There are several copy writing formulas that apply across several media categories. One formula that’s easy to work from is the AIDA (pronounced “Eye-EE-da”, as in the famous Giuseppe Verdi opera) formula. A=Attention, I=Interest, D=Desire, A=Action. Not just a formula for writing direct mail copy, this formula also applies to writing e-mail blasts, radio and television commercials, for many types of newspaper and magazine advertising, and to a limited extent, billboards. For display ads in telephone directories, since the prospect already demonstrates interest and desire, the most salient feature should be the attention-getting function.
Attention is the part of the ad that “hooks” the prospect with a thought provoking statement, question, challenge, or with an eye-catcher or ear-catcher.
lnterest is explaining something about the product and why someone would want to buy it, especially from your company. The interest component can be done effectively in direct mail and other advertising with “bullet copy” (short phrases, frequently preceded with bulleting) and is usually preferable to paragraph copy. It’s OK to supplement the bullet copy with short sentences.
In the Desire aspect, the object is to make the pitch directly relevant to the prospect, particularly with regard to what’s in it for him and right now. Once again, bullet copy is effective in the desire part, and where appropriate, with a sentence or two to help in getting the message across more completely.
The Action part of the AIDA formula is where you ask for the order or the lead via a telephone number, a web link, a reply card, a coupon to be brought in or used online, or other device that enables and invites a prospect to keep the ball rolling. Reply cards, or more accurately, a perforated tear-off section of a mailer, are important because many prospects will review their admail after hours, when your phone isn’t being answered. Of course, getting the prospect to visit your website usually is a more immediate and practical solution for the prospect Practicing writing ad copy using the AIDA formula is the best way to learn it.