A study based on textual analysis of sales letters is reported that evaluates the Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action (AIDA) approach to teaching the writing of sales letters. Thirty business letters written by undergraduate business students and executives were analyzed. The forms of cohesion, voice pattern, and information focus of the letters were also examined by 15 readers who determined the overall effectiveness of the letters. AIDA represents a structural approach to the components of a sales letter and is based on the notion that "inductively" and "indirectly" organized sales letters allow writers to justify an action before requesting readers to take it. The letter should secure the attention of readers, sustain readers' interest, create a desire for readers to take action, and urge readers to take action. It was found that all the letters analyzed adhered closely to the AIDA plan but the majority of subjects failed to produce persuasive letters that took the need of the readers into account. Most letters adopted the writer-centered approach. Common pitfalls are described and illustrated. It is concluded that the contextual situation and the field of discourse must be considered in order to make sales letters most effective. Contains 9 references. (LB)
Paper presented at the Annual Eastern Michigan University Conference on Languages and Communication for World Business and the Professions (11th, Ypsilanti, MI, March 25-28, 1992).
Attention Interest Desire and Action Approach; Persuasive Strategies