A 4-step writing formula for ad agency new business

AIDA Formula for Ad Agency New Business

The use of the AIDA Formula can simplify your content marketing.

The 1992 movie, Glengarry, Glen Ross, was about a group of desperate and struggling real estate agents. Alec Baldwin plays the role of  their sales motivator. He shares with the group the AIDA formula and then informs them that they must compete in a sales contest where the losers will be fired.

This is an excellent 4-step formula for any writing project: screenplays, sales letters, ad copy, blog posts, news releases, agency presentations and web pages. It is helpful for all communications.

AIDA is an advertising formula attributed to Advertising Hall of Famer, Elias St. Elmo Lewis, back in 1903. Lewis wrote ,

The mission of an advertisement is to:

  1. Attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it
  2. Then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it
  3. Then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it.

If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement.

In 1921, C.P. Russell, was the first to use these principles and turn them into the AIDA acronym which stands for:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

I’ve personally assisted over 135+ agencies in developing a system of writing for the inbound marketing for new business. Many struggle with writing. It’s not only hard workout mentally, most of us aren’t born with a natural ability to write well.  As Hemingway once said,

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

You will find that the AIDA Formula will give a helpful boost to your writing. Use it as an outline for your next writing project:

A – Attention:

Build awareness and attract the attention of your readers.  You simply tell a potential reader what your article is about. I see examples of headlines daily that give you absolutely no idea what the article might be about. These type headlines won’t create targeted traffic and they don’t rank well in search.

I – Interest:

Raise your reader’s interest by focusing on and demonstrating advantages and benefits. I almost always begin each of my posts with what I call the “benefit statement.” I ask myself the question, “what is the benefit or takeaway of the reader if they commit to read my post?” I answer that question in a single sentence and it helps to provide direction for the entire article.

I’ve been around enough great copy writers throughout my career to know that I am not among them. But, I’ve been able to create a content platform that generates significant daily online traffic because I’ve learned to consistently provide content that is beneficial to my readers.

D – Desire:

Prospective clients are looking for expertise. If you want a positioning of expertise and create new business opportunities through content marketing, solve your reader’s marketing problems and provide solutions. Give away some of your thinking. It creates a strong personal bond with your readers and an appeal for your services.

New York Times best-selling author and keynote speaker, Dave Kerpen, states,

“Your writing is a reflection of your thinking. Clear, succinct, convincing writing will differentiate you as a great thinker and a valuable asset to your team. If you want to be taken seriously by your … clients and prospects, you must become a better writer.”

A – Action:

Even though you lead with benefits over your credentials, capabilities and case studies, content marketing isn’t passive. You have to tell the reader what to do next by a compelling call-to-action. That action could be to sign-up for an eNewsletter, register for a webinar, schedule a workshop or enlist you to speak.

This is an example of a good call-to-action by Hubspot that is relevant to our discussion. It states the problem, provides solutions and it uses benefit oriented copy to enlist a response.

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You may also be interested in Dave Kerpen’s article, “Want To Be Take Seriously? Become a Better Writer.”

I’ve always been drawn to formulas. Here are a few additional formula articles that I’ve written that I hope you will find helpful:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Steven Napoli says:

    Get them to sign on the line that is dotted.

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