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Analyzing 7 Proven Bullet Formulas: Why they work and how to use them

Analyzing 7 Proven Bullet Formulas: Why they work and how to use them

copywriting bullet formulas

Everyone's obsessed with 'headline formulas' nowadays.


And I get it: people want a convenient way to come up with attention-grabbing, eye-popping, door-busting headlines...


Problem is, headlines are crazy complicated and need a TON of work that's only visible under the hood.


And although there are some proven headline formulas out there (here's a useful list of 39 formulas that you can use), nobody really talks about bullet formulas.


Yet, they're just as important for a sales message, regardless if that message happens to be on a sales page, in an email campaign, or a Facebook Ad.


People often ignore the potential of persuasive bullets, and end up leaving a lot of money on the table as a result.


(Plus, bad bullets lead to the dreaded 'features vs benefits' confusion - the bane of copywriting).


So in today's post, I'm gonna give you 7 bullet formulas that have been tested over decades, and consistently convert well in any industry, for any product!


You can use these bullet formulas for desire-building product descriptions, highlighting the true benefits of your service, or even quickly describing your offer.

Let's dive in...

Interested in more great content on copywriting? Check out my Copywriting Resource Hub where you'll find in-depth guides, interesting case studies, and practical resources that will help you boost your conversions and sell more, without being salesy or aggressive.


Bullet formula #1: The Number Bullet

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'


Says the timeless saying - and it's absolutely right. Number bullets are the golden standard when it comes to bullets.


Are they overused and boring sometimes? Sure.


But that doesn't mean they don't work... They do, and coincidentally, they're also the easiest to use: all you have to do is add a number before your bullet.


WHY IT WORKS: Our brains have evolved to identify numbers very quickly (both visually and semantically), and a numbered list immediately shows something concrete and tangible.


Here are a few examples:

  • 5 simple steps to make more money online
  • The 3 words that guarantee a romantic evening (and no, they're not 'I love you')
  • 7 time-saving tips to get more done in less time, even if you're feeling overwhelmed
  • My proven 9-step formula to leave your 9-5 behind and start a flourishing online business
  • The 1 thing you must say to a girl at the end of your date to guarantee another one

Ever wondered why virtually every sales page you see has at least a few number bullets?


It's because they work. And they inherently create curiosity.


No wonder gossip, fashion, fake news, or similar sites abuse number bullets to death.


People can't stop clicking on them...


Use a number bullet formula when you want to keep things nice and simple, without going into more advanced copywriting techniques.


Just make sure your bullet list isn't made up entirely of these.


Bonus tip: use odd numbers because they seem to work better than even numbers. A recent study from the UX Collective found that: 


"Even numbers feel more homely, friendly and must be used at all times when seeking attention is not the primary objective. Whenever we need focus on a subject and demand the user's attention, try using odd sequence numbers."


Furthermore, they ran a survey with 185 people, asking them to choose their 'most liked number' and 49% of people chose the number 7.


Interesting! The number 7 seems more special compared to other numbers and has an established presence across the world. Just think about it:


Religion: 7 days to create the earth, the 7 deadly sins, 7 heavens, etc.


Nature: 7 colors in the rainbow, 7 continents, 7 wonders of the world


Folklore: 7 dwarves, 7-headed dragon, 7 pillars


And yes, even Marketing: Jack Daniels No.7, 7-Up, 7 Stars.


Bullet formula #2: The How-to Bullet

Another timeless bullet formula.


People just LOVE how-to bullets... heck, they love anything that's 'how-to'!


Just think back to the last time you searched something on Google...


Chances are, it was something like 'How to do X', 'How to fix Y', 'How to make sure Z'.


Literally every website that's based on content sharing or content marketing is made up mostly of How-to bullets.


WHY IT WORKS: People always want to learn faster, easier, cheaper, with less effort, and in more productive ways to get what they want. We don't have time to go running around the bush...


We want to discover something NOW!


