My AIDA. Your iPOD: Inclusive Profit-Oriented Development

AIDA in circles red MANILA - Right away, let me arouse your interest and titillate your fancy by telling you I have a seductive girlfriend named AIDA and we excitingly share a common and passionate Hierarchy of Desire. You should be so lucky!

AIDA is involved in marketing, as women usually are. She has to do with what some people call “Hierarchy of Readiness” ( and “Hierarchy of Effects” ( With AIDA, you have to be on top of any hierarchy.

If you are into corporate planning, I may have news for you. Now then, if you are in Bangladesh, or India, or the Philippines, or Zimbabwe; if you are into research for development, R4D; and if you have a corporate plan, Corp Plan that you would like to market to your own staff, sponsors, allies public and private, and to the masses via the mass media, I may have good and free counsel for you:

Advice #1: Get AIDA going for you.

Remember, your new Corp Plan is a new product. It needs to be marketed inside and outside of your select group, and for that purpose, I may know some things you don’t, starting with AIDA.

But first, to establish some credibility, let me tell you that in the last 35 years, I have been and/or still am:

(a) a founder of 3 institutional publications - a quarterly technical journal (Sylvatrop), a monthly newsletter (Canopy), a quarterly color magazine (Habitat) that made an unknown local institute into an internationally respected one within 5 years - that would be the Forest Research Institute from mid-1975 to mid-1980 BC (Before Computers).

(b) a writer on science from the sea to the soil to the tree - from the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources (now WorldFish) to the University of the Philippines Los Baños to the Forest Research Institute (now Ecosystem Research & Development Bureau).

(c) an editorial adviser of thesis students from bachelor to doctorate degrees, from agriculture to cultural anthropology.

(d) an editor of several books written and published by others.

(e) Editor in Chief of a technical journal that I made up-to-date within 4 years, from being late 3 years, and immediately after that put it in the international elite list called ISI (now referred to as Web of Knowledge) - that would be the Philippine Journal of Crop Science published by the Crop Science of the Philippines based at UP Los Baños.

(f) author of 3 popular science books published abroad - by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.

(g) by vocation, a teacher, having graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, major in Ag Education from the College of Agriculture of the University of the Philippines 45 years ago.

(h) by avocation, a creative writer, which matches as well as is nourished by my eclectic interests in reading and wanting to contribute my talent to development.

(i) an inveterate blogger - try googling for “frank hilario” without the double quotes and you should get at least 500,000 or half a million results, English pages only with strict filtering.

Having known and applied quite a number of theories of communication over many decades, I now recommend that for marketing your Corp Plan, you borrow from the success of sales people with what they call the linear Hierarchy of Readiness, the famous AIDA:


That’s what I call the Hierarchy of Desire. In fact, it should be written out like this, to show the steps, to show what’s the highest level of desire, to imitate Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:


We are borrowing the original 1898 idea of AIDA from Elias St Elmo Lewis, American pioneer in advertising and sales. In explaining and defending his AIDA theory, Lewis said that “the most successful salespeople followed a hierarchical, 4-layer process using the 4 cognitive phases that buyers follow when accepting a new idea or purchasing a new product” (ANN, Perfect for our purpose.

Advice #2: Get the 4 Cs working for you.

If you want to know exactly where I’m coming from, it’s C4D, or communication for development. I write to support development; I don’t imagine myself apart from that growth process, as the mass media do in the Philippines and abroad.

In C4D, I consistently use the 4 Cs as my guide in marketing ideas; that is to say, I believe that any piece of communication must be Comprehensive, Coherent, Concise, and Clear. Comprehensive - not complete (has everything there is to know) but has the essentials. Coherent - ideas flow from one to the other rather smoothly. Concise - not condensed but brief enough. Clear - understandable by the layman, not heavy with technical jargon. Aha! Computerese is the most glaring example of such language; most of those writing about computers and the Internet don’t mind if their readers understand them or not.

The 4 Cs take care of the Content; what about the actual Messages themselves? That calls for AIDA.

It is important that C4D provide the stimulus in each phase so that the process ends up with someone accepting a new idea or buying a new product. AIDA is “a practical sales tool” (Gordon Torr, 18 August 2010, On my part, I accept AIDA as the theory of everything in communication. Including communicating a consciousness, paradigm, knowledge and technology.

AIDA for C4D. In other words, at 4 different stages in communication, the messages are 1st, to increase Awareness of the product or service; 2nd, to push Awareness into the next stage, Interest; 3rd, to push Interest into Desire, which automatically leads to the 4th stage, Action.

The practice of AIDA

That’s theory. What we need now is practice, application of the theory. Now, I just happen to have enough materials for it, drawn from the real world, adapted for our C4D exercise.

My favorite institute of research for development, R4D, has just come out with its corporate plan, Corp Plan, up to 2020. Now R4D wants its Corp Plan to be accepted and internalized by its staff before it attempts to “sell” it to its partners in R4D, public and private - and then to the mass media.

