Telling Your Customers What to Do

by Colette Connolly, Connolly Communications

As entrepreneurs, many of us are gun shy about telling our customers what to do. We believe in letting them make their own purchasing decisions when they are good and ready.

It may sound egotistical, but if you’re confident in your ability to deliver a high-quality product or service, why let your competitors beat you to the bargaining table? Many businesses leave the decision-making entirely up to the prospective customer, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

In his book, Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide, author John Jantsch says the “call-to-action” is an essential part of marketing one’s business. He believes you must tell your existing and prospective customers what to do now. Make it easy for them to take the next step, and offer them several ways to either take advantage of a special offer or to simply access your website or contact you by using a toll-free phone number.

Let’s take a direct mail piece as an example. Perhaps the most effective call-to-action element is the headline. Spend time thinking about the words you will write, and as Jantsch suggests, you should pretend you are writing the headline (and the entire direct mail piece, for that matter) for just one prospect. You want to use pronouns like you and your instead of their and them. It’s much easier to persuade one person than it is to persuade several.

Even though it’s being sent to hundreds, possibly thousands, of prospective customers, your direct mail piece will be read by only one person at a time. Don’t try to make it clever. Rather, create headlines that get to the point, use action verbs and try to include a number in your headline. Readers love it when you give them a limited number of ways to do something. It somehow gives them a reassuring feeling that the solution is doable in just a few steps, rather than overwhelming readers with a slew of information that will only confuse them.

The surest way that a call-to-action strategy will work is if you keep your readers’ attention. Give them enough tantalizing, well-written information to keep them on the page, to get them more interested in what you have to offer, and above all, to give them inspiration to do something, hopefully by using your product and/or service.

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