Editorial: Clear & Simple Call to Action

Jeffrey Hedquist 2013By:  Jeffrey Hedquist
Hedquist Productions, Inc.

Clients, advertising agencies, producers, broadcasters, and writers – have all (me included) done it. It’s a common, but detrimental mistake:

Including more than one call to action in a commercial.

Multiple call to actions can work in print and can occasionally work on TV, but attempting it on radio can delete your effectiveness.

It happens when we mistakenly assume that people are poised, writing instruments in hands, awaiting the vital information that will change their lives. Most of your listeners are engaged in other activities – driving, talking on their cell phones, working, cooking, performing craniotomies…

Giving them a choice of ways to respond is a bad idea.

Hopefully your message is compelling enough to make them want to respond. Now, make it easy for them.

When you’re advertising consumer products, the task is fairly easy. These products are usually available at many locations. People need only ask for the item or have the message that you’ve reinforced in the commercial brought to mind at the point of purchase.

With other kinds of advertisers there are several response vehicles to consider. The listener can call, vote, write a letter, visit a location, attend an event (concert, seminar, free demonstration), or visit a website. Often, in an attempt to cover the bases, we include them all. It’s like throwing several objects to someone simultaneously. Rather than catch even one, they’ll lose focus and catch none. Toss just one object to them and they’ll probably catch it.

You only have 60, 30, 15,10, or 5 seconds to elicit a response. Don’t confuse your audience. Narrow their choice of responses to one.

Only minutes ago, I left the recording studio having recorded a series of radio spots for a major national advertiser created by a large international advertising agency. The spots included two calls to action: a 10-digit phone non-memorable number and a moderately long URL. Both repeated twice. In my not-so-humble opinion, including both will reduce their response rate significantly, but in this instance; I was only the hired voice, not the advertising consultant.

If a website and/or telephone call (this should be rare) are the only ways for a prospect to respond, then create and air two versions – one with the phone number and one with the URL. See which pulls more responses. It’ll usually be the one with the website.

Don’t include both in the same commercial. Dividing the mind will divide your results.

Here’s one way to tell me if this was useful and what you’d like to hear about in the future: email jeffrey@hedquist.com.

© 1997-2016 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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