A Call to Action

Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith (with Carlye Adler) have a new book, The Dragonfly Effect. This is an interesting short book that is an easy read. It is designed to be a practical guide book to using social media to enact change. It contains lots of useful how to lists but doesn’t try to unveil new knowledge or create a new synthesis of ideas.

The authors have a variety of great stories of people who have helped improve the world through their use of social media. (One caveat is that often the ending of the stories are a little depressing. This makes sense, they are real stories not Hollywood confections, but be prepared that some of the admirable characters they introduce have very tough lives.)

To my mind the most useful element to a general marketing audience is the section on a Call to Action. It is surprising how many marketing students, and even practitioners occasionally, forget that the aim of marketing communication is to provoke action. All communications should have a very clear message telling the recipient what to do after they have listened to the message. In commercial marketing the action hoped for might be a purchase, “Click here to buy”.

Aaker and Smith do an excellent job of clearly stating the need for a Call to Action. “Nonprofits routinely try to disseminate information about their causes without providing specific instructions on how interested parties should act” (Aaker and Smith, 2014, page 112). The simple reminder to have an ask is important by itself. Aaker and Smith also provide a taxonomy of asks — a useful aide to deciding what type of ask to use.

Remember that marketing should try and achieve something. If you want someone to do something you need to tell listeners what they need to do. A piece of marketing communication without a call to action is a waste of time. Always have a very clear, specific and compelling call to action.

Read: Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith (With Carlye Adler) (2014) The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, And Powerful Ways To Use Social Media To Drive Social Change, Jossey-Bass