Never Underestimate the Power of a Call-to-Action

coke truck

I felt compelled to write this post after the Seahawks manhandled Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Apart from Seahawks fans, most everyone I talked to was, of course, disappointed with the game, but a lot of people were disappointed with the commercials, too, which are often as entertaining as the game itself. Several friends and colleagues thought the ads this year were, overall, a little lackluster,  and not necessarily as edgy, funny, or outrageous in years past.

Whether you liked the ads or not, one thing in particular that I noticed was that almost none of them had a clear call to action for the viewer: “Drink Coca-Cola.” “Drive an Audi.” “Buy Budweiser.” You’ve showed me your product, now, what do you want me to DO about it? Go to a store? Visit a website? Take a test-drive? There may be exceptions, but from what I saw (and what I remember I saw) during last night’s game, there were no ads that gave viewers a CLEAR next-step to take after seeing their ad.

Maybe it’s different for the Super Bowl, where big budgets abound, and the purpose may be to entertain first, and sell second, but that’s not a strategy I agree with, in any situation. Every ad’s job — by definition — is to drive revenue for the advertiser.  And I believe no advertiser — especially small, local businesses who have smaller non-Super-Bowl-sized budgets — should take for granted that viewers will instinctively know what to do when they see your ad. Actions may be implied, “It’s a commercial for Budwesier. They must want me to drink Budwesier.” But why not say it? Why have an ad where anything is “implied?” If the goal is to bring people into your store, then tell people, “Come to our store.” Besides, it’s a great way to measure results of your campaign. If the call to action in your ad is, “Visit our website,” and your web traffic is up, the ad is working. If the call to action is, “Stop by our showroom,” and store traffic is down, maybe your message needs to be strengthened, or the call to action reevaluated.

As a business owner, every ad you run, be it during the Super Bowl, the local news, or on KLPX, “Classic Rock that Really Rocks,” is an opportunity to tell your story, and build a connection with your next customer. It’s also an invitation you make to that next customer to deepen that connection, and strengthen that relationship: “Hey, here’s why we need each other… Now come see us.” But there has to be a clear call to action. There has to be a “what next.”

So, what next? Send me an e-mail, and let’s talk about how I can help you tell your business’ story, in your voice.

At Slater’s Garage Ads & Audio, we help small businesses put a unique voice to their marketing through a combination of audio, video and social media. To find out how we can help you bring your marketing to life, contact us today.

Photo: Kevin Trotman



3 Responses to Never Underestimate the Power of a Call-to-Action

  1. I think the bulk of the companies that can afford to advertise during the Super Bowl are at the level where their greatest concern is raising brand awareness as opposed to trying to generate a specific sales activity. Coke doesn’t want to implore you to drink a Coke RIGHT NOW (though, if you DO have a Coke and a smile, you’ll be drinking The Real Thing!), but they are focused on embedding their brand into your consciousness and creating its identity there, so that when you are in a particular situation (or many, depending on the product), their brand name is recalled in your head first and loudest.

    No one, at this point, is concerned with making sure Brett knows that Coca Cola is a beverage and you can drink it, but they are concerned that when you find yourself in a certain situation and want a drink, your subconscious tells you that Coke is really what you want.

    But now I’m just rambling, so I’ll shut up now.

    • Great comment, Ed, thanks. I agree 100% (except about the rambling. You’re not, I assure you). Most (if not all) Super Bowl ads fall into that “image” category, but I don’t always think that’s a viable category. I think all advertising’s job is to sell, and “image” or “name recognition” spots leave quite a bit on the table. Granted, the Cokes and Chryslers of the world can afford that kind of campaign.

      This post and its sentiments are mainly geared toward smaller local businesses who don’t have the kind of budget to strictly do a “branding campaign,” per se… For local advertisers, every second of air time is precious, so messages have to be crafted with a specific sales goal in mind for the campaign.

      And yes, top-of-mind awareness is absolutely a goal, as well. But that’s a goal that can be better obtained with a more frequent campaign… In other words, if I were a Coke or some other brand that could afford a spot during the Super Bowl, I’d rather that $4 million went to airing more ads over a longer period, as opposed to one ad during a game that a lot of people shut off at halftime.

      Again, it’s a little different with brands that are as ubiquitous as Coca Cola, but I think it’s true of any advertising: The more times a message is repeated, the more likely it is to be remembered.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, my man! Love the discussion!

      • Agreed! Small businesses struggle enough with getting people to know who they are and what they do. Much like how pro ballers can spend six hundred bucks on a plain, white tee shirt – “just because” – while most of us without celebrity status and copious cashflow would spend that same money on the basics first – underwear, socks, pants, shoes, shirt and (hopefully) some deodorant.