I have an idea for you the next time you shop. (Holiday gifts, anyone?) If it’s not something you normally buy – cereal, socks, toothpaste, etc. – think back to when you first became aware of that product or service, and ask who or what brought it to your attention. Then think about the experiences that influenced your interest – and ultimately, your purchase. What compelled you along the path toward purchase? What brought you to, as Google calls it, the “Zero Moment of Truth”?

AID Spectrum in Communications Planning

At Stern Strategy Group, in communications planning, we refer to this movement from awareness to interest to demand (e.g., a purchase or tangible action toward a higher level of commitment – to a product, service, idea, etc.) as the AID Spectrum, a process based on time-tested sales and marketing funnel concepts. For years, our industry has focused on generating awareness. “Building buzz” is the easy part. On its own, however, it’s no longer enough. Our job now is to stimulate the interest that fuels demand.communications planning, Awarness, interest, demand spectrum

Here’s an example of my own journey along the AID Spectrum. I purchased a new book by a well-known author. You’d think it was a simple purchase decision. Wrong. Let’s talk through the experience. I became aware of the book from a New York Times review. On its own, the review wasn’t enough for me to move the book to my “cart.” In fact, I read several reviews and watched a few YouTube videos of the author discussing the book.

I was interested enough to want to learn more, but still wasn’t convinced whether I should 1) buy it at all, 2) get the Kindle version, or 3) go full tilt and invest more – dollars and precious space in my house – with the hardcover edition. (Yes, space factors into most of my purchase decisions these days. I have two kids and they have a lot of stuff.) Ultimately, I went with option two, which offered the right level of investment (low price) for my demand (cautiously intrigued). And with that, a sale was made and my journey along the AID Spectrum was complete. (Now if I can just finish what turned out to be a wacky book.)

But what influences our interest? And what converts our interest into action? These are the critical questions.Click To Tweet It’s a simplistic example, but the challenge is real – for all of us on both sides of the equation: sales in communications planning and consumers in the buyer’s journey. It’s truly a process that needs to be better understood and valued because it will be increasingly integral to helping businesses grow.

There are perhaps thousands of products and services we’re aware of – from different models of cars to colors of carpet, from who cuts our hair to who advises our financial decisions. But what influences our interest? And what converts our interest into action? These are the critical questions marketers must answer during communications planning in order to successfully push clients’ products and services through the spectrum of awareness, interest and demand.

For more communications planning insights and tips, read our guide, “How to Create a Communications Plan Your Boss Can’t Refuse.”

communications planning
With more than a decade at Stern, Ned has had the opportunity to counsel – and learn from – some of the brightest minds in business. A lifelong student, he is always searching for new ways to hone his craft by applying insights and ideas from outside sources. He says inspiration can come from anywhere in the world – from his young children to emerging start-ups to more established brands – which he constantly draws on to infuse creativity into client programming. As vice president, his pragmatic leadership style combines with strategic thinking to effectively connect clients with top-tier media, conferences and industry influencers. If he hadn’t answered the call to become a communications pro, you might have found him as a carpenter crafting wood furnishings and cabinetry.