AIDA versus Micro-Moments: The Differences That Matter

Movie fanatics who have seen the film Glengarry Glen Ross remember the character Blake with his fiery sales-motivation “ABC: always be closing” speech.  

In that scene, Blake, portrayed by Alec Baldwin, gruffly tells his sales team to step up their approach to AIDA – “Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action” – or be fired.  

In real life, of course, AIDA is a classic sales and marketing philosophy, pioneered years ago by E. St. Elmo Lewis. AIDA was designed as a guide to consumer action, providing structure in planning advertising and other activities to stimulates sales.  

But classic ideas do get rejuvenated by new ideas. The latest idea rejuvenating aspects of AIDA is “micro-moments.” Micro-moments are personal instances where a customer has a need – to learn about a subject; complete a task; create something – and turns to a computer device – a smartphone, tablet, or speaker – to make a purchase arising from that need.  Micro-moments are opportunities for attracting customers if your product or service meets that need.

But there are differences between AIDA and micro-moments. What do those differences mean for effective retail strategies? 

It certainly means marketers have to get personal to understand the personas they are targeting.  But doing so means understanding the drivers for personalization relative to the sales process. 

The biggest difference between AIDA and micro-moments is how customer attention and interest are generated.  Much of AIDA is centered on persuading a customer of the general value proposition of a product or service.

The strategy for micro-moments is also based on persuasion, but with a more specific emphasis on the customer’s immediate needs and context.  In addition, micro-moments should be aligned with branding strategy, ensuring products and services come to front-of-mind as a customer confronts his or herr needs.

Another difference between AIDA and micro-moments is the absence, in the former, of an emphasis on post-sale follow-up.  One weakness of AIDA (which, after, concludes with the purchase “action”), is an inattention to post-purchase phenomena like customer satisfaction, consumption, and repeat patronage (see John Egan’s standard work, Marketing Communications). 

In contrast, follow-up mechanisms are common in today’s digitak marketing, such as remarketing emails triggered by customer behavior.  Analytics helps marketers discern which marketing media is consistently drawing customer interest, and where dollars are best invested.  This approach involves marketers paying closer attention to customer activity – closer attention to micro-moments.

Finally another factor worth noting is that customer attention is fragmented across digital devices.  AIDA was invented at a time where media and message were generally delivered across a handful of mass reach channels, and not easily iterated.

Today’s marketers face a continuously connected customer, with a plethora of media in which to receive a marketing message at any given time, and in any given place.  Brent Leary, partner at CRM Essentials, summed up the challenge back in 2010: “The Attention Economy just can’t keep up because it’s running at full capacity already.  This means that many of our ideas will never get the attention we want them to have – or need them to have in order for our businesses to meaningfully connect with the right people.”

His observation evokes the competitive environment marketers face today. As people reach full capacity for receiving and attending to messages, marketers must craft messages that fit naturally into consumers’ contexts and lifestyles to keep a grip on mindshare.  Insisting a customer pay attention to a product or service that is not immediately relevant to his or her needs is not the best way for brands to be memorable.

AIDA is not disappearing from the sales lexicon overnight, but the differences micro-moments have introduced enhance the “attention” and “interest” facets of the old formula. Marketers trained for AIDA must appreciate this difference to build long-term advantages into their campaigns. 

Focusing on micro-moments is one clear way to position products and services as providing value at those crucial moments, now and through a lifetime.  It’s just another way to “always be closing” in a volatile omnichannel world.

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