Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Magic Words

Today I got a snippy rebuke from a client for not including a call to action in a press ad.

Admittedly, it was an oversight - I'd sent it off in a bit of a hurry as one of the elements of a larger campaign, and I just forgot.

But it reminded me that, for quite some time, I'd deliberately left them out (I always lost of course).

In most ads, contacts like phone numbers, websites etc are already included. I'm not sure exactly what finishing your copy with "For more information call us on..." adds to that. Surely it's implicit in the idea of an ad that we want you to take up the service/purchase the product. Saying it explicitly is (1) Unnecessary and (2) Kind of patronising.

Does anyone know of any research that suggests that including a call to action actually makes a difference? Because, in the absence of any supporting evidence, or a situation where you want the prospect to do something unusual ("Attach expressions of interest to the leg of a carrier pidgeon..."), I'd still say they ought to be done away with.


Martin said...

Agree about adjectives. I can't stand them in anything other than minor doses but as you say, clients love 'em to bits.
I could count on the fingers of several hands the number of times a client has told me, via some wimpering account exec, that "the copy is a bit flat".
In other words, I'm not going ape-shit-crazy over some derisory offer that the client thinks needs bigging up.
As I told an account exec yesterday, "if the client wants me to write in a manner they consider good, then it'll be bland and patronising."

Which, bless her, she agreed with.

writer said...

I hate calls to action. It's like the client subconsciously saying: "Well, come on now, march over to the counter and BUY!" while dragging the customer by the scruff of his neck with one hand and shoving the other into his pocket to give his wallet a physical 'call to action'.

Plus: if you haven't already sold the customer in the ad, they're suddenly going to change their mind when they read the call to action? Nuts. In fact, there is no logic whatever in the notion that anyone who has not been sold during the course of reading the ad would even get as far as a call to action.

And you can print this out and stick it on your account guys' office doors.

(And pigeon doesn't have a 'd'. I'm a pedant, but a nice pedant.)

(writer from theadvertisingagency.blogspot - because blogger won't show my URL)

Cleaver said...

Quite right. I spotted that, but it seemed somehow dishonest to go back and change it.

I'm not sure of the etiquette surrounding these things.

Stan Lee said...

I can't believe a post questioning the value of the CTA didn't generate a rash of responses from hardened veterans of the direct marketing world.


Cleaver said...

To be honest Stan, I'd love somebody to disagree with me here.

In years of drafting these stupid things, I've never had someone give me a reason why they need to be there that extends beyond "we always do a call to action" or "research says".

Neither of those, in my book, amounts to an argument.

Charlie Bass said...

Sorry, I'll have to disappoint you and agree with you as well. 'Well, because we've always done it'.

You say 'in years of drafting these things..' so you must have become bored at some point and been able to turn 'for more information call...' into something a little more inventive by now, no? Go on, let us in on your secret...