking about what matters to them.

3. Attention – Interest – Desire – Action (AIDA)

Copy has to work harder in the internet age, and it’s fair to say that content that fails to scream for attention is likely to be missed. You can achieve this with a headline or a joke in your opening paragraph. At some point, you’ll need to pique the reader’s interest and create a desire within them. You can achieve the first of these with some obscure facts or telling statistics, and then create some desire either through describing an ideal situation or constructing a strong argument to do something. Then the concluding action section should be easy to write – perhaps it could be a specially designed call to action or a simple request asking readers to follow an embedded link.

4. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 for persuasive copy

If you face the awkward task of selling a product, then break your content into four, as follows:

– What I’ve got for you

– What it’s going to do for you

– Who am I?

– What you need to do next

As Kevan says:

This four-question formula has some great ties to the storytelling opener of previous formulas, with a useful twist. After telling the story and explaining the benefits, you then get to sell the reader on your authority. Who are you and why should someone listen to you? Explain that part well enough, and you can breeze to the call-to-action in the final step.

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