POINT: Paul Williams

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Each of these is a call to action. We marketers put ’em everywhere.

The call to action is the punctuation at the end of our advertising message sentence.

Dear Customer, now that we have conveyed to you how great and valuable this product or service is… Here’s what to do to get it.

The quick answer to our topic is No. Not all marketing activities need a call to action.

The marketing we do related to sales? Yes. Make it as easy as possible for customers. Show them the way. If you’re so lucky that they find your offerings will suit their needs – by golly – remove as many barriers as possible so they can buy what they need.

But, marketing is more than just trying to get other people to do things. Marketing activities also support things like your brand/reputation, customer service, and what you do to be locally relevant.

I define marketing activities as strategies and tactics to support your brand. These could include customer service related activities as well as programs to help you be more relevant in the neighborhoods you do business.

Word is getting out that it takes too long to buy at your store because there aren’t enough sales people? Adding more staff may be something your Operations team implements, but that also a marketing activity… it affects your brand. It is also, obviously, a sales-related activity.

In short, if you are asking customers to do something, providing them with information on how to use a coupon to when your store is opened for them… Make things crystal clear. But remember, marketing is more than sales-driving tactics.


I believe new businesses and brands should be introduced with a strong call to action in most of its marketing activities. Established business, with a well-known brand and a growing customer base, need to remind people and thus, do not need to have a strong call to action in all of its marketing activities

New Business/Brands
It’s important to gain trial for new businesses. I’m defining trial as getting people in the door to visit your shop and/or getting people to visit your website. You must give people a compelling reason to visit your business, especially if you are competing in a crowded marketplace.

The strongest call to action marketing activities are designed to get customers to BUY NOW. Examples include using marketing activities that offer the following: Money Back Guarantee, Free Shipping, Free Trial, Free Download, Offer Expires Today, 50% OFF, etc. These marketing offers all work to get people to visit your business and to buy something when they visit that day.

Hopefully, the people who buy from you that day will be so impressed and buy from you again and again and again that you’ve just turned a new customer into a customer who now prefers your business over others.

Well-Known Brands
Once trial has been gained and customers have made known their preference for your business, its time to switch marketing activities and messages to remind people what your business does.

For example, brands advertise on National Public Radio (NPR) programming through underwriting spots and not through produced radio commercials. These underwriting spots are copy only, 10-seconds long, voiced by an NPR employee, and are prohibited from having a call to action.

In these 10-second long placements, the message cannot include: mentions of Price, Discount Offers, and Directional Information for listeners to act upon.

When I was at Whole Foods, we ran many underwriting spots with NPR nationally and locally because they were used to remind people of Whole Foods natural/organic food values. We felt these soft sell marketing activities would appeal to people who’ve shopped at Whole Foods before and hopefully nudge them to visit again.

All marketing activities do not need a strong call to action, especially for well-established brands. Sometimes marketing is more about reminding people who you are and what you believe in rather than aggressively getting people to visit your business.