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Is It Time To Give Old Ideas A New Spin?

They say that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ …

… course, the real questions is: ‘what was wrong with the old tricks in the first place?’

Do you ever get reminded of old ideas and instantly realize that with a modicum of dusting off or general tweaking that maybe you should revisit them?


I was recently rooting through some marketing books and reference material I hadn’t opened for nearly 20 years (looking for quotes I might use in a book I’m writing on public speaking); And I came across a training manual from the early 90s on advertising.

In opening it, I saw an acronym I had scribbled in big bold print and underlined with red ink; it was a well known copy-writing formula: AIDA.

Ring any bells for anyone? It did for me.

Just in case you don’t know, AIDA stands for:

  • A = Attention (Awareness)
  • I = Interest
  • D = Desire
  • A = Action

Related: Nine Ways To Market On A Shoestring – Without The Internet!

In Olden Days All Marketing Was Personal – Have We Gone Full Circle?

I had in my head that this formula had been spawned in the 70s or 80s, but was surprised to learn that it actually dated back to 1898 – when it was coined by an American advertising advocate, E. St. Elmo Lewis.

His copy writing principles captured the journey individuals took as a preface to making a decision to buy something as a consequence of advertising – some 100 years ago.

Of course, in his day (arguably outside of politics), there was no such thing as national communication campaigns – everything was about localised ‘bring to point’ marketing.

So what?

What we term traditional advertising (aka interruption marketing) has increasingly become less effective and more costly. And notwithstanding almost all of us scour online tools when thinking about potential purchase decisions…

…are we are returning to a point where we need to get local and personal again?

In a previous article, I spoke to what it takes to break through the clutter today – overcoming less effective advertising tools, diminishing attention spans and information overload.

I asked the question whether ‘it’s time to get back to more old fashioned methods, like public speaking and face to face communication to connect more effectively with your target audiences?’

And in thinking about Mr Lewis and his AIDA formula – it struck me that his model still has validity today if you add just one word: Credibility

Whether you’re communicating online or offline (or better still, integrating all your communication efforts for a multiplier effect) we still need

A = Attention

I = Interest

D= Desire

A= Action

But the underlying condition you must satisfy to pass through each step is trust. And make it personal.

Bolster great products and services with investments in personal brands, an increasingly important determinant of whether you and your company will earn the credibility you crave.

So thanks Mr. Lewis for the reminder – who says there isn’t life in the old dog yet?

Over to you. What marketing models (old or new) do you use to drive your business forward?

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Image: “DJ with table and Club Lights in the background/Shutterstock

Eamonn is the CEO of The Reluctant Speakers Club, a leading provider of public speaking courses in Ireland. Contact him to learn how he can help you gain more trust and inspire others with your ideas

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  • Hi Eamonn, I hadn’t heard of AIDA before but I agree that anything that is built on solid business principles is as applicable today as it ever has been. Thanks for reminding us that good things are always new things! 

  • Epobrien

    Thanks Niall – As you say, it’s really more about finding tools that work. I was shocked to find out just how old the AIDA model was!

  • Hi Eamonn, is the AIDA formula that old? Really? Wow. It is still as good today as it was yesterday. I loved your article. I’m currently reading Scientific Advertising and it’s an oldie but goodie in terms of the pointers that Mr Hopkins shares.

    It’s as relevant now as it was when it was published in 1923. “There is nothing new but what has been forgotten” springs to mind when I read your article.

    Thanks for the reminder.
    Take care,

  • Thanks for the post! As you say, the key is about thinking about key principles that work/ worked and how to re-apply them to today – and tomorrow…

  • Epobrien

     Hi Denise, thanks so much. Isn’t it extraordinary just how old those principles are?
    And I like your quote – completely new ideas are in shorter supply than many people think. As Gary says, the key can be to find ways to use or adapt what we already know works to achieve better results.

  • Epobrien

     Absolutely – trust has to be front and centre in all we do as modern marketers

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! My old telly still works, but will not provide me with a signal at the end of this year when our PBS in Ireland goes digital.
    Sometimes, we have to rework old ideas, and revive them. It’s like great business ideas, they often come from previously great business ideas that have worked. We do not necessarily have to re-invent the wheel every time, but tap into what’s out there already.

    I am developing something that utilises existing technology, and existing media. That was after many weeks procrastinating about re-inventing just to be so different. I can now still be different by doing it my way, but based on an existing sound model.

    Great post Eamonn, a nice thought provoker 🙂

  • Great post Eamonn, 

    Haven’t heard anybody mention AIDA in years, certainly must have been an interesting read – although I’m sure there are parts of those manuals you’d be happy never to encounter again too 🙂

    Traditional means of marketing have never gone away, they’ve been enhanced by new technologies and many channels have been threatened by more cost-effective means but the underlying principles remain the same as always.

  • susanpayton

    I’m all about scheduling tweets. I do that even when I’m not on vacation! But I like the idea of looking like my company is busy at work, even when I’m relaxing on the beach!

  • How about having guest bloggers during the holidays?

  • Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Kimberly – love the superhero reference. I know I could never do the job because of those skilled needed. I look forward to your next post

  • kingofcontent92

    Hi Kimberly,

    Reading from the title in Bizsugar, I got a question in my mind, “Why Batman?”. I got interested so I read it and I found it great. Those are Batman’s attitude in Business huh? So I’ll follow it. I want to be a super hero in business area. Hehe :-). Thanks form sharing.

  • Kimberly: I am fan of Steve Ditko’s work (Spider-Man and Mr. A), so it was fun to read your post. I have been studying project management (international project coordinator) for two years, so I can relate to challenges. I recommend to read Critical Chain by Dr. Goldratt if you want to go get the super powers from a great fictional story on project management.

  • Hi Sian, thank you! Being a project manager isn’t easy but it’s also not impossible 🙂

  • Why Batman… Well, I don’t want to ride the bandwagon and use Superman just because there’s a new movie about him-would love to rewrite a version of this using Minions, though ;). Just kidding.

    I think Batman embodies the characters and attitudes that a successful project manager should posses. But, of course, you should also be your own superhero in the business area 🙂
    Thank you for your comment!

  • I’m really glad you can relate! Thanks for your comment and the recommendation. I know about the theory itself but I haven’t read the novel yet. Will surely add it to my to-read list.

  • Kimberly: It is a great book. Personally, I think it should be required reading in project management education.

  • Hi Sian,

    I’ve been there couple of times so I tried to put all of the essential steps for a successful new web project.

  • Ted Begnoche

    Nice job, William. Good tips here. I particularly agree with #7, a clear a call to action is a must!
    Thanks for a bunch of good stuff all in one place!

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