(Editor’s note: Brant Cooper is an independent consultant specializing in marketing and product management. He submitted this story to VentureBeat.)
Most entrepreneurs know all about the “call to action”. It is, at its core, a big button on the landing page of a Website that achieves that page’s primary objective, whether that’s convincing a visitor to buy, contact sales, download software or something else. Basically, it tells visitors “click here dammit”. The call to action needs to be concise, easy to do, and achieve a specific objective, like moving a prospect through the purchase funnel.
As a founder of a Web-based company, your duties to your startup extend well beyond its Internet presence. And positioning the call to duty is something that extends into the ‘real world’ as well. It’s especially important when you are pitching, asking for a favor or delegating.
The keys to creating this strong offline call to action are ensuring it is:
- Concise – What you want accomplished should be conveyed precisely in as few words as possible. Rambling instructions leads to confusion at best, and apathy at worst.
- Easy – Make the task as easy as possible for the target to accomplish. Don’t make people figure stuff out.
- Understandable – Share what you are trying to accomplish. Your target is considerably more likely to achieve your objective if you let them know what it is.
Granted, all of this might sound obvious, but many entrepreneurs employ painfully poor calls to action and then are surprised when their objectives are not achieved. Below are a few examples of how best to (and how not) handle situations you may find yourself in frequently.
Pitching – Scenario: An entrepreneur is not ready for investment yet, but is introduced to an investor at a networking meeting and has her ear for a few minutes.
Bad: Entrepreneur nails his elevator pitch, but doesn’t ask for anything – doesn’t have a purpose for the conversation.
Better: Entrepreneur nails his elevator pitch, but asks a vague question about interest level in the space.
Best: Entrepreneur stumbles through his elevator pitch, states that he will be seeking funding after achieving specific milestones, and requests permission to keep her apprised of his situation.
Asking for an Introduction – Scenario: An entrepreneur is seeking assistance in finding contacts to talk to about his market. He asks a colleague for introductions, who responds by asking for a short blurb on what he’s looking for so he can craft an email.
Bad: Unsure of himself, the entrepreneur sends his entire Executive Summary in a Word document, hoping the colleague will pull out the salient parts. The colleague likely won’t even open the document.
Better: The entrepreneur cuts out a relevant portion from the Executive Summary and emails it to his colleague.
Best: The entrepreneur constructs a whole email with a short blurb of who he is, what he’s asking for and what he’s trying to achieve, which his colleague can simply forward on with an introduction.
Delegating – Scenario: An entrepreneur is forced to choose between two important tasks and must delegate the other to a colleague or employee.
Bad: Throw all material on the matter over the transom, assuming your delegate has time and ability to analyze the material in a similar perspective and accomplish the task to your satisfaction.
Better: Provide your delegate a concise history and specific instructions, but no flexibility.
Best: Provide history, instructions and the specific objective you are trying to achieve so your delegate can work through unforeseen issues that may arise.
It’s not hard to avoid having a weak call to action. Simply, have confidence in what you do. Assume you know best. People will let you know if they disagree, but generally will likely consider you the expert of your business. Remember also that too much detail may be better than too little, but being selective will achieve best results.
And always keep the momentum moving forward. Be timely when responding to questions and clarifications. You won’t see action unless you take some yourself.