AIDA: How to sell your stuff
How can a marketing model invented more than a century ago be relevant for today’s consumer? Because it’s based on something that never changes: human behaviour. Comma Chameleon looks at how small businesses can harness the ever-lasting power of the AIDA marketing model…
The proven marketing model
Convincing somebody to buy from you isn’t a one-step process. You can’t just tell them what you’re selling and expect them to buy. Nobody is going to hand over their hard-earned cash to a brand they don’t know and trust. Nobody will buy a product they don’t care about. And nobody is going to order a service if they don’t know what they’re getting. If you’re a small business with a product or service to sell, you need to be harnessing the AIDA principles.
The AIDA marketing model is perhaps the best known and most proven of all the classic models. It’s based on the idea that there is a certain cognitive process every buyer goes through before committing to a purchase – basically, that all humans think, feel, react and behave in a similar way when exposed to certain stimulus. AIDA channels these accepted behaviours into a standardised marketing funnel aimed at leading people on a journey from discovery to purchase. It’s such a well-known model – and arguably so common-sense – that you might already be using it, even if you don’t know you are.
If you’re not, and you’re a small business with a product or service to sell, you really ought to be.
What does AIDA stand for?
The AIDA acronym can be broken down as follows:
Attention: Capturing the attention of your prospective buyer and creating brand awareness, or affiliation with your product or service.
Interest: Generating interest in your product or service by highlighting the benefits.
Desire: Inspiring a desire for your product or service by building an emotional connection with the potential buyer.
Action: Moving the buyer into interacting with your company and taking the next step in their journey, i.e. buying the product, hitting the ‘download button’, signing up to your newsletter, etc.
[AIDA is] based on the idea that there is a certain cognitive process every buyer goes through before committing to a purchase – basically, that all humans think, feel, react and behave in a similar way when exposed to certain stimulus.
Who invented AIDA?
AIDA is commonly attributed to Elias St. Elmo Lewis, an American ad man who began developing the model in the 1890s. Lewis wrote (sometimes anonymously) for many of the big-name advertising publications and periodicals of the day, expounding on the principles he had found to be most effective throughout his career and suggesting an effective formula for all advertisers to follow. This was essentially, ‘attract attention, maintain interest, create desire’.
His model was tweaked and refined until it became the AIDA model we know today, and was adopted by advertisers, promoters and marketers around the world. It has been consistently producing significant results for all types of businesses and service providers ever since.
Lewis went on to write whole books on the subject and by the time of his death in 1948 was held in such high regard that, in 1951, he was posthumously inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.
Is AIDA still relevant?
You might be wondering how relevant a marketing model from the late-19th century can be, given how very different the world we live in today is. The truth is, it’s still incredibly relevant, and still massively effective. Because at its very heart, AIDA is built on foundations relating to intrinsic human behaviour – the things that trigger us, the things that matter to us, and the things we care about. Because if anything in this world exists outside of time and space, it’s human behaviour. In the same way that we will always crave safety for our families and feel compelled to build a life within a community, so we will always seek an emotional connection when we are being asked to part with something we value.
In the same way that we will always crave safety for our families and feel compelled to build a life within a community, so we will always seek an emotional connection when we are being asked to part with something we value
So whether you’re peddling your side-hustle in macramé or selling your services as a digital artist, you can harness the power of AIDA to make better connections with potential customers and drive people to buy from you.
Where does AIDA work?
The good thing about AIDA, particularly for small businesses and start-ups with limited advertising budgets, is that you can use it anywhere and you can do it for free. Gone are the days when marketing was the preserve of big businesses with money to spend on billboards and TV ads. These days, anyone with a laptop and a Facebook account can be a marketer, and anybody can use the AIDA model. You can apply it to your social media content, your blog posts and your website copy. You can have it running through your product descriptions or service information. And you can use it in your email newsletters or promotions, because it will work just as well in those free-to-implement spheres as it will across any paid social, radio and TV ads.
The good thing about AIDA, particularly for small businesses and start-ups with limited advertising budgets, is that you can use it anywhere and you can do it for free
Let’s take a closer look at how you can use the AIDA model in your own marketing…
This stage of the model is all about creating brand awareness. It’s about getting your name out there and making sure people know exactly who you are and what you do.
Of course, there’s a huge difference between getting your name out there to the wrong people and getting the attention of the people who might actually want to buy from you, so you need to make sure you’re marketing in the right space. Find out where your ideal customer hangs out. Find out when they’re online and which social platform they prefer. Find out what they care about, what keeps them up at night, and what’s stopping them from achieving what they want to achieve.
Once you know your ideal client inside out, you can tailor your marketing materials to them in a way that makes them stand up and take notice.
