The Art of Persuasion

Call to Action is the Anchor of Your Messaging


Call to Action

Whenever you are trying to change someone’s behavior, you are trying to persuade them.  Selling products, recruiting volunteers, direct marketing, advertisements, etc. are all examples of persuasive requests.  The classic persuasive request is divided into four main steps:

  1. Get the target’s Attention

  2. Develop their Interest

  3. Create a Desire

  4. Include a Call to Action

Keep this classic process in mind whenever you are trying to convince someone to do something.  It can be used universally.  Letters, e-mail marketing (especially important), literature, ads, conversations, etc.  Let’s walk through each step and explore the role each plays in the process.

It all starts with Attention.  This is your intro.   It can be your subject line in an e-mail, the headline of an ad, etc.  If you don’t have a good “attention getter” it is game over.  You need to quickly gain control of the target’s undivided attention.  You will commonly hear there are key buzzwords to include in the intro – words like “Now”, “Save” and “Free” .  This may be the case in general, but ideally you want something that “moves” the target.  Make it count – and make it enticing or the rest of your communication is irrelevant.

Next comes the Interest part.  Assuming you succeeded in getting the target’s attention, you have stay on your game with a good followup.  After the “wow” of getting their attention, you have to develop it with some specifics.  You want the target to think “I can do that”.  Give them a little flavor as to why this is a good thing for them.  Keep them moving through your communication.  If they are a “maybe” at this point, you are on track!

Here comes the crescendo – create their Desire.  Something compelling that makes them think, I WANT THAT, or even better I NEED THAT.  At this point the target has to picture themselves doing what you want them to do.  Think of:  “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, “Just Do It”, etc.  Another appeal:  A happy family enjoying themselves in a Disney World commercial really tugs at a parent’s heartstrings.

This is where it stops for many poorly-constructed communications.  Many good messages are left incomplete without the critical Call to Action.   Without the Call to Action, you have just done an FYI.  You did not CLOSE!  Your target will think to themselves “I’ll have to remember that”.  And then promptly forget it forever.  The Call to Action takes the fuel of desire you created and ignites it!  “Act Now! only three days left.”  “Save 50% on overstock – while supplies last”.

Crafting effective messages is definitely an art.  The more you do it, the better you will get at it.  This is a good starting point.  If you follow this classic formula, you are on your way to effective messaging.

Act Now!

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