The Four Letter Formula That Can Cure Your Terrible Marketing Results

October 25, 2013 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Are your prospects actually reading those emails and newsletters you’re sending out?

If your written materials don’t follow the AIDA principle, they’re not. In 2012, an average of 10.4% of a small business’s budget was spent on advertising.  Many companies report that regardless of the money they spend on online advertising, their open and click-through rates are dropping.

 

Advertising is the great art form of the 20th century,” Marshal McLuhan once said. When done well, it can inspire and motivate prospective clients and create revenue for you. When done poorly, it’s boring and what’s worse, it doesn’t get read. There’s too much to read these days, and people are much more selective. They’re only going to read what grabs their attention.

 

Use AIDA to make sure your marketing copy makes you money. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. If you want to inspire your prospective customers to action, you first need to grab their attention, get them interested in your product or service, create a desire in them to buy your product or service, and finally move them to action.

 

How do you grab someone’s attention? Use phrases that connect them to their real pain or happiness, and then phrase your opening line to show them how they can avoid that pain or attain that thing they dearly desire. You have to know your prospects in order to do this effectively:

 

  • What are they afraid of?
  • What do they hate?
  • What do they love?
  • What do they want more than anything?

 

Some of the oldest, most iconic advertising campaigns are great examples of AIDA in action, such as the old Uncle Sam “I want YOU!” campaign for the U.S. Army.

 

Attention—Uncle Sam is looking right at YOU, he’s brightly colored, and he’s pointing at you. There’s no way he wasn’t going to get your attention.

 

Interest—The interest element in these posters is a little more subtle. The poster keeps your interest by varying the size and color of the text and breaking up the lines in a way that keeps your eyes moving through the whole text. Also, Uncle Sam is detailed enough that it keeps your eyes looking over the poster; you don’t catch it all in a single glance so your eyes look longer.

 

Desire—The desire element is also subtle. Uncle Sam creates desire in the proverbial YOU by telling you that you are what he desires. You are exactly what he wants, so why wouldn’t you enlist? Also, by using patriotic coloring and clothing styles of the (then) upper-class, he’s associating himself and his request with two highly desirable things (patriotism and status), increasing the onlookers’ desire to comply.

 

Action—The action element is the trickiest to identify. The smallest text on the page is “nearest recruiting station”. That text, and presumably the poster’s placement near recruiting stations, provides clear and immediate instruction on what action the prospective enlistees should take.

 

AIDA wasn’t articulated when these posters were originally invented, but part of the reason why the Uncle Sam posters had the cultural impact they had and still work as imagery in advertising is because they did such a great job of grabbing attention, keeping interest, creating desire, and inspiring action. Other iconic ad campaigns that work as great examples of the AIDA principle are The Old Spice Man, Debeers Diamonds’s “A Diamond is Forever”, and Nike’s “Just Do It” campaigns.

 

To apply the AIDA principles to your company’s advertising, you don’t need a flashy poster or a multi-million dollar campaign. You can keep it simple and still include the four parts. Think about your email campaigns from and AIDA perspective:


Attention—This starts in your subject line. Use action words that promise to solve a pain or bring them something they really want. The goal here is to grab ‘em, hit their curiosity button, and get them to actually engage in what you’re saying.[p]

WRONG WAY:

24 HOUR EMERGENCY PLUMBER SERVICE AVAILABLE[p]

RIGHT WAY:

PIPE BURST? BASEMENT FLOODING? DRAINS CLOGGED? DON’T CALL ANYONE BEFORE YOU KNOW ABOUT ABC PLUMBING’S EMERGENCY “30 –MINUTES OR YOUR REPAIR IS FREE” GUARANTEE!


Interest—You keep their interest by providing important, useful, and sometimes startling information right at the beginning of your email. You can do this with quotations, statistics, or compelling stories that illustrate the problem that your products and services solve.[p]

WRONG WAY:

WE’VE BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR 25 YEARS AND WE CARE ABOUT QUALITY AND YOUR SATISFACTION.[p]

RIGHT WAY:

WHEN YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLUMBING ISSUE, GETTING IT HANDLED QUICKLY CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE BY HELPING YOU AVOID HUNDREDS, IF NOT THOUSANDS, IN WATER DAMAGE. TRADITIONAL PLUMBERS SHOW UP WHEN THEY SHOW UP. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THIS CAN COST YOU BIG TIME. BUT, WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS IN A PLUMBING EMERGENCY?


 

Desire—You then build desire by explaining how your company can solve that problem.  AIDA doesn’t have to be a hard sell. Just point out several solutions, one of which your company can provide. You also build desire for your products or services by building trust between you and your prospects, and a hard sell usually doesn’t build trust.[p]

WRONG WAY:

OUR PLUMBERS ARE CERTIFIED AND GO THE EXTRA MILE TO FIX YOUR PROBLEM FAST.[p]

RIGHT WAY:

YOU KNOW THAT GETTING A SKILLED PLUMBER ON SITE QUICKLY REALLY MATTERS, WHICH IS WHY WE’RE THE ONLY PLUMBER WHO OFFERS A “30-MINUTES OR YOUR REPAIR IS FREE” GUARANTEE. WE’LL HAVE A SKILLED PLUMBER TO YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS, 24 HOURS PER DAY, OR THE COST OF THE REPAIR IS FREE.


Action—Make it easy for your prospects to find you by making your contact information highly visible. Give your prospects specific directions, and offer them a coupon or a freebie with a high-perceived value for taking action NOW.  Spell out the next steps for them clearly.[p]

WRONG WAY:

Call for a Service Quote: (555) 321-4444[p]

RIGHT WAY:

CALL THE ONLY PLUMBER WITH AN ON TIME GUARANTEE TO FIX YOUR EMERGENCY PLUMBING PROBLEMS FAST. 10% DISCOUNT FOR FIRST TIME CUSTOMERS.

CALL NOW: 1-888-222-3333  


Change your marketing approach to include the AIDA principle, and you will see greater success. Whether it results in better open and click through rates or more prospects contacting you, AIDA will make your advertising stand out!