Maslen on Marketing, Structural tools

How to ask for the order

Last month we talked about desire.

Get people craving or longing for your product (or, to be more precise, feeling that your product can deliver whatever it is they’re truly longing for or craving) and you’re almost home. But there’s still one hurdle you have to leap before you’ve made the sale.

Every sales representative worth their salt knows all about it. Even though it’s hard to take. Ready?

You have to ask for the order.

So let’s talk about the call to action. Whatever you’re writing, from press releases to Google adwords, e-mails to sales letters, you have a commercial goal in mind. That translates into an action your reader must take.

You want the journalist to come to the product launch, the Googler to click on the adword, or the prospect to click through from the email to a landing page or complete the coupon on the sales letter.

The trick is getting your reader to take the action using all the word power you can muster. Here’s what not to write.

The dreaded I-word

Please don’t ever write,

If you would like to order…

If? IF??? What do you mean If?

You’ve just spent a day, or a week, planning, empathising with your reader, researching your subject, structuring your sales copy, writing the damn stuff, then editing, polishing and proofreading and you mean to tell me you’re allowing them imagine there’s a possibility they won’t buy?

No. This is no place for the conditional mood. Instead COMMAND them to buy. That means using the imperative mood. Like this.

Order today.

Better yet,

Order today and you’ll also receive this package of extra goodies worth £299.


Subscribe now and save 30% off the full rate


Register now and bring a colleague along for half-price.

You get the picture, I’m sure.

Using the mood of command doesn’t mean your reader WILL place that order. But it will push the waverers off the fence, some onto your side.

Restate the overall benefit

You could go further than the straightforward statement of the product or service being ordered and recap your main benefit and offer. Like this…

Join this elite group of motor-racing enthusiasts today. Remember, subscribe to F1 Magazine before 31 October 2008 and you’ll get this exclusive Ferrari calendar¾FREE.

Get to the point

When you’re writing your call to action, here’s a checklist of language attributes. Your call to action should be:

  • Clear
  • Short
  • Simple
  • Direct
  • Urgent
  • Irresistible

How about online?

I’ve touched on this before in Maslen on Marketing, but it’s worth revisiting. Try to avoid the ubiquitous “click here”. Here’s why.

  1. Web users tend to associate “click here” with “buy now”. If you’re not asking for cash you may be putting people off unnecessarily. Other options, depending on the target action, could include:
    • Find out more about our unique methods
    • Download the white paper
    • Join our free mailing list
    • Read client testimonials
    • Send me my free stuff
    • View the programme
    • Read the full story
    • See a sample
  2. Everybody else is saying “click here” – it has zero impact.
  3. Web sites and HTML emails render hyperlinks as, usually, blue underlined text, which users rightly interpret as “click here”. So writing this deathless phrase is redundant.

And I’m telling you this because?

If nobody never asked for nothing, nobody would never buy nothing. [Er, what? – Ed.] Oh, all right. In plain English, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t be afraid to be specific in asking your reader for what you want. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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