Friday, 26 November 2021

Where AIDA came from

The AIDA model is a cornerstone of the marketing toolkit. AIDA is an acronym for four characteristics of marketing: awareness; interest; desire; and action. If we take these four elements one by one, we would explain them as:

  1. Awareness. This is where we seek to create product, service, or brand awareness with our customer. We want them to know we are there.
  2. Interest. Next we aim to start to create a need in the customer for more information. We want our customer to want to know more about product, service, or brand benefits, and to do some more research. This is effectively an information pull strategy.
  3. Desire. This is where our brand, service, or product starts to create an emotional connection with the customer. We aim to move the customer from 'like' to 'want'. 
  4. Action. The want grows so powerful, the customer is spurred to do something about it. That may be baby steps on the path to purchase (such as a live chat with a salesperson, a test-drive, a sampling, or a trial); or it may be purchase. 
Some marketers add a fifth, R, for Retention. This is relationship marketing where we not only think about our purchaser today, but into the future with conversion to evangelists (Godin, 2008). 

AIDA is a useful model: but who is the founder? The development of the model is older than we think, but the 'facts' are murky. Buis (2015, p. 11), suggests that, while "The concept was first mentioned around the 1900’s, however the first link to marketing was theorized by Strong in 1925". So if we seek out Strong, who says: 

”The development of the famous slogan—'attention, interest, desire, action, satisfaction'—illustrates this. In 1898 E. St. Elmo Lewis used the slogan, 'Attract attention, maintain interest, create desire,' in a course he was giving in advertising in Philadelphia. He writes that he obtained the idea from reading the psychology of William James. Later on he added to the formula, 'get action'." (1925, p. 9).

Frankelius (2016) also suggests the staff writer was St. Elmo Lewis:

"A forerunner of AIDA was a three-step model or formula with appeared anonymously in the February 9, 1898 issue of Printers' Ink" (p. 50), saying ”The mission of an advertisement is to sell goods. To do this, it must attract attention [...], contain matter which will interest and convince” (Frankelius, 2016, p. 26, citing Coolsen, 1947, p. 82). 

I have been unable to source Coolsen, so do not know what was actually said.

Dragon (2011) thinks that others have it wrong, and that the founder is actually Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith, who was the editor of Salesmanship magazine in 1904. Dukesmith published the image shown with this post. I have not been able to sight the original magazines, but it is possible.

However, it seems likely that AIDA originated just at the end of the 19th Century, or at the beginning of the 20th. Over a century of service to marketers everywhere.


Sam

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