Whenever you’re writing something for your business, you should always encourage your readers to take some kind of action. This is true for sales letters, brochures, special offers, web content, flyers or eBooks, and advertisements – really, anything that will fall into the hands of prospects. I am always amazed at how many ads and emails I receive that have no call to action whatsoever.

If you or your company are putting out such ads, I want you to kill them dead. They are a waste of money. Unless you’re a multi-national business with offices on three continents, institutional advertising wastes money.

Instead, concentrate on making the cash register ring, or whatever the equivalent is in your industry. The point is to get an immediate response.

How to beat the temptation to procrastinate
Your prospects are busy people with a lot to do. It’s easy for them to set aside your marketing piece and say to themselves, I’ll get to this later. In fact, haven’t we all done that? I’ve put aside things I was interested in, only to pick them up a few weeks later and realized I’d missed the deadline. It’s human nature. You’ve got to overcome this temptation by making your sales piece so compelling that people will take action not tomorrow, or later, but “right now.” Here are five techniques you can employ to get people off their duffs.

1. Give them a hard deadline. Deadlines work alone or in combination with other techniques, but they are effective at boosting response. Simply tell your respondents that they must respond by a certain date to qualify for your offer. Make it emphatic. “Sorry, but at 6 p.m. EST on Aug. 17, the door to this opportunity will be slammed shut, never to re-open. Order today…” You get the idea.

2. Create scarcity. Tell your prospects that there is limited availability. You shouldn’t just contrive this or make it up out of thin air. Instead, determine ahead of time how many premiums you’re willing to make available and cut if off at that number. Make it honest and genuine, and you’ll be able to promote the scarcity legitimately.

3. Give multiple ways to respond. This is a page out of the direct mail manual. You’ve got to make it as easy as possible to respond to your offer. Remember, people respond differently than you might think. One person thinks calling a live phone number is threatening, another would rather call than go online. Someone else might prefer to respond by mail. Why not give them every option available and make it easy on everyone? It will help boost your response rate if you do.

4. Offer premiums. This is especially powerful when combined with a deadline. I once bought a subscription to Sports Illustrated simply to get a bonus DVD of the highlights of Muhammed Ali’s boxing career. The quantities were limited (see # 2 above) and you had to have your subscription postmarked by a certain date (see #1 above).

5. Discounts or Penalties. Did you ever notice that if you commit to a conference well in advance your admission cost is discounted? That’s not by accident. It makes sense to give a discount for an early response, or to impose the flip side of that coin – a penalty by not responding quickly. (Think parking tickets!) Either tactic can be used effectively to get your prospects to take action NOW!

Start adding urgency to your marketing messages, and you’ll see an increase in conversions.

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