This is exactly why I named the following post "How to write faster, better, and with less effort using these 7 free tools". It includes both the "how to" element + the number 7 in one bullet formula.


And here's another example of one of my videos that uses a slightly tweaked version:

As you can see, How-to bullets are great at conveying easily understandable benefits.


However, this doesn't necessarily mean that you MUST use 'how to' verbatim. You can also use an expression that means basically the same thing.


Check out a few concrete examples:

  • How to win friends and influence people
  • A new way to lose 30 pounds without cutting sweets from your diet
  • The little known secret to getting 5 new clients a month who are happy to pay whatever you ask them
  • When you want to make more sales, here's how to do it without spending more on Facebook ads.
  • What top copywriters do when they write a new high-converting sales page

Notice how - although phrased differently - each of these bullets does pretty much the same thing: it allows you to do something faster, easier, cheaper, and with less effort.


And everybody wants that!


So if you're brainstorming a bullet list for your product or service, you can't go wrong with a few 'how-to' bullets. Simply use 1-2 cases verbatim, and then re-phrase it several more times.


Bullet formula #3: The Warning Bullet

You also see this bullet type everywhere.


Mainly because fear-based marketing is extremely powerful (unfortunately, many people abuse this).


While it's okay to use a warning bullet formula responsibly, please don't overdo it and rely on it too much.


You'll just dilute your credibility and your brand, and people will eventually see you as scammy.


However... that doesn't mean you should never use it.


Far from it.


There's a reason why pretty much every single sales letter implements various types of warning bullets in at least a few places.


WHY IT WORKS: because people are always looking for 'expert opinion', and they're willing to listen to others who have been in the trenches before. When people see you as an authority, or as their protector, they're more willing to trust you.


Not only that but you can also position yourself as a 'cautionary authority' with this.


Someone who can offer valid information (either in your product or service) to people that they can use to protect themselves.


Examples:

  • What NEVER to say to a guy on the first date (ignore this and you'll never hear from him again)
  • The #1 mistake to avoid when creating a high-converting email campaign
  • Warning! Before you hire a freelance copywriter, ask yourself these 3 questions
  • What industry insiders don't tell you: how to avoid extra fees with your insurance
  • How too much working out can actually hurt your muscle gain (95% of people don't know this)

These bullets inherently create curiosity.


   'What's the #1 mistake to avoid? I have to know..."


   'What do you mean working out too much can actually DIMINISH my gains?!'


   'Omg, have I been saying the thing he's talking about on my first date up until now?'


These are all thoughts your reader is probably thinking - and if that's the case, that's GOOD!


Remember, you always want to inject your own voice into the conversation that's already happening inside your reader's mind! 


Do that and you're already halfway through the selling process 🙂 


And if you're looking to sell more with a written sales page, here's a great article with 9 advanced sales page optimization tips that can help you easily boost your conversion rates by at least 20-30% quickly.


Bullet formula #4: The Shocking News Bullet

No doubt you've seen this before as well.


And let me tell you something... 


This bullet formula has kind of a bad rep - mainly because it's regularly used and abused by all "dem scammy Clickbank sellers" advertising miracle cures, magic pills, and wonder solutions.


'The amazing new discovery from China allows you to lose 50 pounds in just 2 weeks without any effort!...'


Yeah, right... there IS no such thing as a magic pill, okay? (*sigh*)


So does this mean that these types of promises should never be used by you?


Fortunately, no.


You see, the main problem with 'shocking news bullets' is that bad marketers had built up a natural resistance in people...


They promised the stars... yet fell flat when it came to delivering actual results.


So naturally, people are quite skeptical.


BUT, if you manage to nail the sweet spot of what I call the Shocking news to tangible benefits conundrum...


(jeeez, the things I come up with!) 


You're still good.


And it's worth it because shocking news bullets are excellent at grabbing attention. HARD.


In fact, they're so powerful that even after countless disappointments, people STILL believe them...


They often think: 'Okay, I know I was fooled the last 5 times, but NOW'S DIFFERENT. I can feel it!'


