Marketing communications should be purposeful. For each piece you produce, there must be a goal, a step you want your reader to take.
You see a woman walking. Is she wearing a workout t-shirt and shorts, casual but nice clothing, or a business suit? Based on what she’s wearing, you can guess right away what purpose her walk has.
If she’s wearing the t-shirt and shorts, you probably assume she’s walking for exercise. Casual clothing? A little harder to guess, but maybe she’s doing some shopping, new to the area and having a look around, or just grabbing some fresh air. The business suit walker is likely either on the way to or from work.
Other clues probably give you a more precise idea of what her goal might be. Where is she? Busy street or residential area? What shoes is she wearing? Sneakers or dress shoes? What time of day is it? Early morning? Mid afternoon?
We’re pretty good at making assumptions based on a quick glance. It doesn’t take long for a lot of information to get funnelled down into one impression.
That’s why it’s absolutely essential to know what your goal is for each communications item. Because if you don’t know and you don’t make it clear to your audience, they will come to their own conclusions. So you can make it easy for them to draw the conclusion you intend, or you can have them use extraneous cues to draw their own.
Goals don’t have to be elaborate or far-reaching
In fact, they should be simple and singular. The question to ask?
What do I want to happen after someone reads my e-mail, newsletter, landing page, home page?
- Sign up for a list
- Click a link for more information
- Call a phone number
- Make a comment
- Order a book
- Send a tweet
- Fill in a form
- Download a document
- Join a club
- Donate some money
- Make an appointment
This list of examples is far from exhaustive but each item is very specific. Choose one thing for your reader to do, then make sure the copy is written to support that single, simple purpose.
When you know your purpose, and the message is clear, it improves the chances that the reader will, in fact, follow through and do exactly what you want him to do.