Create Ad Copywriting Wizardry With These 4 Time-Tested Formulas

Create Ad Copywriting Wizardry With These 4 Time-Tested Formulas

Coming up with an effective ad is challenging. Sadly there is no app that can consistently create effective real estate ads. Thankfully, these 4 almost magical copywriting formulas can make this process a whole lot easier.

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Misael Lizarraga
Senior Content Coordinator
Table Of Contents

Do you ever struggle to put together real estate copy? Do you wish there was an easier way to write persuasive ads?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a few magic formulas you could use to fast-track your ad writing process?

While there has been all kind of advances in AI, software, and marketing apps, real estate ad copywriting still needs to be done by hand.

But just because there’s no easy button for copywriting a great marketing campaign, it doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel every time you create an ad. There are many time-tested ad copywriting formulas you can use to help you get started. Let’s take a look at 4 of them.

classic ad copywriting

AIDA – The Timeless Classic

AIDA is the most well-known ad copywriting formula out there, and it has been in the copywriter’s arsenal since the late 1800s. 

In fact, the majority of copywriting formulas out there are either variations of AIDA, or owe inspiration to it.

The steps of the AIDA model are simple:

Attention – The attention span of people is quite short. You need to present something that immediately grabs your readers’ attention, or you risk losing their interest forever.

You can grab their attention by presenting something that shocks them out of their ordinary lives (such as a shocking, funny, out-of-the-ordinary, or appealing image, emotionally stirring statistics, etc.). 

However, just because you have a prospect’s attention once it doesn’t mean you have it until the end of your presentation. You must keep their attention all the way until you get past your call to action.

Interest – Now that you grabbed your prospect’s attention, you’ll need to get them interested in what you have to offer. This can be achieved in many different ways. 

You could mention some interesting stats that prove your expertise as a real estate agent (i.e.: we helped 60 young families find their dream home in the last 6 months). 

Or maybe address a common real estate problem that people in your target demographic are trying to solve (i.e.: Stairs are one of the most common culprits behind mobility challenged individuals’ injuries).

Desire – It’s not enough to grab your reader’s attention and interest. Now you have to make them desire your services.

How? By appealing to their personal interests. Get your prospect to desire your services by highlighting the personal benefit they will get by using your services.

Will their lifestyle improve? Do you make a difficult process easier? Will they save or make more money? 

It’s your time to highlight those benefits!

But, it’s crucial not to confuse those benefits with features. Sure, it may sound impressive to you and other real estate agents that you offer 3d Matterport tours, or that you won an award for your staging services, or even that you wrote an article at Forbes.

But clients will only care about how those features in your services will benefit them personally.

Action – Here’s where all of your efforts pay off. Convince your client to take a certain action. Preferably one that will move them closer to becoming your clients. 

Your call-to-action to your prospects could be an invitation to give you a call, a link to your Google Calendar to schedule a free consultation, or a landing page to download a real estate guide.

How does the AIDA ad copywriting formula look in real life?

Though we’re not 100% sure that Pam Golding Properties from South Africa used the AIDA formula, all the elements are there.

dog ad aida
Image: Pam Golding Properties

First of all, this ad immediately grabs your attention with this adorable puppy relaxing on a couch.

Next, it builds interest by telling you that the best seat in the house belongs in your dream home.

It fosters desire by claiming that you can find not just a home, but also your dream home. 

And how can you make that desire come true? By calling Pam Golding Properties.

PAS formula

PAS – Problem, Agitate, Solution

The PAS formula is another favorite among copywriters (including myself).

This formula is as simple as one, two, three. It’s quite flexible, very focused, takes the bare essentials of an ad copywriting formula and runs with it.

But don’t let its simplicity fool you. It’s very effective. It works on blog posts, marketing emails, tv and print ads, and any other form of marketing.

This formula works the following way

Problem: Spell out the problem that your reader is facing. Think about your local niche, and focus on a problem that its population deals with constantly in real estate.

Do you serve the downsizing retiree market? Mention how stairs can be a problem.

First-time buyers? Talk about how difficult it is to save up for a decent down payment.

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Agitate: Rub salt in the wound. Highlight the problem even more, preferably using emotional language. 

Going back to the issue of stairs, you could mention how it’s a problem that weighs heavily on a retiree with mobility problems’ mind, and how it takes away from their enjoyment of their home.

First-time buyers saving for a downpayment? Mention how impossible it seems, since a growing number of people need to take several jobs just to make ends meet.

Solution: Present the solution to the problem. How will your services help them overcome that problem? By providing safety in their time of need, you’ll come across as a hero that vanquishes their dragon-sized problem.

How does the PAS ad copywriting formula look in real life? did a great job of using just the bare essentials to get their message across in this ad.

realtor ad covered home

First of all, this ad immediately catches your eye. An entire home covered in a black tarp, kind of like the ones used for pest control. But this home is not being fumigated. It’s being obscured from sight on purpose.

Second, the ad immediately addresses a common problem experienced by home buyers. Searching for the right home on Zillow, and not finding what they want.

Next, the article agitates the problem by letting the buyer know that they are missing on thousands of homes, one which could be the home of their dreams. Literally obscuring this home drives that point home (pun intended) even more.

Finally, the solution is presented as on the right side of the ad. This ad doesn’t waste any words, which is fantastic since it’s mainly aimed at prospects driving by, which don’t have a lot of time to read (since they’re hopefully focused on the road ahead of them).

