And… Action! Writing an effective call to action
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Friday, March 08, 2013
By Sandy Puc'
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There are a lot of important elements to any marketing piece, whether it's a website home page, a mailer, an email, a blog post, a newsletter, a flier, a poster and so on. Each one will have a call to action.

Unlike Hollywood, there are no second takes. The call to action must be effective or the entire marketing effort fails, no matter how attractive the design, how eye catching the sample portraits or how effectively they are distributed. What a good call to action? A good one will follow each of these guidelines:



This is a big one. Most photographers simply want their potential client to pick up the phone to learn more. That's the goal of almost all marketing pieces. Sure some might be to direct people to your website or social media profile. Others might be inviting them to an event. I'm not saying that a phone call is the only call to action, but it's by far and away the most common for a photographer.

If you aren't specific enough, your call to action will have dramatically lower impact. For example:


Update your family's memories with only the best. Xxx-xxx-xxxx


This lacks almost every specific. While most people would get the impression that this is inviting a phone call, there's less of a chance that one will result from such a vague statement. A good call to action will be in the form of a command. It might sound strange, but it does work incredibly well.


Call to reserve your session today. Xxx-xxx-xxxx


This covers the who, what, when. The where should be in the marketing somewhere, even if it's just your studio address. It should be more prominent if there is a special location or if it's an event, but for a traditional in-studio campaign it's not as essential. The why? That's where good design and samples come in, along with enticing copy. But as far as the call to action goes, this is crystal clear.



In the previous example, you can see that the specific example was also the shorter of the two. This is another characteristic of a good call to action. Though it's tempting to add all the answers and glitz things up a bit, you only have a few precious moments of your reader's attention and the more long-winded you become, the less effective you will be. To demonstrate:


Call to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our friendly and experienced photographers. We'll answer all your questions, showcase some of our work, provide pricing options and create a customized session plan that is perfect for you! Xxx-xxx-xxxx


Yikes. It does sound good, but only if you take the time to read the whole thing. Today, people really don't like to wade through a lot of text, particularly in ads. So the most important part of your marketing pieces (the call to action) must be the most concise. A simple:


Call to schedule a complimentary consultation today. Xxx-xxx-xxxx


…is much more ideal. Not only does it sound less desperate, but it also gives you a chance to share some of the details in the first example over the phone. When they call, this is the time to talk up the pre-session consultation and its many virtues. You can't rush these things.



In the previous example, I didn't make it very personal. It's short and specific, but a little cold. By changing one word, the command takes on a more friendly tone:


Call to schedule your complimentary consultation today. Xxx-xxx-xxxx


Now it's not just a consultation, it's already theirs. Theirs for the taking. For other call to actions, you will need to sit back and consider what you want them to do and how to phrase it so that it's clear, specific and really inviting. It's not easy, but this is the one sentence that you should take the most time to craft.

People read things quickly, yet they do take in what they see on a deeper level. So the wording you use is important and it can enhance the outcomes of your campaigns quite a bit.

For an event, where the call to action is just to come, embed it throughout the piece with statements like:


Join us on [Date] for a…


Enjoy a day of…


Help spread hope at…


The commands are friendly: to take part, to enjoy, to spread hope, etc.

For social media, your call to action might include a carrot. For instance:


Like us on Facebook for fantastic giveaways, session highlights and more!


Contact Information

Sadly, there are times when even a seasoned photographer can forget to include the very VERY most important thing in their call to action… their own phone number! This should never be forgotten, but it's easy to get lost in the details of the design, the composition, the content and the samples. Make sure that your phone number is directly after the call to action every time.

If you are looking for likes on Facebook, or something other than a call, use a QR code to direct them right to the page. They can be generated for free at a variety of websites. You simply paste the desired link and download a unique QR code. It's simple to include and has become more and more of a norm on all kinds of marketing.



By putting the call to action near the end of the marketing piece, accentuating it with a larger font size and different font style than the body of the text (perhaps a different, complementing color) you will instantly bolster the outcome of your campaign. A tiny call to action with the phone number printed on a different spot or not at all will really ding you.

See the difference?



That said, with a big call to action and phone number, it never hurts to include other contact information as well. This can be more discreet, but usually will include your studio name, address and website. Try to look at each and every marketing piece as a type of business card. If there's no contact information or it's too difficult to find or read, what's the point?

Take these elements into consideration next time you craft a marketing campaign. Over time, they will become more natural. Don't be surprised if most of your call-to-actions look very similar. That's just fine. No need to mess with a good thing. If they are specific, short, personal, contain contact information and are prominently displayed, you're good to go.


Remember, it's your movie. You're the star. You've got the lights, the camera and a good call to action!

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