April, 2016
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action, Part 1


AIDA is an acronym for Attention – Interest – Desire – Action. Focusing on these words can help guide you when writing material designed to persuade potential clients to act in a certain way. Whether you’re creating an advertisement, blog post, video, brochure, direct mail piece (such as a postcard) or a newsletter for real estate agents or homebuyers, you should be “thinking AIDA” when you write.

This article is not meant to be a college-level course in writing ad copy, of course, but here are a few tips you can try.

Immediately grab the reader’s attention with a headline and subhead. Because advertising fills our daily lives—ads cover almost every conceivable surface and fill the airwaves—most people are desensitized to them. We look, but we don’t see. Successful advertising finds a way to break through our desensitization.

Some ads use shock tactics to get your attention. It doesn’t matter if the shock has nothing do to with the product or service. The goal is to jar you into paying attention and to create a memorable connection to the product or service. Humor is another tool of the advertising world. If the advertiser can make you laugh, you might remember the product or service with fondness. Another time- honored strategy is using sex to sell. Again, the goal is to make a connection in the consumer’s mind between something pleasant and the product or service.

Although sex is used in many ad campaigns, not surprisingly, we don’t believe it works well for home inspection advertising. On the other hand, we’ve seen both shock value and humor used effectively. Using an image—in addition to or instead of words—also can help grab your audience’s attention.

Keep your headline short to make sure it will generate immediate interest. For example, don’t say, “Get a Home Inspection to Protect Your Investment.” The “Get a Home Inspection” part makes the headline long and it’s unnecessary because the reader will realize they need a home inspection when they read the next part of your ad. Here are some better headline ideas:

  • How to Avoid a Money Pit
  • Don’t Gamble When Buying a Home
  • Reduce the Risks in Buying a Home
  • How to Avoid Buying a Lemon
  • Will Your Dream Home Become Your Nightmare?
  • Invest $400, Save Over $10,000!
  • Knowledge is Power—Let us Empower you
  • Protect Your Investment
  • Make the Right Decision
  • Don’t Get Burned
You’ll notice that many of these titles create a problem and suggest a solution in just a few words. The idea is to grab readers’ attention by telling them that buying a home can be a big financial risk and then keeping their interest by reminding them that a home inspection can dramatically reduce that risk.

Next, you must continue to develop your readers’ interest. There should be a seamless flow from reading the headline to discovering important or interesting information. Posing a question can be a good way to follow up on a headline. For example: “Did you know that 40 percent of homes in the Chicago area have a problem with wet basements?”

Also, the word “free” usually makes people look twice. If it doesn’t work in the headline, try including it in another part of your ad. You’d think that with so many companies offering free things, people would become desensitized to these claims, but it hasn’t happened yet!

So, what can be “free” about a $450 home inspection? Perhaps you could offer one of the following:

  • FREE home encyclopedia for every client
  • FREE checklist of things to look for in a home during the home-buying process
  • FREE telephone consultations with you for as long as the client owns the home
  • FREE seminar for first-time homebuyers

After you’ve captured the readers’ interest, you should increase their desire for your product or service. State the benefits from a reader’s perspective. For example: “You have enough tough decisions to make when buying your new home. Our professional evaluation gives you one less thing to worry about.”

Remember, prospective clients will find the benefits of your service more valuable than the features of your service. (Refer to recent issues of the ASHI Reporter for more information about benefits and features.)

Coming soon: ACTION!
This introduction to AIDA marketing covered Attention, Interest and Desire. Next month’s column will give you tips for Action and outline strategies for writing great headlines in your advertising. Stay tuned!