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Promise Picture Proof Push (4Ps) Copywriting for Cold Email (Templates, Tips)

Promise Picture Proof Push (the 4Ps) formula is a useful, albeit challenging, cold email copywriting strategy.

It requires you to zero in on the absolute best material about your product or service and present it: The best emotional hook, the best benefits and outcomes (not features), the best social proof, and your best call-to-action.

And, ideally, you’re also going to squeeze some relevant personalization in there as well.

As I said, it’s challenging. But if you can pull it off, the 4Ps can produce focused, compelling cold emails that should deliver big results.

You won’t find many examples of 4P cold emails around the internet. Because it’s a complex technique, it’s usually discussed as a theory, not shown in practice.

(For some other techniques, check out my guides to AIDA, PAS, BAB, Star Chain Hook, and Star Story Solution cold email copywriting.)

In this article, I’m going to break down each of the four steps of the Promise Picture Proof Push copywriting technique. I’ll also share a real email I received that used the 4Ps technique and I’ll rework that email to demonstrate a better usage of the framework.

Promise Picture Proof Push: Table of Contents

What Is the Promise Picture Proof Push Copywriting Method?

The Promise Picture Proof Push copywriting technique, also known as the 4Ps, uses a focus on benefits, emotional hooks, hard numbers, and a strong call-to-action to create high-converting sales copy.

The 4Ps appeals to both the emotional and logical parts of a customer’s brain to drive a decision.

The elements of a 4Ps cold email are:

  • The Promise, which is an attention-grabbing big claim. This is the big benefit you’re offering to a prospect that makes them stop and take notice.
  • The Picture, where you help your prospect imagine what their life will be like once the promise has come to be. This is pure storytelling, aiming to evoke an emotional response.
  • The Proof, which are hard numbers or evidence backing up why they should believe you’ll be able to make the promise come true.
  • The Push, which is an aggressive call-to-action.

Wait… I’ve seen the 4Ps go in a different order

Structurally, it is viable to flip the Promise and Picture sections. You may find your email works better if you lead with the Picture, then go into the Promise.

In fact, you’ll find about an even split of people who refer to this copywriting style as the Picture Promise Proof Push technique versus the Promise Picture Proof Push technique.

I generally find for cold email, the Promise section comes first (in particular because cold email subject lines are usually Promises, not Pictures). That’s why I’ve arranged this article in the Picture Promise Proof Push order.

However, you can change the order of those first two sections if you find your email flows better that way.

I strongly advise against changing the order of the Proof and Push sections, though. You really want the hard logic of the Proof coming in the spot where it does, as it will help overcome objections. And the email should end on the Push, as a call-to-action always belongs at the end.

1. Promise: I Recognize Your Problem and Have an Incredible Solution

The Promise section of a 4Ps email has three crucial tasks:

  • It has to be a uniquely enticing hook that gets someone to open and read an email.
  • It has to accurately diagnose the recipient’s pressing problem or pain point and speak to a solution.
  • It has to address the top benefit of the product or service you’re offering.

And it’s got to do all of that with an economy of words as well… so it’s going to take some finessing.

For the 4Ps to work, you’ve got to hit your prospect with something better and more compelling than “Interested in more revenue?” or “Want to get social media followers?”

You’ll need to identify your prospects’ pain point, speak directly to it, and give an eye-popping solution to it.

How personalization fits into the Promise Picture Proof Push copywriting method

There are a few ways personalization fits into the Promise Picture Proof Push copywriting method (you’ll see how I use it in a unique way in my example below).

There’s always the standard mail merge personalization (prospect’s first name, business name, industry, and other biographical data).

But as I’ve been getting at, there’s a deep personalization opportunity here as well: Personalizing around the pain point. The more specifically you can personalize the Promise section around each prospect’s pain, the more effective it will be.

So, for example, rather than saying: “Our marketing services will help you crush your competition”… find the name of the top competitor for each of your recipients and mail merge it in. “Our marketing services will help you crush {Competitor}” is going to trigger a prospect’s brain in a completely different way.

Putting together the Promise portion of a cold email

In this article I’m going to share an actual Promise Picture Proof Push email I received. I’m going to show where it missed the mark and where it got things right. And I’m going to write a new version of the email that employs the framework in a more effective way.

