Why Didn’t You Just Do It? You Never Asked.

After a week-long trial, a prosecutor makes a point to ask jurors for a guilty verdict during her closing argument.

At the end of a speech in the closing days of a campaign, a well-known politician formally asks for your vote, even though he’s been in office for a decade.

When a university foundation executive wraps up lunch with a wealthy alumni couple, she boldly makes her request for the level of contribution she’s seen them give elsewhere.

It’s all about the close.

Or as we say in marketing, don’t forget the “call to action.”

But before we get to that, let’s back up and review a couple of important steps leading up to the call to action in the marketing process.

Remember, we have to speak to the right people, so a good place to begin is by analyzing your existing customer base. You then decide whether to build your business by maintaining focus on that demographic or by expanding into new customer types.

The result of this process should be a clearly defined target audience. Only when you are settled on who you are talking to can you craft messages that will resonate most effectively with that group.

After businesses put effort into defining audiences and crafting the right messages to promote their products, services, and brands, it only makes sense that they want a return on that investment of time and energy.

That brings us back to your call for action. 

Call to action doesn’t necessarily mean you’re asking for a sale, but you do need a clear ask. Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Are you striving to build your audience on digital platforms? Are you generating immediate product orders or leads for future engagement?

My work often involves helping clients use storytelling to powerfully drive home marketing messages with video, animation, graphics, music, and audio. We start by talking a lot about what they hope to achieve, what actions they want people to take.

Video is a versatile tool for achieving a wide range of marketing goals. Media measurement and analytics company ComScore has found the likelihood of online purchases is 64 percent greater after potential customers view video content. Or, for those wanting to improve email response rates, the global research firm Forrester Marketing Group has measured a 200 percent increase in click-throughs on emails with embedded video.

When using video to deliver strong calls to action, we shoot for visually stimulating images and motion that elicit emotion; voiceover talent that is relatable to your target audience; music and sound that draws us into the story; and dynamic editing that brings this all to a crescendo in the end. 

You want to gain your audience’s trust, share a message, and then ask them to jump in — in response to the call to action! All of the production elements in video work together to accomplish this.

There are different call-to-action styles that can be employed depending on your goals. Here are a some of the categories we see commonly:

  1. Promo: time-sensitive sale or giveaway
  2. Novelty: announcement of new product or store opening
  3. Benefit: emphasis on one product or service feature
  4. Timely: calendar-driven holidays or special events
  5. Testimonial: customer experience-based appeal
  6. Personal Insights: enticement by surveys or quizzes
  7. Affinity: related to cultural, political, or religious views
  8. Hot Topic: spin-off of something in the news or pop culture
  9. Unique: product positioning different than others in the category
  10. Problem/Solution: the answer you’ve been looking for

Once you decide on the style you want to use for your call to action, translate the desired action into the creative expression that will actually be used in your ads. Clear, crisp, and concise language is typically the way to go.

One of Netlfix’s recent homepage ads showed a happy family relaxing on a couch in front of the TV with the simple call-to-action copy: “See what’s next. Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime.” The response button said, “Join Free for a Month.”

The pitch was uncomplicated, offering a giveaway at the same it addressed head-on the potential sales barrier related to the “risk” of a locked-in subscription. And with the family-together-at-home visual, the company managed to illustrate without words the problem/solution offered by their service in the era of quarantines.

The French vodka brand Grey Goose only needed nine words to make its point in a playful digital ad that showed a blue sky with a flock of geese in flight and the headline, “Fly Beyond.” The call-to-action button read, “Discover a Cocktail Tailored to Your Taste.”

This ad took the popular personal insights approach that appeals to modern consumers’ desire for options that feel customized to their particular tastes and personalities. These insights are often a result of customers voluntarily providing their opinions or answering questions about themselves.

When it comes to developing your calls to action, have fun exploring the various techniques and creative delivery methods such as video.

As you do, you’ll make good use of lessons learned from the prosecutor, the politician, and the fundraiser. They’re not afraid to ask.

brad burrow

Brad Burrow is co-publisher of Thinking Bigger and the founder of Real Media, a video, VFX and design firm in Overland Park, Kan.