Formula

Problem Agitate Solution (PAS)

Use this Play to create both short-form and long-form content including engaging videos, landing pages, and social media captions.
Masooma Memon
January 7, 2022

When to use

Use this Play to empathize and connect with your audience. No matter how short on time or resources you are, this 3-step formula will save your day while helping engage your target audience. Plus, you can package all stories using the PAS framework – be it verbal, written, or video-based stories.

What you’ll need

A thorough product/service demo, your audience profile, a notebook.

You can create this Play on your own as well in collaboration with members of your team who have a deep understanding of the product/service and/or the audience. 

The Steps 

1. Prep work

Begin with understanding the problem your product/service solves. Then, dig into understanding the problem your target audience struggles with.

TipDig deep for the problem your product/service solves.

For example, you may think that your product solves the problem of making to-do lists. But that’s the solution – not the problem. The problem solved then is helping people stay organized, in control of their schedule, therefore, helping them practice work-life balance.

The key to success with the PAS Play is knowing what your audience struggles with and how your product can seamlessly fit into the picture by helping solve that problem.

TipKnow your audience inside out – not just their struggles but their ambitions and what matters to them.

An early-stage startup founder, for example, might not necessarily be invested in work-life balance as the CEO of a mature SaaS company.

Having this information will help you identify which emotions to highlight in your Play.

Do this todayTalk to your target audience. Ask them:
  • What are they looking to achieve in their life
  • What they feel when they struggle with their [target] pain point

2. Outline the problem

Now, work on describing P or the ‘problem.’

The goal? To capture your audience’s pain point as accurately as possible. This way, the opening scene or line (depending on your story format) will instantly capture their attention.

For starters, identify one problem your audience faces and run with it. You can describe three problems at a time as well. But that can dilute your message unless you become a pro at using the PAS Play and can effectively capture all your audience’s problems in one scene/line.

PromptAsk your audience a question about their problem to capture their attention. For example, 'struggling to get things done?'

Create characters that showcase the problem your audience faces so they can see themselves in the story. Grammarly does this best in this video — everyone’s been in Tyler’s shoes so they’d want the same solution.

Introduce not just one but multiple characters in your PAS story structure. This helps you explain your product’s various use cases. Grammarly takes this route in this video.

3. Build on the problem

Next, rub or agitate the problem — the ‘A’ in the formula. 

You don’t want to make fun of your audience’s struggles. Instead, aim to empathize – show you understand them.

Done well, agitating the problem will help your audience relate with you. They’d end up thinking ‘this is exactly what I feel – these folks just get me!

TipStrike an emotional chord by capturing all the feelings your target audience is experiencing as they deal with their pain point. For example, feelings of stress, frustration, and overwhelm due to an out-of-control schedule.
PromptEmpathize with your audience and the problem you have by addressing the emotions they must be feeling.

Take a look at how this landing page clearly outlines the feelings its audience must be feeling: “frustrated, embarrassed, scared of wasting time, and paralyzed by the fear of being stuck.”

4. Provide the solution

Finally, pull out the solution ‘S’ – your product, service, or proposal. Show exactly how it can help your audience get rid of the negative feelings that you introduced in the story’s start.

TipFocus on emotions throughout the Play. People are more likely to take the action you want them if they know it’ll help them feel happy, relieved, accomplished – or any other positive sentiment that your product/solution makes them feel.
PromptTalk about the solution you have to the problem and how your product or service can help.

In a nutshell 

Identify the problem, capture how it makes your audience feel, and present a solution. Simple, isn’t it? 

And while there are several ways to mould the PAS Play such as introducing characters, start with keeping it simple. Try different twists to the formula only after you’ve developed a grip over it.

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS and ecommerce brands writing actionable content for clients like CoSchedule, Vimeo, and Databox. She's also an avid reader and shares content writing and marketing tips in her weekly newsletter, The Content Workshop.

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