I absolutely LOVE that Randy Ingermanson of the FREE monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine allows others to “steal” articles from his publication with the proper permission statement (see end). Here’s a great article on the old familiar “call to action”, the staple of marketing online and elsewhere.
Date: April 24, 2017
Issue: Volume 13, Number 3
Marketing: Your Call to Action
There’s a fundamental law of marketing that will earn you a lot of money if you know it.
The law is simple: “Tell people what you want them to do.”
Now of course you should do this politely. I don’t think there’s any excuse for rude marketing.
But the important point is that people won’t know what you want them to do unless you tell them.
You can write the most amazing ad copy ever for your book, but unless you ask for the sale, it won’t occur to some people to buy it.
The point in your ad copy where you ask for the sale is called the “call to action” by marketing people.
A call to action is pretty simple. You’ve made your pitch already as to WHY your book is great. Now you tell how to get it, and you use the imperative voice, something like this: “Click here to see my book on Amazon.”
It should go without saying that a call to action isn’t very useful by itself. You have to make people hungry before you can sell them a meal. But once you’ve got them salivating, it’s just dumb to end the conversation without saying, “Come on in and sit down and I’ll serve you an AWESOME meal.”
It’s a simple fact that when you tell people what you want them to do, you’ll get better results than if you don’t.
An Accidental Call To Action
I once saw a call to action done accidentally by a judge. My wife immigrated from Korea many years ago. On the day she got her citizenship, I went to the ceremony at the courthouse. There were about a hundred new citizens being sworn in and the place was buzzing.
At the end, the judge wanted to impress on the new citizens that their new papers were NOT to be photocopied. Apparently, that violates some law. The judge could have simply said, “Don’t make a copy of your papers.”
Instead, he drew them a very long and detailed verbal picture of the thing he didn’t want them to do. It went something like this: “Don’t walk out of this door and go down the stairs to the first floor, and turn the corner and go to the photocopy room and put your papers on the copy machine and put in a dime and make a copy of your papers and take them home.”
The problem was that his long sentence was filled with actions that were easy to visualize. It sounded like a call to action, filled with imperatives. By the end of that sentence, I had nearly forgotten the “Don’t” at the beginning. I’m a native speaker of English, and the judge got me confused with his negative “call to action”. After the ceremony, my wife mentioned how confusing the judge’s instructions were. She was pretty sure some people would do exactly what the judge had described, given that new immigrants are often not fully up to speed on the language.
There’s a lesson here for your call to action. Be concrete. Be clear. Tell them what you want them to do.
If you think about all the thousands of ads you’ve seen in your lifetime, you can easily spot the call to action in each one.
- “Come in for a test drive today.”
- “Buy one, get one free.”
- “Have a Coke and a smile.”
- “American Express. Don’t leave home without it.”
- “Fly United.”
A Prime Location for Your Call to Action
One of the best places for you as a novelist to put a call to action is at the end of your book. You’ve just given your reader a powerful emotional experience. Your reader is thinking, “Doggone! I wish this book wasn’t over!”
Now they turn the page and see a one-page ad for your next book. You summarize the story premise in a sentence or two. You show a picture of the cover, which is amazing. Then you write your call to action: “Get it right now on Amazon.” If your book is an e-book, this should include a link to the sales page for the book you’re promoting.
There is no better way to promote your book.
My Call to Action for You
Now this does require you to be able to summarize your book in a sentence or two. Twenty-five or thirty words, maximum. This is an art form that every novelist should master, and if you’re a fan of my Snowflake Method, you probably already know all this.
Most readers of this e-zine are very familiar with my Snowflake Method. In case you’re new here, I’ll just say that it’s my wildly popular method for creating the first draft of a novel that is designed to sell.
The very first step of the Snowflake Method is to condense the storyline of your novel down to one high-impact sentence that punches every possible hot-button for your Target Audience.
Your one-sentence summary is the most powerful marketing tool you will ever have for your novel.
The Snowflake Method is described in a free article on my web site which has now been viewed more then 5,000,000 times over the years. You can read all about it here on this page here.
I later expanded the article out into a book that teaches the Snowflake Method in a story, because I believe that people learn best in a story. The paper version of the book costs $10.99, and the e-book version is only $3.99.
Check out the e-book here on Amazon for only $3.99
Check out the e-book here on the iBooks store for only $3.99
Check out the e-book here on B&N for only $3.99
Check out the e-book here on Kobo for only $3.99
The four links above are an example of a call to action that illustrates the main point of this article. If you’ve been meaning to learn more about the Snowflake Method, there will never be a better time than right now. Go to it, and have fun!
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 16,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visitwww.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.