The Four “P” Approach: A Persuasive Writing Structure That Works

The Four “P” Approach: A Persuasive Writing Structure That Works

Reader Comments (53)

  1. Hmm. Seems familiar. Gee, I wonder what famous copywriter (whose name is trademarked and can’t be mentioned) used the 4P’s?

    I’d tell you, but then I’d have to sue myself.

  2. Harlan, I’ve only seen John Forde talk about it, and he never credited a source (that’s why he got the link). If you came up with it (as opposed to only “used” it) I’ll be glad to give you credit.

    And I hope you’re joking about the name trademark… otherwise you don’t understand trademark law. 🙂

  3. Nice Post Brian, another acronym to help put the main focus in perspective. What formula or style prefer, having something established and set like this always helps a writer focus their attention and overall goal of what they are writing.


  4. Great post simplifying the widely used 4 P’s 🙂

    And to comment about the “creation” of it… Exact concepts within copywriting, journalism, and editorial writing can be traced back as far as the 60’s — with some pretty ingenius thinkers in old school advertising 🙂

  5. It’s not me.

    And I’ve been threatened with law suits for mentioning his name.

    We call him Lord Voldermort – He who must not be named.

    Forde probably “lifted” it from Lord Voldermort.

  6. Nice post. The four P’s seem to correspond quite closely with AIDA. In fact, while I was reading them I saw some overlap with AIDA and how the 4Ps could be used together with AIDA.

  7. Brian,

    Yet another tool to add to my growing toolbelt.

    BTW, I don’t see any formatting issues. Also, I’m not sure what the trademark issue is? Mayhap a good topic for a future post from my favorite copyblogger… 😉



  8. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the great post. It was refreshing to see that I had in fact used all of the 4P’s when creating my own sales page even though I was unaware of them at the time.

  9. What happens when your client wants short, succinct copy where you’d be lucky to get ONE ”P” in there (take your pick), let alone the other 3?

  10. Great post. I didn’t know there are such “schemes” to writing before, and although I’m sure it’s very beneficial and clever to have some strategy to writing, it still takes a great amount of skill to make it enjoyable and not too artificial.
    I mean, there are a lot of copys out there that immediately came to my mind who use some of these strategys and they’re just too obvious, it doesn’t achieve the desired effect.
    I’m curious: could you give some links as examples who uses this scheme effecively?

  11. Writing is an art and some of the best writers wrote great pieces of work by not having to following any sort of technique. It is like telling an artist to stay inside the lines.

  12. This post arrived just in time. I enjoy writing, but I am not focused and clear enough. I tend to use too many words that need to be trimmed and reorganized. Yours is a useful tool that, with practice, may help me spend more time with my wife and dogs. They thank you, too.

  13. Great set of tips! I actually write alot using the 4P method….It’s nice to see that it actually has some merit 🙂

    Thanks again,
    Dr. Ben

  14. Bencivenga has 5 Ps so it can’t be him.

    I love these nuts & bolts pieces, they help me sharpen up things I do mostly by instinct. I will add this one to my bag o’ tricks.

  15. Lovely article. I cut my teeth on the 4Ps when I got into copywriting. That was about 8 years ago. And of all the formulas I’ve learned since, I still think it’s the best. It paints the most compelling picture of what a copywriter needs to do.

    @Mark Even if you have fourteen words to work with, you can still figure out how to weave all four Ps into it. Not easy. But you can do it.

  16. Hi Brian, Harlan, et al…

    John here. A Google alert lead me to this article, so I thought I’d comment. First, Brian, many thanks for the mention! I love your site… it’s easily in the top five of my favorite copy-related websites. Maybe even my top three. Anytime you want to run one of your articles in my Copywriter’s Roundtable ezine, let me know. I’d be happy to.

    About the Four Ps, I also thank you for not crediting me with inventing them but just with talking about them in seminars, etc. I wouldn’t presume the credit (and as you mentioned, never have).

    Where did I first hear about them? From copywriter extraordinaire Michael Masterson, who has been a personal mentor of mine and good friend for the last 14 or so years. He taught the sequence to me and we’ve both used it to train hundreds of internal employees at an international publishing company as well as… I’m guessing… a couple thousand participants over the years in copywriting seminars and “bootcamps.”

    I prefer it to the much more commonly known AIDA because it’s easier to remember and, I think, more easily explained.

    As for it being trademarked, I highly doubt that, simply because the original “Four Ps” of marketing represents something else entirely (Price, Product, Place, and Promotion rather than Promise, Picture, Proof, Push).

    I do know that somewhere once I heard it credited to a marketing text written in the late 1950s. Whether that’s accurate or not, I don’t know. Many of the times I’ve talked about it — and more than I can count at this point — I’ve openly left the credit dangling for anyone willing to step up and resolve.

    Might be that Harlan has the key to the mystery, which would be great. I’m happen to credit it to the rightful creator any time. And I’ll continue to recommend it regardless. Great tool.



  17. Nice article Brian, I think these elements seem to be the foundation of any good piece of copy. No matter which way you slice it, the fundamentals never change.

    I don’t know who or where it may have originated, but I see it present in many of the books and reports I come across so I know it’s widely relied upon.

    Anyway, I like how you expanded on AIDA and how it relates to the 4Ps , showing how the 4Ps provide more detail as to the why and how of each part.

    Good stuff man. Thanks.

  18. What a useful article. Any more structures you’d like to share would be appreciated e.g. what’s the most elaborate structure you’ve come across?

  19. It’s not me.

    And I’ve been threatened with law suits for mentioning his name.

    We call him Lord Voldermort – He who must not be named.

    Forde probably “lifted” it from Lord Voldermort.

  20. Statistics, studies, graphs, charts, third-party facts, testimonials, a demonstration that the features of your product deliver the benefits you’ve promised—these are all part of the Proof section of your piece.

  21. I am a new blogger and has always considered myself a better writer more than anything else. But this has put me to shame for I still have so much to learn and develop my own style. So thank you.

  22. I like how you expanded on AIDA and how it relates to the 4Ps , showing how the 4Ps provide more detail as to the why and how of each part.

  23. Great article Brian and excellent food for thought. I’m generally more of a freestyle writer in that I’m not so structured but understand the basics of what makes a good/ great compelling read.

    As a marketer at heart I was always brought up on the 4 Ps of marketing – as mentioned above – Product, Price, Promotion and Place and sometimes People (although you think that latter one would always be a given).

  24. I have come to resolve the issue about who invented the concept of the four P’s debated above.

    Since no one is claiming it, I will take credit. I have always been very comfortable taking credit for things and I see this as an excellent time to build my reputation as a copywriting guru (similar tactics earned me recognition in the screen writing business).

    It was not the vile Lord Voldermort nor the majestic creator of ETR. Nor Forde, though bless him for his truthful, if not excruciating honesty.

    It is was I. Now can we get back to thanking Brian for this excellent article. Thank you Brian. You are the Eugene Schwartz of our time.


    Ben Affleck and Mat Daemon.

  25. Thanks for such a great post. I understand the basic idea of “show dont tell” when writing but I’ve always had a problem with the PUSH phase. I really have to work on my writing skills. I’m picking up a lot of great information on good quality sites like this. Thanks.

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