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You might have heard of AIDA, but like all marketing acronyms, we can be pretty hazy on the details, and how it all applies to, well, us. In today’s episode, I’ll explain this important framework for your customer or client’s journey.

What are the stages? What do they look like? How does it apply to your business? All this, and more, will be revealed. Give me 10 minutes, and I’ll explain… AIDA.

Just click play, and I’ll meet you there.

Transcript & Shownotes

Naomi Explains... AIDA

Welcome back to Naomi Explains Marketing, the show where I help coaches, consultants, experts, authors, and other associated nerds, geeks and misfits sell the contents of their brains for cash money. I am your host, Naomi, and today we’re talking about an oldie but a goodie… AIDA.

Let’s do this.

AIDA is a popular acronym that represents the stages of a customer or client’s journey. The model was developed in 1898 by a guy named E. St. Elmo Lewis in an attempt to explain how personal selling works. The model laid out a sequence that describes the process a salesperson must lead a potential customer through in order to achieve a sale. If you’re a little sad right now that your name isn’t as cool as E. St. Elmo’s, please know you are not alone.

So… let’s take it from the top.

The first A stands for Attention.

The first thing we need to secure is the potential customer or client's eyes and/or ears. If we don’t have their attention, we can’t do anything else.

Let’s say you’re walking down the street, and there’s a sign for a new board game cafe. If you’re in the middle of arguing with your partner, or you’re trying to navigate the map on your phone, or you’re looking for a public restroom. You’re either not going to see the sign, or you’re going to see it but not register it. It’s not going to have your attention. If you don’t see or register the sign, nothing else can happen. So the most important first step is gaining a prospective customer or client’s attention. Without their attention, it doesn’t really matter what else you do, because they won’t know you did it. 

Attention in this context is a very physical thing. It’s sensorial. We see something or we hear something, and we decide to pay attention to it. We focus on it. Our eyes, ears, and thoughts were either on something else, or on nothing in particular, and then something happens and we turn our attention to it. In many cases, the “turn”? It’s literal and physical. So when we capture the prospect’s attention, their eyes or ears are now on us and our thing. So, you see the sign for the board game cafe, you register it, and you pay attention. Great. Now we can move onto the next phase.

The next phase, the I, stands for Interest.

Unfortunately, attention is not enough. If it was, anyone with a chicken suit or a megaphone would be rich. So in our example, I happen to be interested in board games, and so a sign indicating there is a cafe full of board games is interesting to me.

On the other hand, I don’t drive. I don’t have a car. So if you sell car washes, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 cheerleaders in chicken suits AND a guy with a megaphone saying he’ll pay me to get my car washed… no dados. Sure, I’ll notice. Sure, I’ll give it my attention. But I’m not interested, and the flow chart stops here.

For most businesses, interest comes down to establishing and articulating relevance. Relevance is about explaining your particulars – the relevant details that help someone establish if your thing is even remotely their kind of thing. In the brick and mortar world, sometimes that’s location. Sometimes it’s price. Sometimes it’s what hours you’re open. In the coachy-teachy-healy professions, it’s often niche (I help creatives get unstuck) or format (this is an ebook with worksheets). And, yes, price. Always price.

Next up, Desire.

Assuming you have captured their attention and garnered their interest, the prospect moves to the next phase, D, which stands for desire. Cultivating desire is what we tend to think of when we think of marketing. Attention is getting people aware of your thing, interest is, obviously, getting them interested in your thing… well, desire is getting people to want your thing.

We stoke desire in all sorts of ways. We talk up the features and the benefits and the outcomes. We provide proof and social proof. We show pretty pictures of our thing in action. Basically, we do marketing stuff. If we do our job well, our prospective customer or client now desires our thing. Good job, us.

So… I know it exists. I’m interested in it. Hell, now I want the damn thing. What’s the last phase?

The last phase, the second A, is action.

Desire without action is a prospect or a fan. Desire with action is a customer or a client.

To explain this concept to you, I want you to think of something you can afford, and do desire, but have not yet bought. Take a sec and consider some product or service that fits that criteria for you. Clothing, makeup, a new hot tub, a bichon frise. Whatever floats your boat.

My example is Wolford tights in cashmere. I have the fleece lined ones. I have the normal ones. I keep looking at the cashmere ones, and I keep thinking about them, and I keep talking about how I want them, but have I bought them? No, I have not. If they want me to buy their cashmere tights, then thus far, they have failed.

For most businesses, action is the hardest step to spur. Attention, Interest, and Desire cost nothing on the part of the prospect, so they tend to hand those out fairly willy nilly. But action requires them to get off their ass. (It also requires them to spend their money, but that’s usually the easiest part. Spending money is, for most people, far less painful than breaking inertia.)

So, how do we get people to take action?

The three most common ways to spur action are scarcity, urgency, and objection reversal.

If someone had told me they only had two pairs of the cashmere tights left in my size? That’s scarcity, and I can tell you right now, I would have bought both.

If someone had told me they were $20 off until Friday? That’s urgency, and while I can’t say for sure, but I’d say it’s pretty likely I would have gone ahead with the purchase.

If they had some sales copy that addressed my concerns about spending $300 on a pair of freaking pantyhose? Like a one-year no-rip promise or something? That’s objection reversal, and if they’d got it right – reversing my objections, not someone else’s – yeah, I would have done it. (Another form of objection reversal is making a big screaming fuss about how easy it is to buy. It’s reversing the usually unstated objection that “it’s going to be a pain in the ass”.)

So. AIDA. Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It takes prospects from “what the hell even is this?” to “I’ll take two.” Someone who goes through all four phases is officially a customer or a client. Well done.

Now, one more thing I want to clear up before I go.

AIDA applies at both the macro and the micro levels. For us in our line of work, this means that it applies to buying from me at all, period. And it applies to buying this thing from me today.

So, let’s say you’re new to me. This is the first time you’ve heard me speak. Some nice person said, “Hey, you should check out Naomi Explains Marketing” and you had nothing better to do, so you went for it. You’re effectively at the Attention phase on Naomi.

If you listened to the intro of this podcast and you’re like, “Wait a minute! I’m a coach, consultant, expert, author, or other associated nerd, geek or misfit!” then you’re probably at the Interest phase.

If you’re listening and wondering if I offer coaching, or if I have any products or classes, you’re at the Desire phase. And if you stopped listening two minutes ago to send me an email asking for a Hopes and Dreams call, you’re at the Action phase.

Awesome. Thank you, and thanks to whatever kind person sent you here.


Let’s say this is not the first time you’ve heard me speak. In fact, you’re already both a student and a client. But there’s a product in my back catalog that you don’t have. If I want you to buy it, I once again take you through the AIDA stages, this time for this product in particular.

In our line of work, that’s usually accomplished through sending warm traffic to a sales page. I email you saying, “Hey! You! Person who already seems fond of me! I have a product called Passive Income and it might be just your kind of thing.”

You go to the sales page, and we begin. I get and keep your attention. I attract your interest through establishing relevance. I stoke your desire by doing marketing stuff. And I encourage action through scarcity, urgency, or objection reversal. It’s like dancing, but much more lucrative.

With that, I leave you. Until we meet again, take great care of yourself, and know that you are awesome.

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