The Promise in the original email I received

Subject: What do your customers really think?

Message: Over 78% of customers walk out because of poor customer experience.


What do your customers really think? About your salespeople? Or how easy it is to find what they’re looking to buy? Surveys don’t tell the whole story.

But mystery shoppers can.

Promise Picture Proof Push - promise sample email

So for the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to ignore the fact that their targeting was comically bad and I don’t work anywhere close to retail. Never have. Well, not since I was 15 and spent the summer working at a mall sporting goods store. If you wanted some Air Max 95s or Rollerblades I was your guy. I’m going to approach this as if they had properly targeted a retail store after all.

The Promise section in this email gets to its point slower and less energetically than it should. It gets there… it could just get there faster and punchier.

Maybe they A/B tested that subject line; as you’ll see in my rewrite, I’m going to try something a lot bolder.

The statistic they use is eye-catching. I’d like to see them personalize it better — then do a better job tying it directly to my store and quickly getting to the mystery shoppers concept.

The Promise is supposed to be a big, bold claim about a benefit and I’m not quite getting that here.

My rewrite

Here’s how I’m going to rewrite this email to better catch the eye of a retail store.

Subject: Why 78% of customers walk out of {StoreName}

Message: {FirstName},

It’s brutal, but yeah, 78% of customers walk out of stores — including {StoreName} — because things go wrong with their experience.

And our team of mystery shoppers are the best in the world at figuring out exactly what those things are.

Promise Picture Proof Push - promise revised email

Instead of going generic with the statistic here, I’m going direct. It’s not “78% of customers walk out of stores” — I’m aiming to catch their eye by saying 78% of customers walk out of their specific store.

That little bit of personalization takes a few extra seconds of time during the prospecting process but should lead to a huge increase in open rates and engagement.

I’ve also tightened up the Promise section here by getting rid of the rhetorical questions and making a bolder claim about the company’s unique sales proposition: Its top-tier mystery shoppers.

My aim with the Promise section here is to get the prospect to open the email because I’ve hooked them emotionally and quite possibly triggered the fear center in their brain.

And I’ve engaged them because I’ve offered a unique and interesting solution to the problem.

2. Picture: Painting the Tableau of a Post-Promise World

The Picture section of a 4Ps email is where you follow through on the vision of the Promise.

You don’t want your recipient to have to use their own imagination to picture a world where they’ve hired you and the Promise has come true. You’re going to spell it out for them. You’re jumping to the end of the story and describing their happy ending.

That’s why the Picture section is centered around pure emotional appeal.

You’re not using facts and figures here. You shouldn’t list the features of your product or service. You’re focused on your customer and their victorious outcome after having made the wise decision to respond to this email in front of them.

So sell it.

Keep your Picture section focused on the real desired outcomes.

For example, if you’re selling social media marketing services, is someone’s real desired outcome to get a ton of social media followers? Yeah… but not really. They want what comes with having a ton of social media followers, from influence to prestige to a voice in their niche to sponsorships. So make sure your Picture is focused properly. As the cliche goes, people don’t buy drill bits, they buy holes.

By the time your prospect has reached the end of the Picture section, they should be excited and ready to hire you. Decisions come from an emotional place, not a rational one (our rational brains try to stop us; that’s where the next portion of this email comes in).

Putting together the Picture portion of a cold email

Here’s the Picture in the email I received, as well as my rewrite.

The Picture in the original email I received

Message: Mystery shoppers go undercover to find out what’s working – and what’s not – in your stores or showrooms. Do sales reps engage customers or keep them waiting? Is the store clean? Is your brand well represented? From staff performance to store appearance to compliance, you’ll get an unfiltered glimpse into your staff and operations. Want to know about your online support or customer service call centers? We’ve got you covered there, too.

Promise Picture Prove Push - picture example email

The Picture section of this cold email falls flat because it’s making the mistake of listing features, not benefits.

The sender is trying to get me to picture the knowledge I can have, but is leaning (once again) on a string of rhetorical questions rather than helping me envision a happy place where I’m basking in the answers.

My rewrite

Imagine finally having real eyes and ears in the store when you aren’t there. Knowing how long customers actually wait. How clean the store really is. Why someone walks through your door then walks out without making a purchase — and how to fix that.