As it turns out, the corporate strategy is inclusive profit-oriented development, iPOD. Inclusive of the very poor, inclusive of climate change - especially the factor of drought. R4D wants the poor villages in the drylands of Africa and Asia to help themselves through the concept of the iPOD, which calls for connecting the villagers to available and affordable resources for production, and finally to the markets of their produce, to avoid the middlemen and become the middlemen themselves, the profits of marketing going to the producers as marketers. My suggestion: Women make the best marketers.

Since it’s a Corp Plan, it must have a Vision, Mission, and Strategy. The Vision is the desired common future. The accomplishment of the Mission is meant to bring about the fulfillment of the Vision. The iPOD is the Strategy to carry out the Mission.

To avoid putting the cart before the horse, we must come out first with the Vision. So, what’s the Vision for R4D? I’ll volunteer a meaningful one: A house for every home in every village.

A home is not a structure but a family, a household, where everyone ideally loves and respects each other. Or, more simply, a home is with whom you’re always accepted, no matter who you have become. A house is an enclosure with walls, and a floor or two, where the home dwells and is protected from the elements. The house in that Vision is neither a hovel nor a palace, but a respectable place of abode, owned by the residents themselves, with locally available and affordable facilities and amenities.

So how is that Vision to be brought to reality? We need a Mission for R4D. And I volunteer this Mission: Cultivate public-private partnerships.

The Strategy of course is to: Create inclusive profit-oriented enterprises for families in the whole village.

Now comes the marketing of the Corp Plan itself, to 3 sectors: (a) within the R4D institute itself, (b) among public-private partners, and (c) the mass media. So now you work out things with AIDA. Remember, the most important and interesting thing in the Corp Plan is the iPOD.

(a) AIDA within the R4D institute

Now then, like Apple’s iPod, our iPOD must be sold to the initial target consumers, in this case the leaders and staff of our favorite R4D institute. They cannot market to others outside the institute what they don’t know anything about.

For Awareness: The message is that there is a new Corp Plan for the R4D institute, and it can be summarized in 2,000 words, about 4 to 5 pages. Subsequent Awareness messages can explain the Corp Plan bit by bit based on the summary, so it has to be a good summary: Comprehensive, Coherent, Concise, and Clear.

For Interest: So, how does the Corp Plan affect institute relationships with you as top management? With you as middle management? As staff? As rank and file?

For Desire: What does the Corp Plan mean in terms of success for the institute? What’s in it for you?

For Action: List down the corporate expectations from each employee of the institute. And the expectations of the employees from the institute based on the Corp Plan.

I suggest a workshop of 4 half-day AIDA sessions for the staff of your institute.

(b) AIDA among the public-private partners

After that, the target buyers of your iPOD are your public-private partners in R4D. How do you convince them of the value of the iPOD?

I suggest, among other things, a brochure of 4 parts, the design of which you must consider what you already know: AIDA. Reminder: It must also be written and designed to follow the 4 Cs; it must be Comprehensive, Coherent, Concise, and Clear.

Awareness: What’s the iPOD all about, and how can it relate to you as a local government unit? As a donor? As a private firm?

Interest: How can you accommodate the iPOD in your operations as a local government unit, donor, private firm?

Desire: If you were actively involved, what benefits can the iPOD give you as a local government unit? As a source of funds? As a private firm?

Action: Visit places in Africa or Asia where the iPOD is now actually working for the benefit of the poorest of the poor villagers in the drylands.

(c) AIDA for the mass media

Your next targets for your iPOD are the mass media. They are the ones who will bring your message(s) to the masses not economically reachable by you alone.

For Awareness: Release the summary of the Corp Plan as initial offering to the mass media. Let them create their own stories out of that material.

For Interest: Point out successful examples of iPOD in practice in Africa, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and China.

For Desire: Invite some media people to those iPOD places. Produce videos and podcasts of those iPOD places for release to radio and TV stations as well as the Internet.

For Action: Create a handful of media awards for outstanding performance in the interest of the concept of the iPOD.

Advice #3: Get a clearinghouse working for you.

So, how do you organize your Think Tank for C4D to market your Corp Plan? You may or may not need a Think Tank, but I’m sure you will need a clearinghouse. You don’t have to call it a clearinghouse, but it must be a system in place that handles the input, throughput and output.

You will of course use any combination of media yourself to reach the mass media outside of your institute: dedicated website, intranet, blogs, social media, email, videos, audios, online newsletters, media releases, thought-outs etc. The more you need a clearinghouse.

Now then, consider:
What specific parts of the overall message goes to where?
Are we in the Interest stage yet?
Do we need humor or what?
What about dramatizing actual experiences?
Don’t we have too many testimonials already?
Show, don’t tell!
What’s the latest feedback?
Why do we spend 2 weeks producing each issue of the newsletter?
Who will blog?
What language, what style?
Who will check on the translations?

Your clearinghouse will put some order to the madness. And I don’t think your clearinghouse can work out well if it’s ad hoc, improvised, impromptu.

Learn from Philippine President Noynoy Aquino - he has a clearinghouse for communication: 1st part to receive, 2nd part to process including do research, 3rd part to release. In governing the country as well as in marketing knowledge, you have to get your act together.

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