There’s a huge difference between getting your name out there to the wrong people and getting the attention of the people who might actually want to buy from you, so you need to make sure you’re marketing in the right space
If you can create content that does this – that reaches the right people and captures their attention – you’ll be able to steer them towards the next step in the buying journey, which is…
It’s one thing to create a social post that gets a load of likes or shares. It’s quite another to keep that audience engaged, interested, and dying to find out more about you. And they’re never going to do more than hit the ‘Like’ button and carry on scrolling unless you give them a reason to stop and engage.
The most effective way to do this is by telling a story that lets your reader know you understand their problems, that you sympathise, and that you can provide the solution with your product or service.
The key to hitting this step is to make the reader feel like you are talking directly, and only, to them. Without that element of personalisation (imagined though it may be), you’re going to come across as pushy, salesy and uncaring – the exact opposite of what the AIDA model strives for.
Let’s say you are the aforementioned macramé maker. You’ve got a new hanging planter to launch, and you know the people most likely to buy it from you are women aged 30-40 who like a beautiful home filled with natural-looking handicrafts.
You might decide to post in a Facebook group for mums who enjoy yoga. You’d probably want to post a picture of your product, along with a question to hook them in. Something like ‘Are you looking to achieve more harmony in your home?’
The key to hitting this step is to make the reader feel like you are talking directly, and only, to them. Without that element of personalisation (imagined though it may be), you’re going to come across as pushy, salesy and uncaring
This is going to make them stop the scroll, entice them to hit the ‘… See more’ ellipsis, and allow you to lead them to the next stage, which is…
This step in the process is where you show your prospective clients exactly why they need you in their lives. It’s where you’re going to show them how you can solve their problems and make their lives easier, better, or simply more beautiful.
In this phase, you’ll explain the features of your product or service, along with the related benefits. If you offer a service, you could use before and after photos to demonstrate the difference you can make. If you’ve got a product to sell, you could explain the benefits with a customer review or a case study – something that speaks directly to your prospects in a way they will relate to.
Using our macramé side-hustler example above, you’d probably post an image of your planter in a suitably harmonious home setting, alongside a description of the planter that hammers home its natural, hand-made qualities.
‘Are you looking to achieve more harmony in your home?
‘Our new macramé hanging planter is hand-crafted with oodles of love and only the finest natural materials to bring peace to any room.
‘Whether you need a home for your favourite succulent or want to soften a corner with some trailing greenery, our planter will help you achieve the look you want with its delicate detailing and stunning design.
‘Built to last with the finest natural thread and sustainably-sourced beads…’
You get the picture.
This step in the process is where you show your prospective clients exactly why they need you in their lives. It’s where you’re going to show them how you can solve their problems and make their lives easier, better, or simply more beautiful
Have fun with it, knowing that if you nail it, your prospects are going to be itching to get to the ‘Buy now’ button.
And this, of course, is your desired…
OK, so you’ve got your readers chomping at the bit. Now you need to make it as easy as humanly possible for them to take the action you want them to. They’re not going to want to go digging around to find the product you’ve got them so excited about. They will soon give up if you redirect them around your website to find it. We live in an instant-gratification world, and there are simply too many competitors around for you to make your leads do all the work – they will just go elsewhere, to someone who has made things as quick and straightforward as possible.
So if you want to sell a product, include a ‘Buy now’ button that links directly to the individual product on your website. Even better, link to a checkout page, where the product is already in their basket so that all they need to do is pay. If you want your prospects to pick up the phone and make an appointment, include a clickable phone number so that they can do it immediately.
Of course there will always be those people who take the ‘That’s amazing! I’ll buy that later’ decision. And inevitably they never return to make the purchase. To try and persuade these people away from the ‘I’ll do it later’ mindset, you can always try to create a sense of urgency about buying your product. Have a limited-time offer running, whereby they get a percentage off the cost if they buy before a certain date. Offer a freebie to those who make the purchase immediately. There are plenty of little sweeteners you can try to persuade your prospects to take action more quickly.
Make it easy, make it irresistible, and they will come.
… if you want to sell a product, include a ‘Buy now’ button that links directly to the individual product on your website. Even better, link to a checkout page, where the product is already in their basket so that all they need to do is pay
Use it wisely
So there you have it: the basics of the AIDA marketing model. Why not give it a go? We’ve put together a blog on how you can use AIDA effectively in your small business – it’s right here, and it’s filled with handy prompts and tips for getting the most from your marketing efforts. Alternatively, you can download our reusable template that will help guide every bit of content you put out, ensuring you hit all the steps in the AIDA model, every time. Grab it here.
Of course, you could just leave it to the pros. Here at Comma Chameleon, we have decades of experience creating content that engages – so whether you need a blog post, a direct mailer, a brochure or a social post, just drop us a line and we’ll get you the copy that will win you the eyeballs. Email us today.
The Comma Chameleon team