Call To Action

Call To Action

SalesCycle_FeaturedBeing a huge football fan, of course I was sitting in front of our television on Sunday watching the Super Bowl. Besides being swept up in the excitement taking place on the field, I also anxiously anticipated every break in the action when new ads would be revealed. Once again, I was actively engaged in the annual celebration of commercial analysis. Social media makes it simple to participate in real-time conversations with other advertising and marketing professionals, each of which have their own opinion of what worked and what didn’t.

Note: In case you’re wondering, my favorite commercial of all time, in a landslide, is the Volkswagon “Mini Vadar” spot from 2011.

As usual during the most watched program of the year, marketers chose to use emotion to engage viewers. I still find this to be the most effective use of Super Bowl commercial time – since a majority of viewers are not football fans and tune in simply to watch the ads and get swept into the wave of emotions used to create connections between consumer and brand. What is always missing in these spots – and what makes newspaper advertising so effective in its own right – is a call to action.

Super Bowl commercials have one goal – to make their brand memorable by appealing to viewer’s emotions. They try to make you laugh, make you cry, shock you, impress you, disgust you – whatever it takes to ensure that you remember their brand and discuss it over the water cooler during the weeks following the game. But do you notice that the commercials never ask you to buy anything?

This is where newspaper advertising thrives as the most effective way to drive consumer traffic and impact sales at the cash register. Newspaper advertising (when desired) allows a marketer to take emotions out of the equation and simply ask consumers to make a purchase. Newspaper ads can entice you with special pricing/offers, highlight time sensitivity, include QR codes, and direct you to a retailer or to visit a website for more details.

When you sit down with your clients and devise an advertising strategy, make sure that you discuss ways that they can make their ad creative more effective by including a succinct call to action. I cannot count the number of times when I’ve had a meeting with a current or past newspaper advertiser who said “The last time I ran a newspaper ad, no one responded.” My reply is always the same – “Did your ad creative actually give the reader a reason to respond?” Some marketers expect that branding ads will deliver the same level of response as call to action ads will. This is not realistic.

As a trusted business consultant to your clients, there are three things you always want to be sure and discuss BEFORE you run any newspaper ad for them:

  1. What are the expectations for the performance of the ad? (brand awareness, increased store traffic + revenue uptick, website visits, etc.)
  2. If the expectation is increased traffic, sales, visits, etc. does the creative feature a specific call to action?
  3. How will reader response be measured?

Clearly setting expectations with your clients will make sure marketers understand that they are just as responsible for the results of an ad as your newspaper is. We can promise readership, but the marketer needs to take responsibility for what is being seen and how the readers are being asked to respond.

Have a terrific week,

If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at (612) 278-0223 or