QUEST Formula

QUEST – Qualify, Understand, Educate, Stimulate, Transition

In a past article, we discussed the buyer’s journey. That’s the process a buyer goes through from becoming aware they need real estate services, to hiring you.  

The QUEST ad copywriting formula, developed by Michael Fortin, approaches the buyer’s journey from the seller’s perspective.

As the name suggests, QUEST works kinda like going on an actual quest. There’s the main goal, obstacles to overcome, a call to action and a final reward. Let’s take a look at the steps

Q – Qualify: Your first step is to qualify your audience members. In other words, you spell out who the ad is for and what problem you’re trying to solve. 

This is easier to do if you’re serving a specific, hyperlocal niche audience with very specific needs.

U – Understand – After qualifying your audience, you empathize with their problem, and show that you understand why it’s so frustrating to overcome from THEIR perspective. Just like in the PAS formula, it helps to agitate the problem, and intensify it. Use emotional language, not technical or jargon-heavy.

This section can also be used to build anticipation for your solution. That way you can maintain your prospect’s interest, and help get them excited for the end of their QUEST.

E – Educate –  You finally reveal that yes, indeed, there is a solution: yours. 

You now reveal your services and benefits. Highlight that your solution is not only the best in the business but also the right one for your prospects. In terms of your quest, this is the top of the mountain.

S – Sell – Here’s where you do the bulk of your salesmanship. Present your special offer, and talk about the value your services bring to the table. While you can talk about features, it’s best to talk about benefits. What’s in it for your clients?

T – Transition – You transition your reader from prospect to customer. It’s the famous “call to action” or “let’s wrap it up” stage.

This includes the order form, phone number they can call, link to a landing page, etc.

You can summarize your benefits, your special offer, and bring up an offer you haven’t disclosed yet (in order to sweeten the deal). 

A famous example is the “call in the next 30 minutes and you’ll also get a free _____”.

How does the QUEST ad copywriting formula look in real life?

British Columbia, Canada home developer Mosaic Homes does a perfect job of taking you on a QUEST in this ad.

golf homes ad
Image: Mosaic Homes

This ad immediately qualifies its intended audience: North Vancouver homebuyers that would love to live in a golf property. 

Homebuyers that would love to live near a golf course are typically (but not always) golf enthusiasts, and more well-to-do than young families looking for a starter home.

Next, it understands its audience. If you’re familiar with Vancouver’s extremely high housing prices, you would know that simply affording a home is a giant challenge. But choosing a golf community home? That sounds like an unreachable dream for golf enthusiasts that don’t have deep pockets.

And yet that’s exactly what Mosaic promises here. Unlike most other golf communities, this one promises to be more affordable than you think (“Live on the fairways. For a lot less green”).

It stimulates the reader by banking on Mosaic’s reputation as a developer and promises its prospects a good life at the golf course.

Lastly, it transitions to a call to action by providing a website, a phone number, and adds a slight amount of fear of missing out by mentioning that it’s “grand opening [is] today.” That way, if anyone is really interested in these homes, they better go soon before all these homes are gone.


The 4 U’s – Useful, Urgent, Unique, Ultra-Specific

Another popular ad copywriting formula, the 4 U’s is a great alternative to AIDA. This formula was developed by business coach Michael Masterson, and just like the last three, it works great for headlines, emails, ads, landing pages, billboards, etc.

Make your ad:

Urgent  – Urgency convinces people to open an email, read an article, or listen to a podcast. The biggest obstacle that ads must overcome is ad blindness. 

From driving to work, watching a video, going on social media, or flipping through your emails, we’re all bombarded by ads on every waking hour of our lives. That’s why your ad needs to provide something so drastic, arresting and out of the ordinary that it causes your audience to drop whatever they are doing since what you have to say is clearly more urgent.

Useful – By far the most important aspect of this formula, if your ad isn’t presenting anything useful to your reader, it may as well not exist.

Your ad must be useful or valuable to your reader from the first sentence.

How? By offering a benefit or solving a problem that your reader is likely to have.

Unique – Uniqueness is critical to your ad’s success. Your contacts are bombarded by all kinds of real estate ads. Most of them will be coming from your competitors. That’s why you need to offer something that stands out from your competition. 

Do you serve a specific niche? Double-down on it. 

Do you have a unique listing you’re looking to promote? Explain why it’s so unique and needs to be seen to be believed.

Ultra-Specific – Avoid cliches, generalities, and platitudes. Yes, you’re a good agent, and you offer a white-glove service. But EVERYONE else offers that.

Explain specifically why you’re a good agent, and why can you specifically say you offer a white-glove service.

How does the 4U’s ad copywriting formula look in real life?

This ad by Robert Realty from San Diego California does an awesome job of addressing the 4 U’s in just a few words.

5 u's ad
Image: Robert Realty

First of all, this ad creates a sense of urgency by announcing that Robert Realty will soon list a rare 5 bedroom home. This helps build hype and interest among buyers interested in the area.

It’s useful to interested buyers because it shows the price, number of bedrooms, and location.

It’s unique because it features a rare property for a good price (for the area).

Finally, it’s ultra-specific. It features just one property and the message is focused.

You Too Can Write Great Ads

Ad copywriting is as much an art as it is a science. It uses human psychology to determine how we make decisions and uses that information to make more compelling ads. But just like any art, it requires practice and dedication in order to get better at it.

If you use these ad copywriting formulas in your real estate campaigns, you’ll be off to a great start in creating better ad copy that captures more leads, and converts them into loyal clients.

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