There are many parallels between sales and marketing models and adult education.
Most marketing and sales models are actually models of change. Similarly, learning is change, and I would argue that most of the useful frameworks that have been developed by the marketing industry are directly applicable to adult learners.
One such formula is the Attention Interest Desire Action (AIDA) framework. My suggestion would be to use this to design strategic content pieces or concise microlearning experiences.
When used in this way, this is super effective for designing for adults in particular because it gives them a reason to care and provides a path forward in a clear and engaging structure.
Let’s think of writing a video script as part of a safety course for example. Let’s say the goal of the course is to reduce common workplace injuries. You want to start your learning experience with a motivating and engaging piece of content that will give your learners the “why” to go ahead and actively participate in the rest of the course. Maybe you will include this in a pre-training e-mail or an intro module.
In this example, I would use AIDA like this to structure out my script:
First, grab their attention. Learning first and foremost requires drawing your learner’s attention to your content. You want to evoke the response “oh really??” or “what’s this all about??”
You can generate some ideas by asking yourself “what’s unusual or surprising about this topic?” or considering how your audience currently tends to think about the topic and coming up with a meaningful reframe.
This works because our brains are pattern recognition masters, by the time we’re adults we’re surprised less and less. Breaking patterns draws attention. This is especially important when it comes to a topic your learners may have already taken several courses on before like health and safety. You can also use this to your advantage, because people generally have very low expectations of what this type of content looks and feels like.
For this example, this might be something like a ridiculously high statistic people aren’t aware of like “there were 186,000 traumatic injuries at workplaces in Canada last year” or a reframe like “In our line of work, people worry about dying. The truth is, we’re much more likely to be seriously injured” to gain attention through loss aversion.
Next, you want to anchor their focus by going a little bit deeper. Give them some more valuable information, with the desired response at this stage being “I want to know more”. You want to provide the foundation for them to generate intrinsic motivation. This is where you might introduce the role they play or share how the topic can benefit them.
In this example, this could look like “Most of these injuries are completely preventable. There are 4 key steps you can take to keep yourself and your team safe at work.”
This stage is about tapping into their desire to change or learn that you’ve drummed up in the first two steps. Once you have their focused attention and interest, you want to provide them with a path forward. Connect their goals to your learning experience or call to action. This could be a quick introduction to the course or an overview of what they will learn to get them excited about how it will help them accomplish their goals. In this example, I might outline the steps in the safety model being introduced and let them know they can learn the actions of each step in the course.
Finally, this is where you ask them to take a specific action. No need to overcomplicate this step, be clear and give them all the information they need to take the next step. This means using actionable verbs and providing clear hyperlinks, QR codes, or whatever else is needed to move forward. In a learning context, this might be something like registering for a webinar, moving onto the next lesson, or taking a survey.