The other day I was reading the AIDA model of advertising guru St Elmo Lewis when it occurred to me that much of what he says in his theory applies to the market dynamics even today, though it has been over 100 years since he postulated the customer-centric approach in sales. Many of you may not know what AIDA means, so let me start with the expansion of this acronym. AIDA stands for Attention (Awareness), Interest, Desire, and Action. More specifically, Attention refers to the ability to attract the attention of the customer towards a product or service; Interest refers to the ability to trigger a response from the customer by focusing on or demonstrating the advantages and benefits of a certain product or service; Desire refers to the ability to make customers desire a product or service with the promise that it will satisfy his needs; Action refers to the ability to make the customer purchase a product or service. Now, let’s take a look at how each of these sales strategies works in the digital world. Attention: You just have a few seconds to captivate a first time visitor on your website. Unlike advertisements and promotional campaigns in the TV and print media, the digital platform always clicks with those who know how to bring immediacy, relevance, and the promise of durability with their products and services by way of disruption. In the digital medium, a business enterprise does not have the front-end support of a persuasive PR professional or smooth-talking spokesperson to nudge the customer into making a purposeful transaction on your website. You have to create a convincing aura of your business through elegance in brand value with appropriate words, images, and designs. And if you aren’t sure of bringing about disruption in a given market or industry with your unique products and services, you need to have a compelling user-centric story on your website that can hook the customer from every possible angle. After all, the customer only wants to know if you can give him a better deal. At the same time, if you do not have enough to show in your product pipeline, steer clear of the theatrics and stick to what sounds simple and believable. You may straight away start speaking about the benefits of your products and services more than anything. Being clever with banners and headlines is fine as long as you don’t mislead the customer. Don’t try the hook or crook method to draw the attention of the online customer. It doesn’t work. Today, the customer is very informed. He can’t be taken for a ride. So, if you stay humble, stay smart, and stay unique, the customer may stay with you for a few more minutes. Interest: This is the most crucial part for any business engaged in the digital medium. You need to attend to the questions of an inquisitive visitor by structuring the story of your company and its product pipeline around the five ‘Ws’ and one ‘H’ (what, where, who, when, and why, and how). All these details should be weaved together in such a way that the visitor starts looking at his immediate needs with the opening of every link on your website. As I said before, your products and services may or may not have the power to create disruption in the internet marketplace. So, talk about the unique selling proposition (USP) of your products or services with comparative data on usability as well as pricing. The customer shouldn’t feel that he isn’t getting the complete picture of your products and services. Have informative videos and blogs about the exclusivity of your products and services and tell the customer how he stands to gain or benefit if he were to do business with you. Let’s take the example of Apple’s new iPhone devices. The moment you land on www.apple.com, you can view iPhone 5c with the tagline “For the colorful”. This is nothing but benchmarking the product for a certain group of users. And they’ve got the complete iPhone 5c usability story in the clickable links below the colorful image, as shown under. The jquery slide show then moves onto the iPhone 5s series. Again, we have the same clickable links that give out the complete iPhone 5s usability story, with the tagline “Forward thinking”. Isn’t the slide below equally inviting as the earlier one? But isn’t Apple pitting two of its products against each other? No. Apple knows that it has a separate market for both these devices and the ability to cater to a diverse market makes Apple unique in the smartphone market today. The third slide tells us about iOS7, the mobile platform on which both these new devices run. The fourth slide is on iTunes Radio, and the last slide is on the launch event itself. Now, is there anything that Apple has left out? We have every bit of information structured in a neat way. As for interest among prospective customers, everyone in the digital medium is talking more loudly about these new devices than Apple itself. But then, Apple too hasn’t gone overboard. It just gives you the information that you need the most without making things complicated or too heavy to digest. The Apple brand finds a deep connect with the people who are looking for a colorful device that helps them with some forward thinking while on the move. So, inject confidence into your products and services and let them evoke interest in the customer. Desire: You can’t create the quintessential desire in a customer to possess a product by merely drawing his attention or evoking interest in him. You have to tell him how your products or services will enable him to improve his life or lifestyle. Only then will he desire for a product made by you. And when we are talking about a product, we are not just talking about its features. We are talking about the wholesome benefits that he may not be able to derive from a similar product range in the market. The desire of a customer is tied to the value of a product. If there’s no value, there’s no desire. Action: If you are courteous, prompt, and responsive to all of your customers with each of their transaction on your website, you know how to convert your potential leads into business. If you have got everything else right, you just have to make the customer undertake some easy calls to action. What’s the point of having good website traffic if the customers turn away from the last post just because you do not have clear calls to action? Make the customer feel at ease by answering each of his questions clearly without any element of subtlety and give him an easy window to make transactions. So, that’s how the AIDA model works. But then, people make their own tweaks to this model of sales and marketing. For instance, Sweden’s most influential blogger Johan Ronnestam follows the model of ACSSINEDUCAAS (Attention, Curiosity, Social, Search, Information, Navigation, Emotions, Desire, Usability, Conversion, Adaptiveness, Acquire, and Satisfaction). Yet, the original model (AIDA) still has great relevance and significance in the digital way of doing things. That’s all I have for you today. Will see you soon with another useful blog!
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