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Calls to Action in Communication Campaigns

Non-profit organizers and for-profit marketers are tasked with essentially the same thing: deliver calls to action (CTAs) that not only influence, but ultimately, adjust your constituents' or customers' behavior to your organization's end goal. For example, you might ask people to visit your website, attend a rally, vote for your candidate or download your whitepaper, not as end goals in themselves, but as part of a campaign to get people to buy your product or service or to attend your school or event; to chose your brand and offerings.

Your goal

No matter your organization's agenda, the goal of your communication campaign(s) must be clear and your CTAs aligned with the strategies to reach that goal.

Take a look at this video. American Express uses the verb "rallied" and phrase "reached out" when really discussing the CTAs in their campaign that helped them reach their ultimate goal: make Small Business Saturday an official shopping day during the holiday season.

It's really about trust ...

No doubt Amex made multiple requests to get those partners, customers and officials on board. You have to allow people opportunities to get to know you and incorporate what you have to offer into their memes, their ways of believing and acting, to build trust and relationship. Many marketers are impatient with this step thinking one ad, one press release or one bulk email should be enough. Non-profits and the public sector especially make this mistake since resources are often very limited. Frankly, even love at first sight hardly ever results in one date before marriage. Most likely American Express hit some skepticism in this campaign that they had to overcome with multiple CTAs.

... from the people you need

Note that Amex was keenly aware of with whom they would collaborate (business owners, consumers and public officials) and who the ultimate end-user of their services would be (the small business owners) -- their audiences. I don't have to elaborate here.

What are their goals and values?

The pledge that American Express had consumers sign was actually a way to build loyalty, participant recognition and leads. Political organizations have used this tactic for years. Pledges, petition cards, online customer information forms, etc. are avenues for participants to take action and publicly state their beliefs. These CTAs are often coupled with social currency, further enforcing the value of the participant's action and their connection to your organization (brand value). It's an interesting twist however, when it's Amex seeking your activism.

So, what if the customer, like the shops in the Amex video have goals of financial gain? Check out John Eighmey's How Advocacy is Marketing slide deck (ignore the address to educational institutions - this applies to your organization too). The road to a material or value-based goals is similar:

Timing is critical

You have to know the mindset, budget cycle and very importantly, and as stated, the needs of the people to whom your talking. American Express centered their campaign around the time of the year that can make or break many small businesses and when customers are in the spending mood. When do your people need your help?

What was also interesting were the digital tools Amex offered the small businesses, recognizing the "pain points" of their customers. What tools do your constituents or customers need to be successful and can you get them to your people when they need them?

I just got a call the night before my primary election to help me find my new polling place, to answer any questions I might have and to send me to an informative website. The timing was perfect, so were the tools. Often people don't know the issues and sometimes candidates like judicial, in primaries. I'm thinking these people knew that ... they were calling from a candidate's headquarters.

Offering calls to action with tools at the time your customer needs them, is key. If you don't have an idea who your constituents are, you might as well send me whatever money you planned on spending. That would be equally as fruitful for you and exemplifies how important this research piece is.

Results -- with data

Pledges and similar CTAs can be used to build databases and the results are measurable. All along your campaign you should be able to measure your customer and constituent responses, not only to know if your campaign is relevant, but to know what communication channels are most effective. These days that means digital. The investment in digital is worth it. You will actually have the capability to have your customers inform the campaign through their feedback (data) and you'll spend less time on "guesswork" with inadequate results and misspent money.

Finally, the question people whisper: Are you ready?

What if your calls to action are hugely successful? Can your company handle the influx of orders, is your venue big enough or do you have the capital available to adapt to a higher than expected response rate? Too much interest can sometimes be as bad as too little. Hopefully your calls to action and their associated behavioral responses are a perfect marriage for your success.

Want to talk more about CTAs? Drop me a note.

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