Headlines and PAS Formula

Presented live on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

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So I’ve been dreaming up this experiment, which I’m calling The Practice:

Inspired by my ridiculous obsession with Peloton, The Practice is a timed practice session in which you get an assignment at the start of the session… and then you and I EACH actively work on that assignment during an X-minute writing sprint. Then we take a quick break. Then we repeat. For 20 minutes.

It’s a live writing exercise.

And it’s all about fingertips moving fast on keyboard.

Less theorizing. More doing.

To build strength as a hands-on copywriter.

To build muscle memory.


Joanna Wiebe: Okay, you’ll see when I start the timer.

Rashi Mehra: Okay.

Joanna Wiebe: Hello, everybody. Welcome. Tutorial Tuesdays is back after a summer break. Summer for us. We’re so glad to see you here this morning for this. 

What to Expect in This Tutorial [00:19]

The Practice. We’re calling it The Practice. Are we ready?

Angela is going to share her screen, there will be a timer involved. I will be live writing. You will be live writing. We’re going to start with a brief introduction to what the practice is.

And then pretty swiftly, we’re going to dive into it. I haven’t had any time to prepare for what’s coming. The writing here, in case you’re like, Oh, she knows what’s going to happen, and blah, blah, blah. Nope. There’s been no time.

What is The Practice? [00:51] 

Here’s what we’re going to do. The Practice is all about hands-on work. So getting your fingertips on the keyboard. Because so much of what we do is training, training, training. And then you have to go out and do the work, and you’re like, I forget everything I learned.

I have no muscle memory when it comes to my muscles as a copywriter. It’s all in my brain and not in my hands. There’s not a lot of hands-on work that happens. So that’s what the practice is all about.

Based on my obsession with Peloton, which Angela is now developing as well. So it’s based on that kind of idea, so we’re going to work. If you want to write on paper like Melissa just said, go for it, write on paper.

Otherwise, we’re just going to work in our Google Docs, you’ll be working in your own Google doc, Airstory doc, Word doc, whatever it is that you use.  I’ll be working on mine. I do encourage you to look up at what I’m doing, every so often. 

How Does The Practice Work? [01:49]

Here’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to give you an assignment. It is a thing you’ll need to do over the next 15 minutes you’ll have about 13 minutes of actual work time. There will be a timer on the screen, but it’ll only show on my camera. So if you can’t see me, you’ll want to double click on my screen in order to bring me up, my window.

If you can’t see me right now,  just scroll through until you find me. The timer is not on there yet, because we haven’t started. When the timer starts, you will have a breakdown of everything that we’re going to do over the course of that 15 minutes. Rashi will be keeping us on track with exactly what to do. 

The Assignment [02:34]

Okay, so here’s the basic assignment. The challenge today is to rewrite The Asana homepage hero section. So go to asana.com as part of this, using the PAS framework. Most of us know about the PAS framework.

PAS Framework:

  • Problem
  • Agitation
  • Solution

I’m not going to get into it. The practice is not about training, it’s about doing. You will have time to quickly go research this if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Alright, we are about to start the timer, because we’re about to start the actual work as soon as I start this timer. Ange is going to hit enter and we will get cracking.

All right, you should see the timer going right now. Here’s the game plan. We already are seven seconds down. 

We’re going to run through the game plan first. So the first two minutes is me briefing you on this stuff. Don’t worry, and if we’re allowed to just like it’s cool. Everything that happens here is cool. It’s what happens. Okay

The Game-Plan – 2 minutes [03:54]

  • 2 mins: Briefing and game-plan
  • 2 mins: Get familiar with product and PAS framework
  • 3 mins: List problems that motivate search
  • (60 secs)
  • 2 mins: Write headlines
  • (30 secs)
  • 3 mins: Write agitation copy
  • (30 secs)
  • 1 min: Polish / Edit

Game Plan is you are going to go through everything showing here in this orange list, Rashi is going to keep time, keep challenging us through it. Tell us what’s coming up next. Tell us when something is finishing up. 

Sophie, your question. Where’s the hero page in Asana? It’s the homepage hero section. That’s the very top of the page. Ange, if you can hit Enter again, they’ll see that on the screen right there. Cool.

