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Saturday, December 20, 2008

What to Do When Your Customers Don't Hear Your Call to Action

For many small business owners, email is an important marketing
tool. Email helps you keep in touch with customers and prospects,
it allows you to demonstrate how you help customers thereby
building credibility, and email leads to more sales.

When done well, email is an awesome guerrilla marketing tool.

"Done Well" doesn't mean you have absolute killer copy. In my
experience you can have a well-written, relevant marketing
message and still blow it when it comes to getting readers to
take action. If no one in your audience takes action, what's the

The Marketing Message and the Call to Action

A well-crafted marketing message addresses the following:

1. Who the message is meant for (example: real estate brokers)
and the problem (hard to sell homes in bad economy)

2. What they've tried to solve the problem (example: more
advertising, open houses, etc)

3. Why what they tried doesn't work (example: open houses
attract people who aren't really serious about buying)

4. What they need to do (strategies to better screen for serious

5. Why you are well qualified to solve their problems
(experience, track record, education, etc.)

6. Call to action (specific steps folks reading your message
should take to work with you)

This article focuses on #6. Reason being I see so many mistakes
made with the Call to Action and unfortunately, if you don't
have a strong call to action, you'll lose a lot of genuinely
interested prospects.

Example: Call to Action -- Done Badly

Let's say you're the real estate broker reading through the
message I outlined. You've been struggling because it's taking
so long to sell the homes you have listed. Now you're hopeful.
This company seems to have a solution for your problem. Great!
You want to know more. The call to action is: "Contact Dave

I see this type of Call to Action all the time. Seems nice and

Yet, statistics show most people don't follow through on these
requests. Why? Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. Are
you stressed? Yes, probably. Now I know when I get stressed out
the simplest decision can feel overwhelming. That "simple" call
to action, "contact Dave" is actually requiring me to do
something out of my daily routine: to contact Dave. In addition,
I have to make a bunch of decisions including:

1. When should I contact Dave? Now? No, what if he calls me and
makes a sales pitch. I don't want to deal with that.

2. What should I say in my email? Should I introduce myself? Talk
about the problem. How much information do I need to provide?

3. Do I even want to contact this Dave guy? What if this is a
scam. Maybe Dave is really a nefarious hacker collecting emails
so he can steal my identity!

4. and so on.

Your simple call to action is not so simple.

Requirements for an Effective Call to Action

So if a simple "call Dave" isn't enough information, what does
it take?

To get someone reading your message to take the next step, you
need to provide enough information for your reader to see how the
action fits within their current situation. Ways to help your
readers fit your request in include:

When to contact
How to contact
What to ask for
What to expect when they contact you

Example: Call to Action -- Makeover

Let's go back to the message written to realtors looking for
sales help. Our realtor is feeling stressed and discouraged
because the slow economy means it takes her twice as long to sell
homes. She reads the marketing message from Dave and Co, and it
looks like Dave can help. She wants to know more and reads this
call to action.

"Get our free 10-page report, 'Secrets to Sales Success in
Tough Markets.' Call toll-free 1-800-555-1234 and leave your
name and mailing address. You'll receive your report within 7
business days. If you call before January 15, we'll include our
special guide, '50 Tips for Presenting a House to Sell.'" Like
the earlier version, this message is short and to the point. But
it also provides important details that give the reader the
structure need to take action:

* Exactly what to do (call a 1-800 number and leave mailing
* What they'll get (a free 10-page report)
* When to do it (by January 15 to get the report and bonus
* What to expect (they'll get the report within 7 business

Other simple details that make call to actions more effective
include maps, driving directions, hours of operation, special
discount codes, and coupons.

Bottom Line

If the marketing message on your website, brochure, postcard, or
ad is well-done but the number of people responding to your offer
is dismal, take a look at your call to action. Adding a few
simple details that help your prospects understand how taking
action fits into their life may be all it takes to turn your
offer from "OW" to "WOW."

Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost,
effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals,
guerrilla marketing activities, and five-star strategic alliances.
To download a free copy of the workbook, "Where Does it Hurt?
Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers
Crazy!" go to
You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or

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