Excerpt from Harness the Business Writing Process
AIAA: attention, interest, attitude, action
You may not think you are selling when you write but if you want your reader to take a specific action, you need to sell the reader. To do that, you need to do what advertisers do:
Attention: capture the attention of your reader and set expectations
Interest: hold reader’s interest by demonstrating how you will meet relevant expectations
Attitude: change or influence your reader’s attitude
Action: call for specific action
Depending on what you are writing, you AIAA, so to speak, by doing the following:
Capture your reader’s attention by using appropriate subject lines, titles and sub-titles, opening paragraphs and/or executive summaries.
Hold your reader’s interest with clear, concise, focused writing that reinforces the reader’s beliefs and expectations or enlightens the reader through the presentation of relevant information.
Influence or change your reader’s attitude by overcoming any objections your reader might have, informing the reader of the benefits of your position, by stating your case in a logical, persuasive manner—supporting your arguments with relevant facts and/or by building trust in you, your position, your company.
Achieve your purpose by, if required, defining the action you want your reader to take and asking your reader to take it by a specific date.
In other words, to be an effective business writer, you must AIAA so you can sell your purpose—the reason you are writing. Again, you may not believe that you are in sales, however, if you want somebody to do something, you have to sell that person on the action you want taken.
The action might be as complex as recommending that a new highway be built through an ecologically sensitive area or it might be something as simple as asking the reader to attend a meeting or send you a document. The point is, if you don’t catch the person’s attention, he will not read your message. If you don’t hold the reader’s interest, he will stop reading and not understand what you want done. If you don’t influence attitude, the reader will not be motivated to do what you’ve requested. In addition, if you do not clearly ask for the sale—or the action—you might not get what you want, when or where you want it.
Paul Lima is a freelance writer and business writing trainer. You can read more about him online.