Okay, we have got a minute left to brief you so that’s what we’re going to go do. Then for two minutes we’re going to get familiar with the Asana product that means you’ve got two minutes to quickly read through what Asana is about if you’re like, what the hell is this thing? I don’t know. And if you know, cool. You’re already ahead of it. I tried to pick a common one. If you don’t know what the PAS framework is, Google that. You’ve got two minutes to get ready for the remainder of that time. 

Then we’ll have three minutes to list the problems that motivate our search. Rashi will be telling us exactly what to do along the way so we’re not confused. Then we’ll have 60 seconds to reflect on those problems. Like, what brought a person to even think of trying to find a solution like Asana. Why are they there? What problems drove them there? You’ll reflect on those, then two minutes to dive in.

Write some headlines. 30 seconds, reflect on those headlines. Three minutes to agitate those with bullet points. It’s going to be hard.

I’ll be freaking out. You’ll be freaking out. We’ll just be working together. 30 seconds to reflect, one minute to polish and edit. We are going in seven seconds. You’ve got two minutes to go research Asana and the PAS framework. Then we’re going to list out problems. Let’s go.

Get Familiar With the Product and PAS Framework – 2 minutes [05:21]

Ange, switch over to my Google Doc, and I’m going to get going, you’re going to get going. And Rashi’s on timer right now. Yep.

Rashi Mehra: Okay, so this is the warm up. It’s your time to do research, study up on Asana. Get grounded. Soak it all in.

Joanna Wiebe: Cool. Oh, oh, it’s a new homepage this morning. That’s so crazy. Yesterday it was a different homepage. This is the reality of the world that we all work in. This is amazing.

Rashi Mehra: So, Asana is project management for teams. Get to know the solution, you’ll be writing about.

Joanna Wiebe: A little over a minute left.

Rashi Mehra: So Jo’s Googling right now. You can’t see it on the screen, but she’s doing her research. Not a writing time. It’s totally just about absorbing the client.

You also might want to pull up resources for PA, as you might want to refer to it later.

Got like 40 seconds left.

Jo’s putting some notes down.

15 seconds.

Joanna Wiebe: What’s weird in their homepage is they’ve got these call-outs in the hero section are all very different. So the problems driving here, I feel like are going to be really broad.

List Problems That Motivate Search – 3 minutes [07:27]

Rashi Mehra: Okay, we’re in the next segment. Three minutes, you are going to list the problems that are motivating someone to search for this solution. So just brainstorm. No copywriting right now. You’re just making a list.

Three minutes. So a lot of time.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, lots of time!

Rashi Mehra: What are the problems your reader has coming to this page, hoping to solve.

Two minutes left.

About a minute and a half left.

You’re just making a list. You guys are doing great.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, Lots of things that could drive a person here and I was gonna go do research on this as well. Normally, I would run off and do Voice of Customer,  just do some Google searches, like the formula that we use for Google review mining. 

Uhm, but no. Not right now. We’re just flying through ideas at this point. We can make it sound better later. G2 crowd for Andrew. That’s awesome. Yeah, I was thinking Capterra, but awesome G2 crowd reviews. Wicked.

How much time do we have, Rashi?

Rashi Mehra: Like, 43 seconds.

Joanna Wiebe: All right. Yep.

Rashi Mehra: And then you’re going to get a little break after this, so use it up.

Joanna Wiebe: Awesome. We’ve got Amanda on Trustpilot, checking things out. That’s a good call.

Rashi Mehra: 25 seconds left.

I see you in the chat. You are making a list of problems that somebody would search for Asana to help them with.

And we are at time. Okay, we’ve got 60 seconds to just recover and reflect.

Jo, how are you feeling?

Joanna Wiebe: I am feeling bad. So, I’m over on Asana. Sorry, I’m on Trustpilot looking up a Asana. So I’ve just started doing that great call from Amanda. So, I’m going to go through and try to get deeper into what those problems look like because the next section, after we reflect on this, is jumping in and writing headlines right away. 

So for me, right now, I’m going to look through what I’ve got here and see if there’s anything I can use to write a headline, in problem stage. So what is the problem that’s driving somebody to this point? It doesn’t have to be problem stage of awareness. Sorry. They can still be Asana and product aware, but what’s the problem that they have with products that drove them here? I don’t know yet. I’m going to go look through and see.

Write Headlines – 2 minutes [11:21]

Rashi Mehra: We’re moving into the headline section. You’ve got two minutes, starting now.

Joanna Wiebe: Yep. Cool, cool, cool.

