Attention… Interest… Desire… Action

Several weeks ago, I wrote an article titled “Boxers — or Briefs?” I am still getting tons of email in response! Well, I guess you could say that I’m a bit overwhelmed by the response (but keep those emails coming). Do you think it had anything to do with the subject line? (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.)

Anyway, due to popular demand, I’m going to write about the brief… and how it relates to a very old marketing principle called AIDA — or attention, interest, desire, and action. Before you pooh-pooh this altogether and send me scathing emails like “been there, done that,” hear me out. I will put this age-old principle to work with — you got it — email examples. And in the context of the brief and how it relates to your final email creative — whether it’s text, HTML, streaming video and audio, or whatever.


OK, hopefully I’ve got your attention. But how does one get attention with an email? Well, the subject line and the “From” line in an email are arguably equally important. (And watch out for those words that evoke the feeling that your email is spam, as one of my readers duly noted with regard to an example I referenced in a past article.)

So, once your audience gets past the subject line — and the “From” line — and does indeed open your email, you’ve proven that the all-important attention was given by your audience. Hopefully, you have a benefit-driven headline that breathes life into the ultimate benefit to your target audience.

Notice I said “benefit,” not “benefits.” It’s imperative that a single-minded benefit be brought alive creatively. If you try to shoehorn too many benefits into one creative execution, you will only confuse your target audience, and your message will not have as much impact.

Whether you call it the unique selling proposition (USP), the single-minded proposition (SMP), or the ultimate benefit to the target audience (UBTTTA), it’s all the same (OK, I made up the last acronym). In any case, you get the point. But, at the end of the day, it’s best to always refer back to the brief and make sure your creative is “on brief” and indeed captures attention.


Now that you’ve got your target audience’s attention, how do you keep their interest? Well, I’ll give you an example of an email promotion that kept my interest. That would be Harry and David. Have you ever seen the stuff it sends out via email? Wow! The creative direction is lovely, and the copy sings.

Picture this: the sumptuous visual of a ripe, juicy pear, just sliced in half. Grabs attention (for those of us who are hungry) and generates interest. Not interested yet? How about reading copy that talks about tart, crunchy Granny Smith apples, mellowed and sweetened with rich, buttery caramel? Mmmmm. The world-class art direction and compelling copy are a great testament to Harry and David and its email marketing efforts.


Once you have the audience’s attention and interest, the creative should elicit a desire to know more about the products or services of any given company. Since we’re using food as an example, let’s continue with Harry and David. Maybe you’re more of a savory person than a sweet person. In that case, let’s discuss one of their savory products, such as their new smoked-salmon collection — a legend for its clean, fresh flavor, with the firm, flaky texture that salmon lovers crave. At this point, the desire should be so intense that your target audience will want to immediately find out how to get these products.


Simply put, this is the stage at which your target audience is ready to act on your message. In the case of Harry and David, the obvious call to action would be “click here to order now” in response to mouths watering at the visuals and descriptions of their products. Just make sure you give your audience plenty of opportunities to click: meaning, link everything — from the headline to your logo to the text calls to action and everything in between.

Bottom line: Make sure your creative is “on brief” and it gets your target audience’s attention, interest, and desire… leading them to action!

That’s it from me this week. So long until September 25.


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