It’s one of marketing’s oldest formulas. And the copywriter’s best friend.

Some have pronounced it dead. Others have altered it. And yet – in its basic form – it’s still one of the most effective marketing tools in your box.

What is AIDA?

Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.

It’s an easy, step-by-step formula for writing almost any marketing project. Over the years, it’s saved me from going astray many times.

Let’s say you just landed your first sales letter gig. Where do you start?

Demand Their Attention

Gaining attention in today’s media-soaked environment is never easy. The key is knowledge; knowing what makes your audience tick – their pain points, desires and values. It’s a place for drama, mystery, tough questions or bold promises.

You only get one chance, so get it right.

Get Their Interest

OK, you’ve got their attention. How do you keep it?

Simple – you deliver on whatever you used to gain their attention. Tell them how your product or service offers them what they want. And do it quickly.

Create Desire

Your job now is to build a strong desire for your product or service. You already told them how your product can help.

Now you need to make it irresistible. Paint a picture of success. Tell a story. Use real-life examples.

But be realistic. Lie or exaggerate, and you’ll blow the deal.

Make it good. But make it real.

Ask for Action

Is the call to action the most-overlooked element of marketing? I’d say yes.

After you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting your reader’s attention, building interest and creating desire, you absolutely must tell your reader what to do.

If you already made a strong offer, then amplify it here. Or direct your reader to the next step.

Whatever you do, do it well. This is the point where all your hard work pays off, and simply penning a throwaway like “call or visit today” isn’t good enough.

It Works

Dissect almost any direct response appeal (and that includes most online marketing), and you’ll see AIDA in action. The order might be altered, and some tack on new elements (like Satisfaction), but the basics are the same.

Give Me an “E”

Given how hard it is to acquire a customer in today’s message-rich world – and the growth of interactive online communities – I’d suggest it’s time to tack an “E” onto AIDA. What’s the E? Engagement.

You work hard to sell a widget. Why not leverage that work to sell a lifetime of widgets? The mechanism would vary. Perhaps your call to action (or the fulfillment) includes a visit to your client’s blog.

AIDAE? Perhaps the next evolution of AIDA. And the subject of another post.

In the meantime, use AIDA. It’s a proven performer. It offers you a foundation for your marketing efforts. And it functions as a useful checklist, so you don’t write that sales letter and in a rush of enthusiasm, send it off without a proper call to action.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.

[tags]AIDA, marketing, copywriter, copy, ad, direct response[/tags]