While in conversation recently with a couple of colleagues, the marketing and sales acronym ‘AIDA’ came up, with mixed levels of awareness as it turned out.
Never heard of it? It stands for Attention-Interest–Desire-Action and has been around since the late 19th century. Coined by one E.St.Elmo Lewis, an early American advertising and sales pioneer, Lewis specifically had in mind advertising. He wrote;
“The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement”
AIDA was subsequently applied to much more than just advertising, even sales teams would use it as a principle of their sales engagement process.
Our conversation moved on to how relevant it was in today’s business world? The concensus was – very.
One of the merits of AIDA is its simplicity and therefore the ease with which it lends itself to different elements of the marketing/sales process.
A little bit of background
A marketing theorist would describe is as a hierarchical model in that it suggests a buyer moves through a sequence of steps before taking action – buying. AIDA has been criticised for its simplicity, for failing to take account of other factors that influence buying behaviour and possibly just for having been around for a while.
However, while most of the subsequent developments introduced additional steps they could be argued to be simply splitting hairs and all followed the basic steps of;
Cognition(Awareness) > Affect (creating a desire, feeling, need) > Behaviour (Action)
While it may not actually represent actual buyer behaviour, indeed several studies found little empirical support for the hierarchical theory, its value is in its use as a simple framework with which to guide your own thinking and development of your marketing and sales engagement. One that can be applied across channels whether they are passive marketing, inter-active marketing or active sales activity.
There is no real ‘right’ place to start but you could begin by just taking each of the 4 elements, considering what each of these could mean to your particular sector, company, product line or even customer.
How does your business attract the attention of new customers? How do you keep the attention of current or past customers? How do you stimulate interest and create desire or preference between you and a competitor? What does Action look like? Is it to engage via social media, sign up to attend a webinar, request a meeting or move straight to placing an order?
How might you apply it in an exhibition environment? How are you going to get people onto your stand, nuture their interest through to Desire and ultimately to Action?
Maybe try using AIDA as a framework to help structure discussions around your business development, marketing or sales strategy. It might not be the most sophisticated model available but the simplest tools are often the most flexible and useful.