Promise Picture Prove Push - picture example email

I’m painting the picture in a more vivid way here. Rather than asking questions, I’m directly addressing what the store owner most wants to know: What actually happens, candidly, when they’re not around.

And my last sentence caps it off with the ultimate outcome of the whole process: Turning those shoppers who used to leave into shoppers who instead stick around to buy.

What I’ve done here is clearly spelled out the ideal benefits and outcomes of the mystery shopper process and demonstrated for the prospect what their future could look like — no imagination required on their part.

And I did it in about half the words of the paragraph in the original email.

3. Proof: Using Numbers and Logic to Back Up the Emotional Appeal and Stave Off Objections

The Proof section of the 4Ps comes at this point because it’s the “moment of truth” in the process.

In the traditional sales funnel, this is the decision moment. The prospect is now highly interested and they have to make a decision. The 4Ps method is following along that same track. You’ve made your emotional appeals to build interest — now the prospect is going to make a decision.

And you’re going to need to overcome what’s likely their biggest objection: Why you?

Even after the excitement of the email, the rational part of their brain will tell them to slow down. It’s a cold email from a stranger. They have no idea if you’re legit or not. Anyone can send a cold email promising the moon.

The Proof section is where you have, essentially, one to two sentences to show them why you’re legit and the right person (or product) for the job.

The Proof can come in the form of:

  • A case study link
  • Social proof
  • Numbers demonstrating your results (which they can verify if needed)
  • Credible testimonials
  • Third-party reviews

If you don’t have any of those, you could try listing your unique methods or qualifications. However, that’s going to make it a lot tougher. This cold email framework really benefits from hard proof; it serves as an excellent counterbalance to the big claims in the Promise and Picture.

Putting together the Proof portion of a cold email

Here is the Proof section of the email I received, as well as my rewritten portion.

The Proof in the original email I received

Message: [REDACTED] mystery shoppers are the best in the business. With extensive training on your brand or store, they’re ready to observe, engage and remember every detail of their experience. You’ll get actionable insights into your customers. So you can make changes to enhance the customer experience, boost sales and leave your competition in the dust.

4ps - proof in sample email

This is not a good Proof section. These are generic claims that anyone could make, so they don’t inspire any confidence.

And the disappointing part is, I went to the company’s website and they have plenty of good social proof there. They have lots of case studies. They have so many case studies they could even customize them based on different industries and business sizes, depending on the prospects.

My rewrite

We’ve helped 2,500+ retailers improve customer experience and boost sales through our mystery shopper programs. Check out this case study on how we helped {RelevantCompany} drive {Stat}: {CaseStudyUrl}

4ps - proof in revised email

I went with two pieces of evidence here in my Proof section.

First I went with a total number of clients to demonstrate aggregate social proof — there are a lot of people who have used the company, meaning they’re vouching for it in a de facto manner.

Second, I link out to a relevant case study. In my Google Sheet, I would add a handful of relevant companies, stats, and case study URLs. So when the Google Sheets mail merge fills in my emails, this might look like:

Check out this case study on how we helped Southwest Cable drive 157% YoY revenue growth: https://ourcompany.com/case-studies/southwest-cable

I’m not too worried about adding a link into my cold email here. I’m going to use click tracking in my email (with a custom tracking domain with SSL to improve deliverability) and keep an eye on who clicks the link.

Then, with GMass, I can always easily send another segmented campaign in the future to everyone who clicked but didn’t reply. I know those folks were interested enough to click, but for whatever reason, they didn’t come back to the email to reply. So a new campaign could nudge them to do so.

With my Proof section here, I’ve used two types of hard numbers to give myself the best possible chance to secure the lead.

By sharing my large client base, I’m providing lots of social proof and the security of the masses. And by sharing the case study which showcases a strong result from a single, similar client to the prospect, I’m enabling them to further envision what their outcomes might look like by working with me.

4. Push: The Call-to-Action to Close the Deal

It’s time for the close, and that’s the Push section of the 4Ps email.

You’re going to make your strongest appeal here to try to get the prospect to take the next step (reply, schedule a meeting, book a demo).

There’s a reason this stage is called “Push” and not a milder “P” word like “Pitch” or “Plead.”

