It’s Only Common Sense: Your Ads Need a Call to Action!


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Do you advertise? Do you spend a lot of your hard-earned dollars trying to get your name out there, only to feel that you are just throwing your money down a rabbit hole? Are you constantly asking yourself, “What are my ads doing for me?” Do you say, “I can’t think of a single order I’ve gotten from advertising.” I’m sure you do, because this is something I hear all the time. People are continually frustrated by the lack of results from their advertising.

So, at their request, I will take a look at their ads and most of the time I can quickly identify exactly why their ads are not working. The answer is very simple: Their ads don’t say anything!

They don’t promote anything that will get their customers to take action. Their ads do nothing to provoke their customers. Their ads are just there. The ads just lie there like a beached whale, saying nothing more than “We are in business.”

Sure, their ads have the company name and address, the link to their website and often a lame claim like “We’re the best! High-quality stuff at great prices!” Maybe they’ll say something like “Incomparable service!” Doesn’t that make you want to run out and buy what they are selling?

Man, they don’t even have a branding slogan. It’s as if they’re just standing behind the counter, arms folded, just waiting for those customers to come barging through the front door. Well, guess what, folks: That’s not the way it works.

Ads like these are comparable to the salesperson who visits a customer and just leaves his business card and a brochure, and does nothing else. Guess what? Nothing is going to happen. There is no call to action. How do we expect the customer to take action when we have not even told him what action to take?

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, the next time you look at a trade magazine or web-zine (because I’m talking about business-to-business sales here), look at the ads and you’ll see what I mean. Most of them say nothing. They are just there. Many times, even if a person wanted to buy from the company that is advertising, he would not even know how to go about it, never mind choose one particular company over another.

Here is some very simple advice. Do not spend advertising dollars unless you have something to say. Do not spend any more money on advertising until you seriously study the market and know what kind of customer you want to attract, and who your target audience is.  And for heaven’s sake, do not spend another advertising penny until you have studied the market and crafted a message that is going to make your company stand out. And please, please, do not spend any more money on advertising until you know exactly what you want to offer to provoke your target audience to do something. You must develop a call to action first.

Yes, a call to action. Something that is going to move those target customers to do something. You may want them to check out your website to learn more about your company, or take advantage of a great promotion you’re offering. Make sure your ad has a call to action that is going to make your potential customers take that action.

Offer a two-for-one deal, or an extra service; make an introductory offer, or offer something of value (something that you know your target customers want) for free with every order. In other words, in make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Look, it’s not that difficult. You are already in business. You already have customers. You know already the kinds of things that your customers want. So, design your advertising call to action based on that information.

Are you worried about a financial promotion like this hurting your bottom line? If you think that you can’t afford to offer a discount, consider this:

  • According to common sales data, a normal out-of-the-car sales call costs over $500 when you consider all aspects of that call, from the salesperson’s salary and expenses to your literature and other marketing materials. Yes, over $500 and climbing.
  • The same sales data tell us that the cost of gaining a new customer these days is around $10,000. That’s right; it’s about ten grand to pick up a new account. Thousands of dollars just to get a company to try you out…at least once.

So, with that in mind you have to ask yourself: How much would you pay for a new customer? When you decide what kind of provocative financial promotion you are going to insert in your advertising, I think in the end you’ll find that it could be the best and most economical marketing decision you make.

And yes, if you bring your advertising to life with the right offer, with the right promotion and the right call to action, your advertising will work and your business will grow. It’s only common sense.

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