If there’s any part of a business that moves with the times, it’s the Marketing department. Modern marketers are a tech savvy bunch, and the marketing toolbox seems to get bigger and more complex every day. But while the tools of the trade might change, the fundamentals remain the same.

For those of us who went to business school, the AIDA model should be an old friend that you return to again and again. If it’s new to you, get ready to take some notes because this is the basis for many of the world’s greatest advertising campaigns and marketing communications. Ignoring it can undermine your entire marketing strategy.

What’s the AIDA model and where does it come from?

The AIDA model is one of the oldest marketing models ever created, and it’s testament to its power that it’s still in use today. The real origins are perhaps lost to us now, but the earliest mention dates back to 1898 and the American businessman and marketing agency founder Elias St. Elmo Lewis.

There are variations, each with pros and cons, but in its basic form AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. These words all form vital elements of persuasive marketing communications. They are a series of stages that gently, yet compellingly, will lead your prospects through the marketing funnel towards making a purchase.

In the most basic sense, it’s a check list that goes something like this:

1. Does your communication have an attention-grabbing headline?

2. Have you provided enough interesting details to back up your headline and support your claims?

3. Have you described the benefits of your product creating a desire for more information?

4. Have you got a clear and compelling call to action?

Every marketing communication needs to have all these elements. It’s a fundamental rule. Imagine you’ve spent thousands of pounds on a marketing campaign. You’ve spent weeks researching and testing different ideas. You’ve hired a graphic designer to create beautiful visuals. Then you send it out into the world and yet you didn’t include a proper headline, contact details or a compelling call to action (CTA).

It sounds obvious, but people forget. When I was starting out in the advertising industry, copywriters would be dismissed on the spot for ignoring these basic rules, so let’s explore each one in a little detail.


We’ve all heard the statistics. The average person is exposed to countless adverts and marketing communications every day, according to Forbes magazine it’s in the region of 4000. That’s a lot of noise to break through. It doesn’t matter how interesting your copy is, or how useful your product, a dull headline will let you down every time. Luckily, there are plenty of examples of good headlines to learn from, just have a look in your email inbox. Ask yourself, which emails do you open and why? Which links are you tempted to click and which do you dismiss without a second look?

If all else fails, try to use power words like: Now, new, latest, discover, announcing…

There are plenty of great resources and tips on how to create brilliant headlines. The worst thing you can do is forget entirely – yes that does happen with surprising frequency.


“Don’t be boring. You cannot bore people into buying your product or service, you can only interest them into making a purchase”. Those are the words of the perhaps the greatest copywriter of all time, British advertising genius David Ogilvy.

Once you’ve got someone’s attention you need to provide precise information points that follow up on the promise of your headline, otherwise you’ve just created clickbait and that is a short-term win.

but a losing strategy in the long term. This is where you build your case. Remember to talk about the benefits of your product, not simply the features.

Time is short. You have just a few seconds to keep that person from clicking delete, or tossing your mailer into the bin. There’s no point in saving the best till last. Start with your most interesting facts or promises and build from there.


At this stage you’ve done most of the hard work. The prospect is interested in what you’ve got to say. If you’ve done your research and you used properly segmented and targeted data you’ll find it a lot easier to get to this stage. That’s because you’ll know who you’re talking to. You should already understand the challenges these people face. You’ll be able to address the industry pain points directly. You should use this information to move the prospect along from “Yes I am interested” to “I want this product”.

Try to work out what possible doubts or objections your reader might have and address each one directly. We’ve already got a deep dive on this topic on our blog, read about it here: Building Messaging Around ‘Business Pains’ in 3 Easy Steps.


Where do you want the prospect to go next? What action do you want them to take? How can they find more information?

Always include a compelling call to action. You’d be amazed at how many copywriters get to the end of their text and forget this vital element. At the very least this should be your contact details, your phone number, or a link to a contact us page on your website.

A good CTA makes it easy for the reader to do what you’re asking of them. Make it clear and direct. You can create a sense of urgency by introducing a promotion with time frame. In many cases, trial and error, or A/B testing, will provide the solution. Create several different options and when you find something that works, stick with it. Above all, don’t be afraid to simply ask for a purchase.

Here at Marketscan, we’ve got more than 40 years’ experience running B2B marketing campaigns based on award winning data, curated by leading experts in the field. Talk to our team of marketing strategists and find out how we can help.

Click here to contact us and take your marketing campaigns to the next level.

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