The PAS Copywriting Formula Simply Explained (With Real Examples)

PAS Copywriting Formula

If you’re new to copywriting you might be wondering what the problem-agitate-solution (PAS) copywriting formula is all about. You might also know it as the pain-agitate-solve formula. However, it doesn’t matter which one you use, they’re both the same.

Since it’s one of the more straightforward formulas you could apply to your copy it’s worth knowing how to execute it effectively. The beauty of the PAS formula is that you can apply it to a single Facebook ad or lengthy sales page. 

In this article, I’ll break down what it is, how to apply it, and some quick hacks you might want to employ for even better results. 

1. Problem

The first part of the PAS formula is correctly identifying the problem. It’s also the most important part of your copy.

You need to correctly identify the customer's problem so your copy acts as a slippery slope to the call-to-action (CTA). If the problem is wrong then the reader won’t have any reason to continue reading. 

When it comes to identifying the problem, the easiest way to do this is by conducting customer interviews. You can simply ask the following questions:

  • What are you trying to get done by using {insert product or service}?
  • Which problems are you trying to solve by using {insert product or service}?

Here's an example of calling out their problem statement early in the copy.

lemon io problem statement problem statement (above the fold)

This will usually make the problem statement clear. 

Here are some headline formulas you could apply to make this process even more effective. 

  • {Achieve desirable outcome} without {pain point} 
  • The {opposite of what the process usually is like} way to {achieve desirable outcome} 
  • Never {unpleasant event} again 
  • You don't have to {skills or resources your audience doesn't have} to {achieve desirable  outcome} 
  • {Question highlighting the main pain point your product solves}

2. Agitate

The second part of this formula is where you need to agitate the reader. This isn’t an invitation to insult them or be rude. 

Your goal is to prove just how big and annoying their problem is. Especially if they don’t take action and fix it right away. You can do this in a few ways:

  1. Reference an alarming statistic
  2. Showcase life with and without your product
  3. Point out how their life is going to get harder without fixing their problem

In another article I wrote about the PAS formula, I use the example of a food subscription company for cats. The product isn’t that special but the landing page manages to agitate the reader really well. 

Smalls landing page agitation example

Notice the last sentence “because we actually care about cats🙃”. This indirectly agitates the readers that feed their cat's cheap food. 

3. Solution

By now your reader knows they have a problem and they’re open to solving it. Especially since you’ve agitated them a little bit. 

There are two key elements to the solution part of this formula:

  1. Making the solution very obvious and enticing
  2. Creating urgency so the reader takes action now

To make the solution compelling enough you need to translate all the product features into clear benefits. When you see a product feature ask yourself “how does this help the customer?”

For instance, if you’re selling a nootropic, instead of saying “our product contains L-Theanine” you should say “Our product will improve your ability to remember names and concentrate for longer periods of time”. A customer is much more likely to resonate with this.

[ Related article: 14 Best Copywriting Newsletters To Subscribe To ]

The next step is to create urgency. Your reader should be sold by now. They know about their problem and you’ve proved just how important it is for them to get it solved.  

Here’s an example of creating urgency in their CTA. 

Jasper landing page and CTA that make the solution obvious

When reading “Your AI Content Co-Pilot Is Ready To Write For You” it makes the reader feel like once they signup all the problems they have will be gone. No more writer's block, better content, better ideas, it’s all waiting for you once you get started.

When to apply the PAS Copywriting Formula

When writing copy, my first choice is usually the AIDCA formula although the PAS formula is very simple. Copywriters usually opt for the PAS method because it’s very versatile. Whenever you’re writing to sell you can reference this formula. 

The formula can be applied to loads of things including landing pages, ad copy, email sequences, and product pages. I would avoid trying to apply this method if you’re not trying to sell something. 

Related article: Copywriting For Beginners

Is the PAS copywriting method better than the AIDA copywriting method?

This is a question a lot of copywriters will ask themselves. 

And it’s completely fair. 

They want to know which formula is the most effective. 

Whenever I’m writing copy I tend to use the PAS formula more loosely. This means I know there’s a general theme where I have to identify a problem, agitate, and then offer the solution. If I want to go a step further and follow a more structured approach I’ll use the AIDCA formula (which is a slight variation of AIDA).  This makes sure I add conviction to whatever I am writing. This could be reviews, examples, or testimonials.

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The PAS copywriting formula is a very simple yet effective framework for writing copy. It’s great for navigating basic sales pages or email sequences. Whether you’re a beginner copywriter or a veteran making millions from your sites it’s worth applying. Here’s the formula:

  • Problem: Identify the reader's problem quickly and accurately.
  • Agitate: Show the user how bad their problem is, especially if unresolved.
  • Solution: Make your solution an obvious one and create urgency.

Related article: How to start a copywriting business without any experience


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