This is a double-edged sword - real people can get hurt with this, so please only use it ethically and responsibly.


Seriously.


WHY IT WORKS: it's one of the strongest curiosity activators. You have information or use of a new invention that will drive people crazy to find out more about it. The possibility of a better future with something 'amazing' is just too much...


Here are a few examples:

  • The amazing new discovery that rewrites history as we know it
  • A recently revealed method that can cut the time it takes to bench 250 pounds in half
  • What top pros do when they want to make sure their Facebook ads campaign will generate at least a 300% ROI
  • The revolutionary new supplement that all the doctors have spent millions of dollars trying to keep a lid on!​​​​​
  • A new way of selling online courses without spending a dime on ads to get traffic

Now, you can supercharge the effectiveness of any shocking news bullet by hinting at something in the most dramatic and enticing way possible...


...but be extra careful not to overhype this information.


Remember that people are wary of these, and make sure you can at least deliver, or even better, overdeliver on your shocking-news promise.


If you promise miracles, deliver miracles. 


And hey, miracles DO happen sometimes... but you should only hype them if you know for a fact you can create one.


Bullet formula #5: The Secret Bullet

Eeeeverybody loves secrets.

Heck, there's a reason why one of the fastest selling esoteric books of all time is called The Secret.


The possibility of discovering a well-kept secret simply flips a switch in our brains that makes us go 'ga-ga' to find out this secret immediately.


WHY IT WORKS: We can't really help it, it's baked right into our evolution: curiosity - people are intrinsically motivated to discover things. Just look at children.


Just as with the 'warning bullet', whether you're considered an expert or not plays a huge role in how interesting your 'secret' will seem like:


If you're perceived as an 'insider', people WILL listen to your secrets.


In fact, according to a lot of A-list copywriters, many people are paranoid and believe that vital secrets have been withheld from them...


By the government, by corporations, by successful people, and so on.


Whether this is true or not is irrelevant.


People seem to believe it. And if you want to get their attention, you can use this too. 


All you have to do is to hint at some benefit of your product or service that “civilians” outside your business don’t know about… that will deliver an important benefit to them.


This will make your readers even more interested because people are also insatiably curious about new, 'insider' information that affects their self-interest.


Here are a few examples:

  • The secret to losing weight without cutting out carbs from your diet
  • Secrets of the world's highest earning sales letter revealed (why it works so well and how you can replicate its success)
  • A secret method for turning any girl from 'not interested' to super excited
  • The dirty little secret that stockbrokers  don't want you to know about​​​​
  • The secret reason that email marketing is more profitable than anything else

You might discover a few similarities with 'shocking news' bullets, and you're absolutely right - they often activate the same motives but do it in a slightly different way.


So the same warning also applies here: don't overdo this because people WILL get tired of it eventually.


If you promise a secret, give them a revelation that's truly enlightening.


Bullet formula #6: The Great Benefit Bullet

Bullets are all about benefits in the first place, so why not go all in with a 'Great benefit' bullet formula?


So far, we've talked about stimulating curiosity, revealing secrets, and even heralding in shocking new revelations.


Now it's time to go all in and include a few bullets that create MASSIVE perceived value for the reader - promising them their deepest desires.


There's a part in every sales message that has to build desire for whatever you're selling.


'Great benefit' bullets do just that.


WHY IT WORKS: they take a small part, action, or positive effect associated with using your product or service, and highlight its life-changing benefits before the reader. In other words, they bring the 'biggest bang for the buck' benefit of your product center stage.


If you're using long-form sales pages (you should), these are the traditional value-building bullets that make up most of the list of benefits.


Let's see a few of them in action:

  • A single word that, when mentioned in your email's subject line, will mesmerize your subscribers so that they'll have no chance but to open it immediately
  • How a simple little online tool that costs less than $5/month can increase your traffic by 67% almost overnight
  • A little-known selling technique that will increase the AOV of your customers by 30%!​​​​
  • In less than ten minutes, you'll stop getting 'tourist' prices when you're shopping on your vacation... and start getting offered 'natives-only' REAL bargains
  • A tiny little computer code you can paste on your website in just 5 minutes that can literally DOUBLE your conversions overnight!

