I’ll confess right now: I love the AIDA model. It’s one of those, ‘This is so obvious’ models that it’s easy to dismiss it. Indeed, it frequently gets dismissed and ridiculed. But ignore that criticism. Let me take you through it and help you realise the genius behind its simplicity and, more importantly, how it’s laid the foundation stone for so many other useful marketing models.

AIDA – the nuts and bolts

AIDA is often used to help understand the Buyers’ Journey as they move from ignorance to making a purchase decision.

AIDA Marketing Model

This is a sequential model that basically states that in order to gain an action e.g. purchase or request for information or drive to a website, a prospective customer’s attention has to be gained, then their interest aroused, followed by a strong enough desire to motivate the action.

We all know that, right? It’s pretty obvious you have to get their Attention first, hold their Interest, then help raise the desire for them to take the action you are trying to encourage.

The simple genius of AIDA

  1. It’s timeless.

First, let’s reflect that Lewis coined this model in 1899 before Edward Strong championed it in 1925. 1925. Almost 100 years’ ago! Why is this model still relevant today? Because it is about human behaviour and human behaviour fundamentally hasn’t changed much in the last couple of thousand years. I bet you that Ancient Roman shop keepers and traders practised a form of AIDA (in fact, I’m desperate for evidence of this so if you find it, do send it to me).

Any decent seller of goods or ideas throughout the ages knows that you have to follow this sequence to get the sale / win your pitch / convince the general to march with elephants over the Alps (check out Hannibal of Carthage for this historical fact). People are people. We behave in the same way.

  1. It can be expanded on

AIDA can, and is, expanded on all the time. From P. Kotler in 1959 to B. Thomas (Watertight Marketing, 2020) marketing strategists have used (knowingly or not) AIDA as the basis to create a sequential process for helping us understand how people act / buy, and then related it to the marketing communications and support that we have to provide.

Thomas added in stages like, ‘Evaluation’ to explain how people will suss out their alternatives at this stage. I attended a seminar where a print company based in Cardiff had created their own version of this process to explain why we need printed marketing at each stage. Show AIDA to any salesperson and they’ll see their beloved sales funnel lurking in its depths.

The model is timeless and as our understanding of how people make decisions improves, we can add to it and refine it even further, which means we can be even more precise in what we communicate and when so that we get that desired Action at the end.

  1. Your marketing plan should cover every step 

I see so much marketing that fails to take into account the fact that when we’re making a purchase we do so in a series of steps. This means that we need different communications at each step. Not one big lump of ‘Awareness’ communications to grab attention then that’s it.

  • Attention focuses on creating brand awareness or affiliation with the product or service – so what communication tools and media can be used to drive awareness of the brand?
  • Once an organisation has created attention with the target audience, how can they then engage with them enough to get them interested in the message, brand and proposition?
  • How can the organisation encourage them to conduct further research into the brand?
  • Once attention and interest have been built, the organisation must now create a desire for the brand – this is all about moving the consumer from liking the brand to wanting it. This will involve appealing to their personal wants and needs.
  • Finally, once the organisation has created the desire for the brand, they must then encourage them to complete the desired action, such as buying the brand or donating to the cause or joining the cause. At this stage, the organisation may provide extra incentives to encourage action as well as making the process as easy as possible for the consumer to buy.

Conclusion

The model has its limitations and it is simplistic. However, as a way to begin to structure your understanding about your customers and how to communicate effectively with them, it’s a damned good foundation on which to build.

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This post was written by Kara Stanford is a Strategic Marketing Consultant at KMS Marketing and a tutor with Oxford College of Marketing.

References: Lewis, S E. (1899) Side Talks about Advertising. The Western Druggist. (21 February). p. 66.
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