4-Step Effective Marketing

I’m not a big fan of acronyms. Not in marketing communications anyway. I’m sure you raise more money if you call yourself the World Wildlife Fund than just ‘WWF’.

But there is one acronym in marketing theory that’s as good today as it’s always been: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action – ‘AIDA’.

1. Gain the prospect’s Attention with something intriguing or compelling.

2. Raise their Interest with features and benefits.

3. Develop that into Desire by revealing how the product will fulfil a need.

4. Lead them to take Action and make a purchase.

It was originally devised in the 19th century to describe the key stages in an insurance salesman’s sales pitch. Ever since, it’s been a mainstay of marketing practice, even though a marketing programme will often take somewhat longer, months or even years, particularly for big-ticket purchases.

There have been various attempts to improve on it, such as AIDAC (adding ‘Conviction’) AIDAS (adding ‘Satisfaction’) CAB, REAN and others. But AIDA is still the basis of them all, and it still describes as well as ever the steps a prospect goes through before deciding to buy your product.

Which is why it’s such a valuable sequence against which to assess the elements in a marketing communications programme. Each stage requires a tailored message, which may well need to be delivered in a different form, or via a different channel.

The essential thing is to have all four stages covered. A wonderful glossy brochure, designed to convert prospects’ Interest into Desire, is of little use if no-one asks for it because you haven’t yet run an advertising, DM or PR campaign to get their Attention and Interest.

Miss out a stage, or overlook a weak link, and buyers will slip through the gaps like eels negotiating a cattle grid.

Robin Petherbridge