Why a phone number isn’t a call to action

[Article from the @SIMONPLENT archive:]

Art directors are the chaps (and chapesses) in advertising agencies who design the ads—in other words, they’re the ones in charge of deciding what stuff looks like—whether it’s telly, press, online or dm.

Art directors like their designs to be clean, elegant, beautiful, balanced. (They went to art college, you see, not selling school.)

This means in a press ad, for example, they’re always asking their copywriter to cut the body copy, remove what they consider extraneous words, shorten the headline and generally remove all the stuff that might, with a fair wind behind it, actually persuade somebody, somewhere, to buy something.

I’ll cover the subject of long copy vs short copy in another blog, but one of the things an art direction driven culture does is emasculate the power of The Call To Action.

The Call to Action (CTA) is the bit on your ad, website, newsletter, flyer which demands that the reader respond in some way. By calling you, by clicking through, by buying.

Anyone trained in a direct response/direct marketing or sales environment, like yours truly, knows that if you want someone to respond in some way, you have to tell them do so.

We know this because we’ve tested again and again and again the difference in response that you get with and without.

So you have to say CALL. Or CLICK. Or RETURN THE COUPON. Please. (You should also give them a reason to do it NOW, if you can. Tell them when the lines are open, too, if you’re asking for a call and explain what will happen when they do. I’ll go into more detail about all this in another blog.)

But many art directors don’t like to say ‘CALL US NOW FREE ON 0800 123 1234 Lines open 8am-7pm Mon-Sat’. They just want the number.

Elegant, clean, beautiful. Utterly wrong.

This insanity is now even spreading to DRTV  (direct response television advertising) where the client is spending a bloody fortune specifically to get calls! And then not getting the response he needed simply because the agency is putting art before sales.

Because, as any nine year old will tell you, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

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