In one of my earliest blog posts, I emphasized the need for internal communicators to think like marketers. If you’ve been in corporate communications for a while, you’ve probably mastered your own style and formula for how you address and engage employees.
Part of engaging workers, however, is “selling” them on your organization’s message. If you’re unfamiliar with marketing principles, it might seem difficult to see how you might implement them in your writing. So let’s look at one popular technique marketers use regularly to attract customers and convince them to buy in: AIDA.
A = Attention
There should be no big mystery as to the meaning of the first step – you need to grab the attention of your readers. You have the advantage that marketers don’t have, and that is the knowledge of exactly who your reader is – in internal communications, it’s always the employee. Marketers need to do a lot of research to figure out what kind of people are buying their product and how to speak specifically to them. That your readers share a common characteristic makes your job a bit easier.
Grabbing the readers’ attention can be accomplished in the subject line, the headline, the first paragraph, or any combination. Make them want to open the email or article and read on.
I = Interest
Once you’ve attracted the reader’s attention, your next step is to hold their interest by addressing a “pain point.” Let’s take as an example a common topic for internal communicators – open enrollment. What would the consequences be of missing out on open enrollment? What “pain” would that mean for employees if they don’t enroll in the right plan or any plan? Grab their attention by emphasizing the negative consequences they should avoid by enrolling by the deadline.
You want to explain how the problem or pain you’ve identified can negatively affect their lives. By personalizing the problem, you’re making it hit closer to home and creating a sense of urgency to resolve it as quickly as possible.
D = Desire
The next step is to emphasize the benefits of taking action. Provide the solution and demonstrate how better off they’ll be by following your direction. In the open enrollment example, you want to describe the process of enrolling and how taking action will alleviate any concerns about having the medical coverage they want and need. You are giving them the peace of mind of being enrolled. You might provide a testimonial from an employee who explains how easy it is to enroll and how much better he/she feels not having the worry of missing out on medical coverage.
A = Action
Now that you’ve made your “pitch” and provided the solution to their problems, the final step is to persuade the prospects to take immediate action. Continuing with our open enrollment example, it should become pretty obvious about what the reader should do – enroll in a medical plan. But regardless of whether it’s obvious, you still need to hit it home – enroll now. Don’t be left without medical coverage when the deadline passes. Provide a link to the enrollment system or instructions on how to enroll.
AIDA might not be applicable to all communications, but I think it’s a great exercise to keep your reader in mind and address the issues that might concern them. Recognizing their “pains” and providing the solutions are effective ways to build engagement. What are your thoughts? Do you apply any marketing principles when writing your corporate messages, or do you think it’s an ineffective approach to addressing an internal audience? Let us know in the Comment section below.
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