Rashi Mehra: So you’re free writing, forget about time just write. You don’t have to come up with 20 headlines. Just do what feels right for you.

Joanna Wiebe: Katie says write headlines as showing in the Google Doc right now on Ange’s screen? Exactly. I’m writing headlines, or I’m trying to, in this two minute time.

Rashi Mehra: Yeah, so we’re doing two minutes of headlines. You’ve actually got about a minute and a half left.

Joanna Wiebe: So again, there’s no limit of any kind. Nope. There’s nothing.

Rashi Mehra: This is all just your exercise, you putting words down on the page just come up with headlines. Don’t overthink it. Just see this as like an exercise, an action.

Joanna Wiebe: Abhir asked, why start with headlines? Why not body and then headlines? We’re purely doing it because that’s the exercise. This is not about best practices and conversion copywriting. This is about just sit down and do the work. Get out of your head. Get your words on the page.

Rashi Mehra: About 10 seconds left. And time to recover and reflect you’ve only got 30 seconds to take a breath, relax.

Halfway through. Doing awesome.

Joanna Wiebe: Next up is agitation copy. That means will be writing bullets or a little paragraph or whatever it is. It’s agitating that headline. Madeline said, this is honestly very fun. You know you’re a geeky copywriter when…

And I say that was full love, Madeline, because I also think it’s fun. And Sandra. And Jessica. That’s awesome!

Write Agitation Copy – 3 minutes

Rashi Mehra: All right, let’s go! Three minutes agitation copy, that’s all you’re focusing on. Don’t worry about the headline you just wrote, just move on to the next section. A full three minutes. You brought up a pain in your headline and now you just need to agitate that pain.

Don’t get caught up on anything that you already wrote, just move forward. Put words down on the page. You’ve got about two minutes left, a little over two minutes.

Angela Stojanov: So how are those minutes feeling, are they feeling incredibly long, or incredibly short?

Joanna Wiebe: Super long! So much time!

Rashi Mehra: So short, everyone. I’m in pain, Chris Collins.

Joanna Wiebe: Oh, Jasmine’s like, shhhh!

Rashi Mehra: A little over a minute left.

Joanna Wiebe: Ooh, damn! That’s okay. That’s okay.

Rashi Mehra: If you’re feeling stuck, just keep writing all the words you’ve got in your head, just put them down on the page. Don’t overthink it.

35 seconds left.

15 seconds. Then you get a short break.

Alright, and it’s time. 30 seconds to recover. Stretch. You’re actually done with all the hard stuff. So next is just a minute to polish. But first, just chill out.

Breathe. Take a much deserved rest.

Joanna Wiebe: Oh, Cynthia said, that that felt long. Okay, we have this is the end, 8 seconds until we go back in.

Rashi Mehra: You’re going to polish up everything you’ve written. Just get it ready, it’s only editing so take it home. All right, let’s go.

Polish / Edit – 2 minutes [17:20]

Joanna Wiebe: Oh, okay.

Rashi Mehra: Just polishing up your copy. Final touches.

If you want to tweak one part of the work you did. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just focus on your headline or focus on your agitation copy. You’ve got 20 seconds left.

10 seconds.

It’s the first time, first time for everyone.

Alright, time’s up.

Joanna Wiebe: All right, we’re done. Everybody. Um, okay, how do we feel? We are going to send out a poll after this. Know that it’s okay to feel weird. Eric’s like, Jo’s copy is too long for a hero section. Yeah, it is.

Great, now I cut out like eight words and I added 10 back in. I’m, I’m proud of us, I think we did pretty well. Round of applause, everybody.

Angela Stojanov: Yaaaa!

Joanna Wiebe: Your copy may not be the best copy you’ve ever written. But what did just happen is you just exercise your muscles a little bit and now when it’s time for us to go forward and do the work that we have to do. We’ve already warmed up a bit today, so I feel really good about that and seeing lots of chats on it sounds like everybody had fun except for those who dropped off already.

Alright, we are at the very end. You guys have been amazing. Thank you everybody who has stuck around until over two minutes after the 30 minute break.

And we’ll hopefully see you next week. We were thinking of doing a Practice next week, but it might be a little too much for this girl to handle. So, we will see. But, thanks again. Stay safe out there. Be nice out there. And we will see you guys next week on our next Tutorial Tuesdays. Bye, everyone.

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