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Thread: AIDA - The Copywriter's ABCs
Feb 2, 2008, 08:58 #1
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AIDA - The Copywriter's ABCs
Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. If you're starting with the ABC's of copywriting, there's no better way to start than the AIDA formula.
A is for Attention
Attention is easy, but not all attention-getting works for direct response copywriting. Contrary to popular opinion, few copywriters consider themselves either clever, creative, or entertaining. Here's the problem...
A company ran an ad with the headline "A Submarine That Can Fly?!" The very next sentence was "Well, we don't actually have a flying sub, but..."
Good attention getting. But it's the copywriting equivalent of the animated GIF. The reader feels tricked and betrayed for paying attention. Good copywriters know Attention must lead to Interest.
That means your headline must get a suspect to "raise their hand," identify themselves, and keep reading. Your headline's real job is to get the attention of likely potential customers and have them read your opening paragraph.
You can show someone doing a backflip to gain attention. However, you must immediately explain the backflip demonstrates the way you tailor clothes keeps keys, money and delicate electronics from flying every whichway, no matter what you do in the course of a day.
Only then can you go from attention to the next stage of the AIDA forumla.
I is for Interest
You've see the way most company websites have "I" problems. Or they "We we" on their customers by never taking focus off their own self interest.
So no matter how well they start off, the reader quickly loses interest. It's not simply a matter of scattering "you" throughout the text -- we're not keyword stuffing here. Shift mental perspective to "the point of you."
A little copywriter's editing technique is to ask "So what?" After every claim or paragraph, just ask yourself "So what's in it for me?" Asking this question goes to the point of you-centered copy rather than employing a cheap trick.
Let's take an example. Here's something from an About Us page, "We pride ourselves on providing ongoing support, training and consultation."
And the so what's in it for me makeover: "You will be given an intensive three tier support and Microsoft certified training. When you become a customer, you're supported in three ways nobody else in the industry offers..."
One is generic "me too" copy from a company talking to itself, about itself. The other serves self interest through demonstration of an interest in you. Surprisingly enough, About Us pages are copy. The sale you're trying to make is that the company is worth doing business with.
D is for Desire
Once the reader determines an offer is interesting, they have to decide just how much they desire to buy. Your job as a copywriter is to build on the foundation you've developed to fan the smoldering embers of interest into a flame of desire.
I can guess what you're thinking. Desire is unfathomable and subjective, far beyond the ability of mortals to understand or influence.
Wow, that's pretty harsh -- but understandable.
Try a little thought experiment. Let's start with a service: Tree removal. The first situation is a fallen tree, sitting on your lawn. What's your "desire level" for hiring a tree removal company and what do you imagine you're willing to pay?
Now imagine the same fallen tree -- leaning against the roof and wall of your house.
Given these two situations, which makes the tree removal service, and expertise in tree removal, more desirable? ...For you ...for the guy or gal down the street? ....for a target reader in another country you've never visited?
Copywriters understand desirability. They understand everybody talks about prevention, and yet cure is more desirable than prevention.
Desire can not be created by the copywriter. However, the preexisting desires and desirability can be focussed onto a product. Copy, products and services can be edited and repositioned to have a better 'emotional drag coefficient.'
Nobody owns "brine shimp" as a pet. Lots of kids remember "Sea Monkeys." ...Have you ever bought a Chinese gooseberry? Not many did, until they were repositioned as Kiwi Fruit.
Nobody wants to buy any product, but rather desires the benefits the product will produce. Copywriters know whenever you're talking about product you're talking about features. All the time. Every time. You're only talking about benefits when you're writing about use (as in users and their objectives).
One of the biggest features versus benefits mistake: Price.
Price is what something costs. Value is what you get for your money. That low cost airline ticket is only a bargain if you arrive at your destination on time and unannoyed. A missing insight putting the airline industry through a world of hurt.
Just like airlines, too many businesses on the web aren't selling products or services -- they've put themselves in the business of selling discounts.
A - the second a -- is for Action
At this point, you're copy has greased the skids for the reader. All they need do is take the action of buying.
It is usually here you'll find the guarantee and "call to action." Which action you call for depends on the purpose of the copy. You may want leads, sales, subscriptions to a newsletter. The point is to ask for the action you want the reader to take.
The guarantee can be just as big a challenge as any other part of copy. Imaginative guarantees and innovation here count for increasing sales. Resist the impulse to do industry standard boilerplate, no matter what you offer.
Have you heard about Terra Bite Lounge in Kirkland, WA? It’s a coffee shop that sells coffee drinks, pastries, and sandwiches based entirely on the honor system. Yep, there are no prices for anything Terra Bite Lounge serves customers. The expectation is that customers will voluntarily pay whatever amount they feel comfortable paying.
-- An Experiment in Coffee Honesty
A classic in the copywriting field is "Hot, fresh pizza delivered to your doorstep in 30 minutes or it's free." These value propositions work because they throw a wave of panic through the lethargic, lazy status quo of an industry.
And there you have the ABCs of copywriting.
The Brand Autopsy Discount Detox Center Most companies aren't selling products or services, they're selling discounts and going out of business because of it.
Forget A.I.D.A.—Think M.A.G.I.C. Magnetize, Attack, Generate, Interest, Closure.
Feb 2, 2008, 20:39 #2
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