Or here's another: 9 Actionable Landing Page Tips that Work Wonders in 2020.


You can do this over and over again.


For example, if you're selling an online course, you can write a list of 10 bullets for each module, describing the most powerful specific benefits (not features).


You can easily use 5-6 Great benefit bullets, and split the rest between previous types shown before.


Bullet formula #7: The USP Bullet

USP stands for 'Unique Selling Proposition', and you product or service should definitely have one because it's your main differentiator.


A good USP can make or break an entire product.


Without it, your product is just one in a million. But with it, you're offering something very unique that people have a hard time comparing to your competition.


For example, the USP of my Rainmaker Email Mastery course is: 


The easiest ‘no-nonsense’ system to confidently & consistently Sell More with Emails - using my Elegant Persuasion Framework


Its main differentiator is that:


   1) It's dead simple to apply

   2) It gives you a profitable end result

   3) It uses a proprietary framework


In other words, this is something unique.


Feel free to check out the bullets I wrote for Rainmaker Email Mastery by clicking on the link above. You'll find tons of great bullet examples that you can even swipe.


WHY IT WORKS: because if you're product is truly valuable, it probably has something that's not available anywhere else (or not at this price). Highlighting this exclusivity will certainly increase the attractiveness of your offer. 


Here are a few examples:

  • The only phone that has the fingerprint sensor built right into the screen
  • People call this the 'best' seafood restaurant in town because every top chef is crazy over it 
  • This unique, patented formula completely eliminates every type of stain you can think of with only a single application
  • Why people in New York and San Francisco pay up to 300% of suggested list price for our cars 
  • The easiest way to get twice as many qualified leads per month, without spending a dime on ads, content marketing, or expensive SEO hacks 

As you can see, most of these bullets create an aura of exclusivity, premium quality, and uniqueness. 


This is good because people want what they can't have, and you can very easily stimulate their greed motivators.


However, be sure that this exclusiveness means something to your reader.


You have to know their pains, fears, hopes, and dreams to come up with differentiators that make them say 'Wow, that's just what I've been looking for'.


Some people want speed, while others want easiness. Some crave simplicity, while others desire complexity.


It's your job to find this out with proper customer research.


Also, it's generally a good idea to take the necessary time to explain why your differentiator is so important, and how it results in extra value for your prospect.

CONCLUSION


Unlike headlines, bullets DO have universally replicable formulas.


And in this article, I showed you 7 proven bullet formulas that have been tested over decades, and consistently convert well in any industry, for any product.


Best of all, you can re-use the same bullet formulas for your own business, with minimal effort.

​​

Use them for desire-building product descriptions, highlighting the true benefits of your service, or even quickly describing your offer.


It's one of the easiest ways to add immediate value to your sales page or product page, and it takes very little time to implement.


So go do it.


As a recap, here are the 7 proven bullet formulas once more:

  • The Number Bullet
  • The How-to Bullet
  • The Warning Bullet
  • The Shocking News Bullet
  • The Secret Bullet
  • The Great Benefit Bullet
  • The USP Bullet
bullet formulas copywriting

Interested in more great content on copywriting? Check out my Copywriting Resource Hub where you'll find in-depth guides, interesting case studies, and practical resources that will help you boost your conversions and sell more, without being salesy or aggressive.

About the Author Csaba Borzasi

Csaba Borzási is the founder of Game of Conversions. After spending 10 years learning the ins and outs of persuasion psychology, Csaba now focuses on what he loves most: helping ambitious entrepreneurs grow their online business and get more profitable customers. When he isn't geeking out on discovering how the human mind works, you can probably find him climbing a mountain, dancing salsa, or traveling around the globe.

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