After you’ve worked through the initial questions we discussed in Part 1, you’re ready to write the first draft of your letter. One method you can use is called the AIDA formula. This method can help ensure that your message captures the reader’s attention and motivates the reader to respond.
AIDA stands for:
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these AIDA steps.
In your opening paragraph or paragraphs, you’ll introduce relevant reader benefits and capture attention right off the bat. You’ll do this by focusing on the reader.
Many times, we’re tempted to jump into writing about why we’re qualified to send the letter in the first place, giving a bio, extolling credentials, etc. Avoid this temptation. Instead, immediately speak to the reader and his or her wants and needs.
There are different ways to capture attention. Here are some ideas for the opening paragraph or paragraphs of your letter:
- Make a comparison or tell a story. For example, if you’re writing a letter to your existing female clients to tell them about the benefits of annuities, you may begin your letter with, “Your neighbor may already own one. No wonder why she’s so confident!”
- Speak to an event in the reader’s life. For example, if you’re writing a letter to potential clients around ages 55-65, you may want to talk about retirement in the opening paragraphs. “You’re about to retire. Congratulations! With the second half of your life ahead of you, wouldn’t it be comforting to know how much money you can safely spend on all of the things you want to do?”
- Rhetorical question. With this technique, you ask a question and then answer it for them. “What are the main characteristics of retirees today? A recent Gallup survey found that seven out of 10 retirees don’t know how much money they’ll need in retirement. Do you?”
- Product fact. You can capture attention in the initial paragraphs by pairing a need or concern with a product feature. “Not a single annuity owner has lost money on their contract during the last six months.”
- Surprise question. Here’s another example combining a need with an annuity product feature. “Guarantees! How do those sound in today’s economy?”
- Challenge question. With this final idea starter, you challenge your reader to see himself or herself as owning the benefit you’re promoting. “Savings. Guarantees. Ongoing cost reductions. Ways to improve your health. Yours, when your own XYZ product.”
Now, let’s turn to the second part of the AIDA method: Interest. After you’ve piqued the reader’s attention, you’ll move on to increasing their interest and awareness of your project, product, service or problem. In other words, you’ll present the main idea of your letter. And you’ll do this by appealing to the reader’s senses by keying in on direct or indirect benefits.