top of page


A business model for improving marketing communications

In 1904, Frank Dukesmith, an American super salesman, suggested four steps that lead to a purchasing decision. The acronym AIDA was subsequently coined by CP Russell in an article in the journal Printers Ink in 1921 – How to write a sales making letter.

Making sure that communications have impact is one of the most difficult tasks of marketers. It's a hackneyed saying but there is a lot of truth in it that half the money we spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is we don't know which half.


Market research can help us fine-tune a promotional message. We can use the bull's-eye framework to figure out the essence of our brand. We can use the tipping point for targeting messages. The value proposition canvas will help us work out what we should be saying about our offer. All these are useful frameworks and they fit within the overarching AIDA model.


The AIDA model is tried and tested and helps us understand how we need to move through different levels of communication to achieve action.

The four steps in the AIDA model are as follows:

  • Awareness: this is the starting point of all effective communications. If people are not aware of a product they cannot be interested in it and no action can be taken. There are different levels of awareness.  When testing awareness in surveys it is normal to make a distinction between prompted and unprompted awareness. The prompted awareness figure is always a lot higher than the unprompted figure - and it is the unprompted level that really matters.

  • Interest: sufficient interest has to be built by the promotion to generate action. The offer has to be portrayed in a really appealing way by featuring the customer value proposition (CVP).

  • Desire: interest is warm but desire is hot. The customer must be moved to really wanting to acquire the product.

  • Action: this sales model aims to result in a transaction. In most cases it is hoped that the product will be purchased. However, there may be occasions when the model seeks to prompt a visit to a website or request a brochure.

The percentages shown on the left-hand side of the inverted triangle indicate how the effect of the communication declines as it gets closer to driving action.  These proportions will vary depending on the product and market. However, it is nearly always the case that only a small proportion of people who are aware of and interested in a product actually go ahead and buy it.


The AIDA model is still a byword in advertising today. However, it is recognised that achieving a sale should not be an end in itself. Successful marketing is about building loyal customers and for this, satisfaction is important. This has led to some people modifying the acronym to AIDAS, the final S being for Satisfaction.

bottom of page