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The Marketing Model Challenge: AIDA vs. DAGMAR

Moxie League

Some of you may recall the Pepsi Challenge of the 80’s. Pepsi vs. Coke and all across America people were choosing… Coke.

Well in the marketing/advertising world there is a growing debate on AIDA vs. DAGMAR. I’m a bit biased because I’m team AIDA but don’t hold that against me, I’m just a Gen X’er who was mentored by Boomers.

Now you may be asking what in the world is AIDA or DAGMAR? Basically these are guiding principles that every marketing campaign has used to structure the buyers purchasing cycle.

As a business owner or marketer, you’re likely bombarded with ads from gurus who claim to have a new secret to marketing that you’ve never considered before. While we’re all looking for that magic bullet that will radically increase our sales, the reality is that if something’s not working, it’s usually because we haven’t leveraged the basic principles of how and why people buy.

The secret isn’t like book and subsequent movie The Secret.

Just because you think of increased sales does not mean it will happen. There’s some method to the madness, so to speak. So here’s a nice simplified introduction on the AIDA and DAGMAR marketing model’s to get you started. I bet most of you have been doing this and didn’t even realize.

What is the AIDA marketing model?

The AIDA model dates back to the late 19th century, though you’re likely already familiar with the model. It was created by Elias St. Elmo Lewis, an American advertising agency CEO in 1898, who

wanted to show why advertising was so necessary in a time when an ad agency was an entirely new concept.

AIDA follows the 4 cognitive steps that all buyers take when they buy a new product. AIDA stands for:

A — Awareness: this is where they become aware of a product or service
I Interest: they are intrigued by the product or service’s benefits, and start paying attention
D — Desire: they understand the benefits of the product or service and start desiring the product
A — Action: they take action and purchase the product, download information, or inquire about the product or service

How can I use the AIDA model?

The model is the foundation for every purchase we ever make – even those quick decisions we make at the grocery store follow this model. We decide to look for a candy bar, we see one we’ve never tried before and gain interest, we look closer and see that it contains things we like, we consider buying it, and then we put it in our basket or cart.

The AIDA model is so simple, yet you may be surprised to realize how often business owners and marketers forget to assess these points when creating a marketing plan for a new product or service. Simply reviewing a marketing strategy against the principles of AIDA will help ensure a marketing strategy is on the right track. Similarly, if a marketing campaign isn’t working, then a review of the principles can help pinpoint where it’s going wrong.

When you’re next planning a marketing campaign, think about the following questions:

  1. How do we make buyers aware of the product/service? (Don’t forget to think about your ideal customer avatar here – if you target the wrong buyer, your marketing campaigns will be unfruitful.)
  2. How do we pique their interest?
  3. What makes this product or service desirable? How can we highlight these points for our customers?
  4. Are our CTAs (calls-to-action) in line with the product? Where are they and are they placed optimally?
What’s an example of AIDA?

We covered how AIDA works for a customer’s buying decision, but now let’s take a look at how we can use it on the business side to accurately plan our marketing strategies.

Imagine you are a graphic designer who creates high-end websites for coaches and educators. You want to launch your new, signature service and book your calendar with these high-end clients. You know your target market and your service, so now you can ask yourself the AIDA questions to plan and optimize your launch.

  1. How will you make your customers aware of your new service? You decide to:
      • Share beneficial content on your social media and blog which is also shared on Pinterest
      • You make guest appearances on podcasts your ideal customer listens to, to talk about the benefits of your service in an indirect manner
      • You create guest posts for other blogs, including larger sites like Medium, and talk to local and industry news outlets about possible stories or advice you can give them for their publications
      • You promote an offer to get a free website audit, which will entice your ICA
  2. How will you gain their interest? You’ll gain their interest by delivering valuable knowledge that will educate them on why quality design combined with great copy and offers will turn their website into a revenue-generating machine, and with your offer of a free audit (which you’ll also emphasize is of $599 value).
  3. What will make your customers desire your service? By showing your expertise, your ideal clients will see you as an authority in this space and will want to follow you/work with you. You can show examples and testimonials for your work that proves that your design increases conversions, which will compel your ICA to work with you.
  4. Are your CTAs strategically placed? You’ll place CTAs to get a free audit or to find out more about your service in your social media posts, guest posts, and podcasts where possible, and you’ll provide a link to book a discovery call after the notes you give for every website audit.
Does the AIDA methodology miss anything?

Yes – customer retention. Customer retention is said to cost you 5x less than the cost of finding a new customer, so it’s incredibly important. Make sure you don’t drop your customer once they’ve finished the checkout process – begin to nurture them and continue to provide them with value that will keep them in the awareness and interest stages of AIDA, and move them back through the process when they need your product or service once more.

What is the DAGMAR marketing model?

DAGMAR is a model that focuses on how you guide customers to your product or service. It was first coined by Russel Colley in the 1961 Association of National Advertisers Report, though was expanded on in 1995 by Solomon Dutka. DAGMAR stands for Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results. While not exactly catchy, it builds on the stages that AIDA lays out.

DAGMAR has two primary goals:

    1. To create communication (AKA content) that accomplishes each step of AIDA
    2. To create a baseline and targets to ensure that the success of any marketing or advertising is measurable.

Colley strongly believed that great advertising focuses on communication over selling. He outlined 4 requirements for evaluating if an advertising campaign is effective, which are:

    1. Be measurable
    2. Define your ideal customer avatar(s)
    3. Identify a measure that shows where you are now and where you expect to be after the campaign for both you and your customers. What change do you want there to be in your customer? Non-awareness to awareness? To change a negative perception to a positive one? Or to convert fans into buyers?
    4. Give your campaign a timeframe (typically a quarter)

DAGMAR does not only focus on the creation of the communication and pathway you expect your customer to take, but meaningful objectives you want to come out of your advertising and marketing efforts, besides simply moving from awareness to customer.

DAGMAR can be applied to just about any campaign – whether you want to change your brand’s perception or encourage past customers to repurchase from you.

Should I Use AIDA or DAGMAR?

There are those who say use both. The AIDA model is the foundation for every buying decision, and if you don’t carefully consider it when you plan your campaigns, you may miss an essential puzzle piece. However, DAGMAR takes those basic steps and ensures that your campaigns are designed meaningfully with an objective, are measurable, and will be evaluated after a certain timeframe. AIDA must be considered in relation to DAGMAR or your campaigns will likely be lackluster.

Now, it’s not for me to tell you which one is better or which to use… it’s for you to decide. But I am curious about what you think. Try one or both. Either way let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, stay moxie my friends!

The Marketing Moxie League is the official blog of Marketing Moxie, LLC., where we dare to be daring! We love to hear from you. Please comment, like, and share below.

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