Direct Response Copywriter on AIDA. Part 1.

No ... it's not the opera by Giuseppe Verdi. It's a famous direct response copywriting formula. Who created this formula? I have no idea. Maybe I should know. But here's what it stands for.

A = Attention. I = Interest. D = Desire. A = Action.

It's a good start, in a way, and it's very much an overview. It's not a precise template for copy but it's important for every direct response copywriter and every direct marketer to understand, at an almost professorial level, AIDA.

The four components of AIDA are linked. They must all be present in copy that's striving to maximize conversion. One part of AIDA leads to the next.

In this four-part series, I'm going to introduce AIDA, beginning with attention.

It's tempting to look at AIDA as just the headline and yes, the headline is vital to gain the attention of the reader, viewer, or listener. I typically use headline templates based on headlines that have worked for other promotions.

But there's much more to getting someone's attention than a "how to" headline.

I can walk into a crowded, loud bar and yell to get everyone's attention and then say, "free hamburgers right now at the restaurant accross the street." I would get everyone's attention for about 3 seconds and then everyone in the bar would continue drinking and bantering. I would be a pure annoyance.

It's the same with all the ads I see on the New York Subway. They get my attention because I'm there but it's all for the wrong reasons.

Attention that leads to a sale is what I'm striving to achieve as a direct response copywriter. My job is to get the attention of the man or woman who wants what my client provides and then keep their attention by providing interesting information.

That's very different from just getting someone's attention.

To enable the former, I must fully understand what the potnetial client or customer truly wants. Maybe it's to end joint pain. Maybe it's to look years younger. Maybe it's to hit a golf ball a long way.

Think about Cosmopolitan Magazine. Its readers want to look great, have a great love life, and enjoy great relationships. So the headlines on the cover gain the attention of the readers based on what the readers want. It's not really that complicated, my friends!

The editors could put a photo of a film star being beheaded on the cover ... and this would get everyone's attention ... but it's the wrong type of attention.

Want to get the right type of attention? Let's go back to that crowded bar. Let's say I see a friend who told me he is planning a trip to England. Imagine what happens when I say, "Hey John, I know a lot about England and I'd be happy to point you toward some places I know you'd like."

That's going to get the attention of my friend, John. Let's remember ... the goal of the attention here is to pique the next step in AIDA, which is INTEREST.

Anyone can get someone's attention. But it's only the skilled direct response copywriter who knows how to get the attention of the person in a way that keeps someone interested so they ultimately buy the product or service.


I'm a direct response copywriter working for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here when you have a project you'd like to discuss. I'm also a Dan Kennedy certified copywriter for information products.

What this Direct Response Copywriter Thinks About the Toyota Space Shuttle Stunt

Nice Stunt but…

On October 13, a Toyota Tundra, a pickup truck, will tow the 300,000 pound space shuttle to its final resting place at The California Science Center.

The choice of truck is no accident: it’s an advertising stunt organized by Saatchi and Saatchi to promote their client, Toyota.

Don’t believe it? Click here.

It will be amazing advertising with a 'to-die-for' message: "our truck is so strong it can tow a space shuttle."

The creatives at Saatchi and Saatchi who have organized this ad are giddy with themselves. Toyota got the nod, evidently, because it already had a ‘relationship’ with the aforementioned California Science Center.

OK. Follow the money. Whatever.

There will be plenty of free pub but the actual advertising will be on YouTube. It’s not actually that difficult to rig a vehicle to tow something big but that’s neither here nor there. A tug can tow a 747-8 that weighs over 975,000 pounds (442,253 kg) MTOW.


One of the people involved in the stunt has breathlessly declared: “This isn’t advertising. It’s history.”


Publicity comes and goes. It mostly goes. Tuesday’s news is usually forgotten by Thursday. It might be history but it's forgotten eventually.

If I were the marketing manager for Toyota, I would say to the advertising genii, “Nice stunt. Well done. Throw a party. are we going to measure the direct impact on Tundra sales? Will it affect overall Toyota sales? What’s the ROI?”

As a direct response copywriter, I can be creative but there’s only one reason to get my creative boots on: drive response.

The people involved in the project are:

  • Executive Creative Directors Chris Adams and Margaret Keene
  • Senior Copywriter Graham McCann
  • Creative Director Erich Funke
  • Senior Art Director Verner Soler

Chris, Margaret, Graham, Erich, and Verner: please tell me how many Tundras the stunt sells. If it sells TONS of Tundras, hats off. But if Tundra sales fail to increase enough to justify the cost, what’s the point?

If you tell me it’s all to promote the brand then it’s ALL a waste of time…to this direct response copywriter. We don't do branding in direct response because you can't directly measure ROI.

And if you disagree with my logic, go here and tell me why David Ogilvy is wrong.

Hat's off. Great stunt. What's the ROI?


I'm a direct response copywriter. I specialize in providing content and copy for the direct marketing environment for clients around the planet. I specialize in sales page copy, landing page copy and copy that just plain persuades readers to pull out their credit card and buy. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.


Interview with Copywriter David Ogilvy is Superb

I've always enjoyed good radio; I especially enjoy BBC Radio Scotland. One of the shows I enjoy is Off the Ball and it's two Scotsman talking about Scottish football (soccer). I've been listening to the show for seven years and I still know nothing about Scottish football. But it's a superb show. I also enjoy 'Get it On' which is a request show where pretty much anything can happen.

BBC Radio Scotland just ran a superb (but sadly short) bio of David Ogilvy. You can listen to it here.

I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. I specialize in providing copy and content for the direct marketing environment for clients around the world. Enter your info to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here.