Acronym Cta As Call To ActionAdvertising and marketing programs are supposed to generate results – measurable results.

Too often, we forget that.

Too often, we are led down the path of brand building and product awareness.  We are seduced by creative ads, clever headlines and eye-grabbing graphics.

And when we do, our results – and the strategies we use to generate those results – take a back seat.

If that’s okay with you, then the common-sense advice that follows will have little meaning to you.

But if you believe the primary goal of your advertising and marketing is to produce leads, sales, website visitors, store traffic or donations, then this simple change of approach can go a long way in producing better results.

What is the Call to Action?

The Call to Action is exactly what it sounds like.  It is the point in your ad, direct mail piece, email or other promotion when you ask the reader to do something.

Download a whitepaper.  Request a brochure or catalog.  Schedule a demonstration.  Place an order.  Make a donation.

The Call to Action is made up of two parts – (1) the offer, what the readers will get if they respond, and (2) the response channels, how the readers can respond to obtain the offer.

Click here to download our white paper.  Call today to schedule a demonstration.  Visit our store to redeem this coupon.  Call or click to request a free consultation.

Often the Call to Action will come with some conditions.

Call before June 30.  Sale ends Sept. 1.  Free shipping for orders above $25.

So where do you put the Call to Action?

If you look at most sales letters and ads, you are likely to see the Call to Action spelled out in the exact same place:

At the bottom – often in the very last line of the text.

To learn more about XYZ Company, call today for a …

To see this product in action, schedule a demonstration …

Think about this for a moment.

The Call to Action is the single most important element in generating response.  And yet it gets buried at the bottom of most sales letters and ads.

Tell me how that makes sense.

Here’s an idea

Why not flip the Call to Action so it appears at the top – where it can be seen?

Why not lead with the offer, then build a case for taking the action?

Better yet, why not highlight your Call to Action with a visual – an illustration or photo?

If you’re using a sales letter package, promote the Call to Action on all the pieces of the package – the letter, envelope and reply card.

If you are using a postcard, put the Call to Action on both sides.

If you are using an ad, set off the Call to Action in a box or in a dotted line coupon.  You might even make the whole ad about the Call to Action.

I know what you’re thinking …

We have a story to tell and that’s our first priority.  The Call to Action is just the next step.

But in fact the Call to Action is what you’re selling at this point in the sales process.

You’re trying to move prospects from Point A to Point B. Too often, your story just gets in the way.

Once you capture the lead, however, you will have plenty of opportunity to tell your story – and your audience will be much more receptive at that point.

About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."