Since the 4Ps framework is a fairly aggressive approach to cold email, it usually concludes with an equally aggressive call-to-action. You’re looking to turn this email into action, not into a “let me know if you have any questions” situation.

If you have a deal you can offer — especially one with urgency (limited time offer) or scarcity (limited quantity offer) — this is a good time to use it.

A strong offer is generally a tonal match to a 4Ps email, so don’t be afraid to use it.

Putting together the Push portion of a cold email

Here’s the Push section from the sample email I received, plus the Push section as I reworked it.

The Push in the original email I received

Want us to design a custom mystery shopping program for your brand of store? Let’s talk. Schedule a meeting here.

4ps - push in sample email

This is a fine Push. It’s not great, it’s not terrible. It’s completely and totally fine.

They’re not making me a special offer, but they’re also not muddling the call-to-action. It’s clear what action they want me to take and what I need to do to take that action.

Am I inspired to do so at the end of the email? Not really. But this section in and of itself isn’t a total teardown like some of the rest.

My rewrite

Ready for a custom mystery shopping program for {StoreName}? Let’s talk. Grab a time here. (We’re booking for June now!)

4ps - push in reworked email

I didn’t want to reinvent their wheel, but I did make a few changes.

One, I added in the personalization by bringing in the store’s name, I felt like it couldn’t hurt. I changed the language of “Schedule a meeting” to the more appealing “Grab a time.”

And to create a light hint of scarcity, I mentioned that we were booking for June now. I’m sending this at the beginning of May, so I’m sending the signal that we’re available but not too available.

I could’ve gone a few other directions here, like offering a deal that expires on Friday or saying I only had five spots left for June. I felt those attempts at urgency/scarcity both looked less credible than the language I went with.

Promise Picture Proof Push Copywriting for Cold Email: Takeaways and Next Steps

The Promise Picture Proof Push copywriting method is a bold cold email technique that focuses on benefits, outcomes, and hard numbers to drive quick action.

It requires strategic personalization and a deep understanding of both your prospects’ pain and your offer’s benefits to work.

But when you get all of that right, it can be an extremely effective structure for your email sales copy.

To review, the elements of of Promise Picture Proof Push are:

  • The Promise. The big claim you’re making — the unique solution you have for the customer’s problem.
  • The Picture. Vividly showing the customer how wonderful their world will be after they’ve hired you and implemented your solution.
  • The Proof. Hard proof of why they should hire you. Case studies, numbers, and testimonials are the best options here.
  • The Push. A strong call-to-action to drive the prospect to take the next step with you, whether that’s scheduling a meeting, booking a demo, or otherwise moving forward in the process.

Now… in all the articles I write about cold email copywriting techniques, I always end the same way. I use the copywriting method from the article to explain why you should use GMass as your cold email platform.

It gives you another example of the method in action while I plug. Win-win!

So let’s do it. Here’s my Promise Picture Proof Push promo for why you should use GMass as the platform to send your Promise Picture Proof Push cold emails (and all your other cold emails, marketing emails, and mail merge emails as well) in the future.

Some cold email platforms are easy to use. Some have lots of features. Some have high deliverability. Some are cost effective.

Only one cold platform is all of those things.

Welcome to GMass.

Imagine switching email platforms with no learning curve — because your new platform works directly inside Gmail. Imagine every feature you need, right at your fingertips and totally intuitive. Imagine incredible deliverability, hitting inbox after inbox reliably and without trouble. Imagine doing it all for less than you’re paying for your bloated software right now.

Imagine all the time you’ll save. Imagine all the leads. Imagine all the sales.

There’s a reason GMass has 300,000+ active users who’ve given it an untouchable 4.8-star average across 7,500+ reviews in the Chrome Web Store. And why 99% of users report the best deliverability they’ve ever had.

You can try out GMass free — no credit card required, you don’t even need to fill out a form. You’ll be up and running in a matter of minutes (check out our quickstart guide to get rolling) and you can use GMass free to send up to 50 emails a day during your free trial.

Ready to send your first Promise Picture Proof Push email in the next, say, 15 minutes? Head to the Chrome Web Store, download the GMass Chrome extension, and get rolling.

Ready to transform Gmail into an email marketing/cold email/mail merge tool?

Only GMass packs every email app into one tool — and brings it all into Gmail for you. Better emails. Tons of power. Easy to use.


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