Start with the call to action at the end

We all know that the difference between a good marketing campaign and a great one is the “call to action”, although few of us can say we don’t have room for improvement there. Decent offers are the first step, or at least explaining to the prospect what will happen if they respond to the call to action. At the simplest level, don’t just say “call us” when you can say “call us and we’ll explain how our widgets can save you money”, or “call us and we’ll send you our ’10 secrets to better design with widgets’ brochure”. I was thinking about this myself when I read my articles earlier in the week about Google AdWords. Almost as an afterthought, I’d added something like: “oh, and if you’re interested in doing a Google AdWords campaign, let us know”.

Well, at least it was something. At least I said we offered a service here, and hinted that it was worth using because it’s a lot less effort on your part to have us do it for you. But really, it was a pretty half-hearted call to action, even for something which wasn’t primarily a sales document. I can list half a dozen really terrific reasons why you should give us a load of money to run a Google AdWords campaign for you tomorrow, but I didn’t. And why? Because by the time I got to the end bit, I just wanted to move on to the next item in my to-do list, and didn’t pay enough attention to the most important part of the whole exercise.

The lesson to be learned therefore is that if you’re producing something which will have a call-to-action at the end of it, start with that part, while you’re at your most enthusiastic. And think: if I can’t deliver something worthwhile, why am I even doing this in the first place? If I want to do something for you, that will involve upsetting the status quo at your end: that’s the nature of most supplier-customer transactions. So if I’m expecting you to make an effort, even if it’s likely to benefit you, I need to provide something in return. To bring the whole subject to a neat close, one of the best things Google AdWords offers you is straightforward measurability and the chance to test things. If you have theories on what makes a great call to action, it’s a fabulous way to test them out and put real numbers on them.

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