The PAS Copywriting Formula Explained (Problem – Agitate – Solution)

Copywriting formulas are great ways to increasing your copy’s effectiveness. One of the most commonly used formulas is the PAS formula.

Below, I’ll go over the PAS copywriting formula and how to implement it in your copywriting.

If you’re interested in this copywriting formula you may want to check out our post ‘A Copywriter’s Guide to the Best Copywriting Formulas’ which contains an extensive list of all the best formulas.

What is the PAS Formula?

Part of the appeal of the PAS copywriting formula is its simplicity. You can understand it just by looking at its name. PAS stands for Problem (sometimes called Pain), Agitate, Solution.


The first goal of the formula is to identify the key problem you want to address in your copy. This is the key to creating a response from your target audience. It behaves similarly to the stars in a star-chain-hook or star-story-solution formula but presents a negative or frightening focal point instead of a positive one.

If you’re writing copy for a shoe company, consider the problems most customers experience. Shoes wearing out too quickly, discomfort over prolonged use, etc., can all be prime concerns to address in your copy.

Conduct research as well. Peruse online forums for the customer base and read client or competitor product reviews to find the most relevant problems.


The second stage is agitating or accentuating the problem point. Your audience already has an idea of how terrifying or difficult the problem can be, but you want to show it is even worse than they thought.

Make the problem emotional. Highlight negative experiences and stories created by the problem. The reader should come away feeling like it is unacceptable and unbelievable that they have to put up with this issue.

However, avoid reckless agitation that may turn away potential buyers. You only want to direct frustration at this specific problem. Avoid using harmful wording, inconsiderate examples, or overly crass language which could distract from the main issue.


Finally, you’re going to offer a solution to the terrible problem you’ve spent so much time agitating. This will come in the form of your client’s product or service.

Always present your solution as the absolute best one available. Employ emotion again to drive the point home. Write with empathy and understanding, describing just how much time, money, or hassle this specific solution will save.

You should view this as a stronger than normal call to action (CTA). This is what most copywriting formula final steps boil down to, though some, like the AIDA formula, are more obvious about it than others.

The PAS Formula in Practice

It’s one thing to lay out all of the parts of the formula and another to see it in action. Here is a brief example of the PAS copywriting formula in practice to help you better implement it in your own copy. 

For this practice, we’ll invent a bakery company. They have had great small pastry sales, but want to increase larger inventory sales. Their only current larger inventory items are cakes.

The first step in the formula is finding the problem, so we have to consider what problems would prevent people from buying cakes. Most people buy cakes for birthdays and other celebrations, but what if an attendee is allergic to eggs or other cake ingredients? They could buy an alternative dessert for that person, but that can feel like a hassle or exclusionary. Luckily, this bakery has a large number of allergy-friendly cake options! 

Now all you have to do is follow the PAS formula with your cake allergy problem in mind. Your copy may end up looking like this:

Problem. A cake is a great way to bring the whole family or office together. However, those with major food allergies to eggs, dairy, or tree nuts, are always left out. 

Agitate. You could find an alternative for them, but who is ever happy with that? And what if you forget? Even momentary contact could be extremely harmful, or deadly, for those who accidentally ingest allergens.

Solution. Spare yourself the stress, worry, and unhappy party-goers by purchasing one of our allergen-free cakes for your next birthday party and other events. No one needs to feel left out of the celebration! Each of our regular cake options comes in an allergen-free variety while keeping the same handmade, delicious flavor.

When to Use the PAS Formula

While the PAS formula can be used for just about any form of copy, the goal of your copy should be compatible with the formula’s structure. The PAS formula utilizes anger and frustration in order to sell. Copy or content lacking those emotions won’t be able to make the most of the formula.


Even if you never end up using the PAS copywriting formula, it is still a helpful tool to keep in your back pocket. It is simple, reliable, and can help you come up with a framework for projects in a pinch.


What is the PASO Copywriting Formula?

The PASO copywriting formula is a variation of the PAS formula. It adds an extra step after the solution, called the outcome. This is meant to provide an example of how this purchase will improve the customer’s life.

This step behaves much like the agitate step, except it highlights the solution instead of the problem. Usually, this includes testimonials or other evidence of the benefits to previous customers.

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About Grant Simpson

Grant Simpson is a professional content writer with experience in SEO and B2C content. He also works as a freelance creative writer and is a published poet under the name g.c. simpson. Outside of work, he enjoys reading good books and has a cup of coffee within reach at all hours of the day.

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