Employing the AIDA formula into your writing is the one copywriting tip you’ll really need to ‘get’ in order to survive as a successful freelance writer online.
But what exactly is the AIDA formula and why is it so important? How do you effectively employ it within your writing and when should it be used?
All good questions (thanks for asking). The latter is easily answered: Apply the AIDA formula in (pretty much) every writing project you undertake.
Why? Because in almost everything you write online, you are selling something. It doesn’t have to be a physical product – it could be a service or even an idea or concept – but you’re still asking the reader to take some sort of action that they otherwise wouldn’t have taken.
For the AIDA virgins among us, this neat little acronym stands for:
Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
This formula has been recognised since the beginning of selling (so, time then) as the logical process people go through when making a buying decision.
It’s our job as writers to guide our readers lovingly and unwaveringly through this process.
The good news is – contrary to popular belief among (bad) sales people – this process is rather simple. Successfully persuading a reader to take action is not the result of some mystical voodoo based largely on luck, as some people will have you believe. It’s also not a case of cajoling them into doing something they don’t want to do. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
It is just a simple process that, if applied correctly, will produce the results you (or your writing clients) need.
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How to use this tip: Let’s start from the top
Attention simply means breaking someone’s current preoccupation and getting them to take notice. As writers, words are our only tools. We can either ask a relevant question or present an idea aimed so specifically at the needs of the target reader that they can’t help but put down their smartphones, switch off their iPads and absorb your every word.
That’s why questions are such a good way to grab a reader’s attention – if they want to know the answer, they must read on.
The interest part of the AIDA formula is where you answer your opening question, if you’ve asked one. Even if you haven’t, this is still the part where you present the features of the product, service or idea in a light that holds the reader’s interest. Although this is an important part of the process and cannot be overlooked, interest alone is not enough…
A desire or need must be fulfilled, which means all of the benefits must be explored and explained. Benefits go beyond mere descriptions. Features may get the reader interested but what will keep them interested – and perhaps provoke them to take some sort of action – is the answer to the old-age consumer question:
‘What’s in it for me?’
You must answer the question of what’s in it for the reader/customer. This question needs to be answered clearly and fully. What are the benefits that will cause them to take action? For instance, some of the most common benefits of a product or service are:
- It saves or makes people money
- It’s more convenient than the existing method (it saves time)
- It improves a person’s business or personal prospects
- It makes them feel respected/more popular/current
- It makes them feel safe and secure
All of the above examples are solutions to problems, and your work as a writer is to find out which problem the reader is facing. Then solve that problem in your copy.
The last part of AIDA is referred to by the hard-core sales people of this world as ‘closing the sale’. I prefer to say it’s a ‘call to action’. In simple terms, this is the part where you invite the reader to take action. I know – it sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many writers put huge effort into the other three parts of the process – and then leave this simple bit out.
You must ask the reader to take action and then tell them precisely how.
To be most effective, the AIDA formula should be completed in the above order. You need to grab the reader’s attention first, arouse their interest second, only then connect it to a desire or need… and then ask them to take action.
I find if you jumble the order, the formula rarely works.
Image courtesy of matryosha via Flickr. Text added.