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Don’t Forget A Call To Action!

It never ceases to amaze me the number of ads that completely forget a call to action. The #1 rule of good advertising is tell potential customers what action you want them to take. ‘Click Here For More Information’, ‘Buy This Product Now’, ‘Sign Up Today’, etc… Don’t be shy about it either. Whether you’re running an ad on TV, in a newspaper, or placing a banner online, make sure to always include a call to action.

I’ve worked in advertising long enough now that I pay attention to (and judge) ads by default. I was looking through a portfolio today and while many of the ads I saw were good, I came across many that could use work including this one:

The ad asks us a question – Intel or AMD, then gives us some specs, a price and a website – ZipServers. Here’s what they don’t do – they don’t tell us clearly what they’re advertising and they don’t tell us what we should do now that we’ve noticed their ad. There’s really no reason to click on this banner.

A lot of designers get so caught up in the form of the banner – how does it look, Is it attractive, Do the colors match, etc… That they forget about the function. Banner ads are designed to do one thing and one thing only – generate a click. Keeping that in mind, the banner should be designed to get the attention of a prospective customers and get them interested enough in our product or service that they CLICK on the banner. Use a soft presell, tell them what you’re offering, and then tell them what action you want them to take.

Here’s another banner from the same portfolio that is much better:

Not only does it look good, but it tells us who they are – Globat, it gives us their mission statement/unique selling proposition – web hosting made easy, It tells us their pricing, and it uses a button design telling us to ‘sign up now’. It even throws in some freebies – free domain and free setup. If I were in the market for web hosting I would definitely give them a look.

TV commercials are the most negligent form of advertising when it comes to calls to action. TV advertisers say that their ads aren’t working because of Tivo. I say their ads aren’t working because they’re trying to be so clever, unique, and funny that they leave out the call to action. This commercials is a great example:

I dig the commercial. I can relate to the protagonist. But how about if he opened up and said “dude, try a bud light” to the guy at the end. Otherwise it’s just funny. Now I know what you’re thinking – anyone who watches that commercial knows that it’s a commercial for Bud Light. Of course, but don’t discount the power of suggestion. The commercial is funny, but it doesn’t make me want to buy the product. The last time I bought beer I didn’t think – hey, I should try Bud Light, it’s been a while. Nope, nothing.

In closing, if you want to make sales, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. Potential customers have so many distractions (both online and off) that if you’re lucky enough to catch their attention for 10 seconds you can’t afford not to ask them to take action. Integrate a call to action in all of your marketing material and you will see an improvement in your sales results!

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