Date Published: 14th January 2010
Author: Calvin Tan
If you want people to buy, you have to ask for the sale. Really, it is that simple. Yet it is impossible to tell you how many ads, web sites, brochures, sales letters, etc, are floating around out there that is not asking.
So, what is a call to action? It is telling people what action you wish them to take. Typical calls to action include:
Hurry in today.
Click here now.
Nothing terribly sexy, However, if you are looking to see an expansion in your buyers, leads, revenue, etc, this is an important component. However, you may be thinking, is it obvious? Why else would you be running advertisements if you did not want people to pay for what you are selling? It is true, people do
know, if they stop to think about it, that you would possibly like them to buy from you.
However, the misfortunate fact is your potential customers are not going to spend that time thinking about it. People have too many things happening in their lives that to spend that time and energy on your business.
If they do read your ad or promotional material and it does not contain a call to action, they will likely mention, “Oh, that’s nice” and go on to the next thing.
In addition, even though they were interested in buying your offerings, they may not know what their next step should be. Do they choose the phone? In fact, if they do not know what they should be doing, chances are they will not do anything at all. Therefore, you require saying your potential customers what you deserve them to do. Remember, people are full of activity, and if you do not provide a serious
business, they possibly will not do business with you at all.
So, back to the above call to actions. Did you notice they all had something in common? The word “now” or, in the case of the first one, “today”. If people think they can purchase from you anytime, they will mention, “oh, I can do this later.” In fact, later rarely comes. You require giving them a circumstance to purchase from you right now, while they are interested. Adding the “now” or some other urgency or scarcity method, maybe a limited time offer or few copies left statement is a great alternative to push people into doing what you deserve them to do right now and not later.
While we are on the topic of calls to action, think about one other kind of advertising campaign where you rarely see calls to action. These are called branding campaigns. Normally, huge corporations like MacDonald’s, Nike, Starbucks, and Target show them on national television. In those instances, the businesses are building a brand that will cause you to think of their business first when you are interested in buying their products. For example, when you are hungry, you think of MacDonald. If you require new athletic shoes, you think of Nike, and if you are dying for that cup of Joe, you will think of Starbucks, etc.
While there is nothing wrong with branding campaigns, they are tougher to track than campaigns with a special call to action, Sale ends Saturday, call before Friday to receive your free gift, etc. Those campaigns are also call direct response because you are asking the purchaser to respond literally. Direct response campaigns could be test, so you have a good idea what is employ and what is not, and can tweak the campaign accordingly. In addition, if the campaign does not require getting a salesperson involved, i.e. if the call to action is for the purchaser to whip out his wallet right there, the campaign will just run itself, and make cash all by itself.
You are require to do more than add a call to action to have a potent direct response campaign, but that does not negate the power a call to action can bring to your campaigns. Branding campaigns are closely impossible to test, track and tweak. They either appear to work or do not appear to work. In addition, if they do not appear to work, it is very complicated to start tweaking to improve the response rate.
However, branding is yet very, very important. As a business proprietary, you require a good brand and you require communicating that brand successfully. In fact, occasionally it produces sense to run a branding campaign. However for most cases is to mix branding and direct response. Your brand is communicating clearly in your ads and promotional materials, but you also exploit some direct response formulas at the same time. If nothing else, make sure you do not forget the call to action.
Want to include a call to action in your promotional materials but do not know where to start? Here is an easy systematic formula:
1. Understand your aspiration for the ad or promotional material. Why are you running this ad, establishing this web site, printing this brochure? Is it to produce leads?
2. Write it down now.
3. That is it, that is your call to action. Whatever the result you wish for the campaign is what you have to be asking people to do.