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3 Things You Should Do for Every Sales Campaign You can have the best sales piece in the world, but if it's missing one critical ingredient, it's guaranteed to fail.

By Craig Simpson

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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You can have the best sales piece in the world, but if it's missing one critical ingredient, you could see virtually no response to it. We don't want that to happen.

If you want people to take action and buy from you, you have to ask for the order. But surprisingly, most marketing messages don't. If you don't include a strong, clear call to action in your direct mail campaign, you are wasting money! You need to make it ABUNDANTLY clear what your offer is.

By the way, if you're new to direct marketing, a call to action is the words that urge the reader (or viewer or listener) to take immediate action. In direct mail, your call to action could be, "For Your Free Report, Call 1-800-123-4567" or "Order the Ultimate Weight loss System today by calling 1-800-123-4567." To get the response you want, your sales copy must convince readers that this is something they need to act on NOW.

Also, you need to include your call to action more than once in your sales letter. That's because people skip around when reading, and your instructions should be so simple that a 12-year-old can follow them. That's because busy, distracted readers often think at this level.

Learn From This Example

I received a postcard from my local hospital recently, and I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out why they wasted advertising dollars on this campaign. They seemed to be notifying everyone about the arrival of two new doctors, and I think they were looking for "consultations and surgical care" patients.

But I can't be sure what their goal is for that postcard. It's a mess.

I mean, when was the last time you got a postcard and thought, Hey, this hospital has new doctors, fresh out of med school. Maybe they can practice doing surgery on me. Sign me up! Luckily, marketing isn't that easy. Or else I'd be out of a job!

Something I find especially humorous about this postcard is that it's from my local hospital, and they are the ONLY hospital in town. In other words, there is no competition for my healthcare dollars.

Here's how this hospital could have invested their advertising dollars instead of wasting them:

1. Target Your Audience

Instead of mailing everyone in town, they should have narrowed their list down to older people, more likely to need surgery. Or, they could have rented a list, and selected people who have filled out a survey and noted they have an ailment of some sort. That type of list is available!

2. State Your Call to Action

They should have used an effective call to action. For example, they could have offered a free report, such as "7 Things You Must Know Before Having Surgery." Also, they could have hosted a reception to meet the doctors and listen to a short presentation on "7 Things You Must Know Before Having Surgery," or "Call for a FREE consultation to determine if surgery is right for you!"

3. Establish Your Credibility

The hospital should have told the story of the new doctors. As far as I can tell, they are fresh out of college with no experience. Or maybe they just look young, but they each worked 10 years at the Mayo Clinic and have done thousands of procedures. Who knows? The hospital must explain why we should trust these new doctors.

If they are fresh out of school, they could say something like, "Dr. Martin just completed 19 months of advanced study in the latest procedures. He is one of only 30 doctors in the world certified to use XYZ Method, which shortens recovery time for most patients. He has two young children and picked Grants Pass as the perfect place to raise his family ...."

I could give you more ways to improve that direct mail promotion, but do you get the idea? This particular postcard fails because it lacks a strong call to action backed by strong copy.

You don't want to leave it up to readers to figure out what you want them to do -- they'll just lose interest.

Craig Simpson

Author and Owner of Simpson Direct, Inc.

Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients over the past 15 years. Simpson is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc., a Grants Pass, Oregon-based direct marketing firm, and a respected speaker/presenter on the topic of direct mail. He is the co-author with Dan S. Kennedy of The Direct Mail Solution. He blogs at http://www.simpson-direct.com/blog/.

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