The Most Important Question: What is Your Call-to-Action?

dreamstime_xs_31479123As a Houston business owner, what is the most important question you have to ask yourself before you start marketing? Well….it’s not “Who am I talking to (aka: targeting)?” Although that is an important question, it’s not the most important. It’s also not “What am I selling?” nor is it “Why is my product/service better than the competitor?” These are also important – just not the most important.

The most important question… the question that will lead to all the others and will ultimately make your print, digital, radio, or tv creative effective is: “WHAT DO YOU WANT THE PERSON WATCHING/LISTENING TO DO?”

The call-to-action will not only help you craft a great advertising message – something I know a lot about – but will also help your Houston business identify how successful your advertising really is. Having a clear picture of the precise action that you desire from a potential customer is essential for any commercial. More than one answer? That’s easy, it just means you need more than one commercial!

The action that you want depends on what kind of company you have and what your product/service is. Your goal might be to get the phone ringing… to increase website hits… or to get more walk-up customers to your store(s) in Houston. Having a specific goal up-front for each advertising tactic helps both you and your creative team. It ensures a clear message and keeps everyone from your copywriter to your media buyer focused on the same results. In the end, it will also help you, as an owner or marketing manager, evaluate how effective your marketing is and which type of advertising works best for each desired result.

Before jumping into any advertising campaigns, Houston business owners should brainstorm the “most important question” with their teams and set some simple goals. The answer(s) should come from within, and once you have answered the “most important question”, you will have a solid foundation on which to build your next advertising campaign for the Houston market.


Dear Rookie Sales and Marketing Professionals….

One of my younger cousins is about to embark upon her first marketing internship experience. As I guided her through some of those beginner questions over the phone last week – a whole slew of pointers started coming to mind. Rather than overwhelming her with the “what I wish I would’ve known then” diatribe over the phone…I put it in a letter. (Sometimes writing one actually works.)

To be honest, I wish someone would’ve written this same list for me about 12 years ago. I literally blush as I type this…those rookie-move moments flooding back into memory…ugh. 

Alas – while I had to learn the hard way in some instances (we all do) – i’m hoping I can help a few young marketing souls avoid making the same mistakes. And if I’ve at least accomplished that…well…then…you’re welcome.

Dear Cuz –

Congrats on the new gig. A few extra pieces of advice popped into my mind as ‘Day One’ approaches. So I thought I’d share with you in random order and in numbered bullet points, of course.

Suffice it to say that some things I learned the hard way…

1. Spell check and re-read EVERYTHING. You’re the marketer…which means your communication skills (written and verbal) should be a good example.

2. Re-read your (important) business emails out loud and see if they make sense verbally. If not – you may want to consider revising.

3. Punctuation is just as important. A sentence missing a “,” or a “-“ can completely change the meaning of what you’re trying to say.

4. This all said – don’t rush your emails. Take the time to put thoughts together clearly, succinctly. A good email takes more time to write but it’s worth it. It’s a reflection on you professionally and it instantly gains the trust of others in your skillsets. (Much of your work will be conducted via emails and other electronic communication – you could apply these suggestions to any channel.)

5. Since you’re new and young – I’d stay away from Facebook all together while at work. You’re supposed to be busy. Don’t let it be ammo for anyone at the office who is adjusting to you and your style.

6. Think twice about adding colleagues you barely know as “friends”

7. Suggest you immediately turn on the feature that allows you to review/approve any posts or tagging done by friends and make sure if you approve of them – that they are a positive, professional reflection on you and your life. (People can be quick to judge that “the new chick is on FB all day” when they see you “like” something at 10a on a Tuesday. That’s all it takes.)

8. If you accept colleagues into your social spaces – you may want to limit the access they have to photo albums, etc.

9. Dress for the job you want – not the one you have. Keep those skirts close to knee length. Avoid cleavage, etc…

10. You won’t believe how attire can change how you’re perceived – and especially by women.

11. Don’t ever engage in office drama/gossip. Take the high road. You never know who can be trusted or not – especially this early into a gig.

12. Never complain about work on Facebook or any other place.

13. Network as much as you can. Attend company functions. Get to know people and their responsibilities in other types of positions at the company. The more you learn about them and respect their disciplines – the more they’ll appreciate and listen to you. (eg. Spend a half day with an accountant. It’s quite interesting for a marketer.)

14. Listen. Listen. Listen. Hear it. Then talk.

15. Never “REPLY ALL” on mass company emails…or emails sent to a large group of people. (It’s a classic rookie move. You WILL get made fun of.)

16. EVERYTHING you do or email is traceable. Careful what you send/receive.

17. If you’re bored…proactively find something (relevant to your job) to do. Make something better…create a process…make a plan. Do some research. Show your value.

18. Find mentors and keep in touch with them – even when you don’t need anything. They’ll be there for you if you show you care about what they’re doing on an ongoing basis. It’s lame to only reach out when you need something. They enjoy providing insights – always.

19. Handwritten “thank yous” go a LONG way. If someone does a favor for you at the office…let him/her know you appreciate it with a note of thanks.

20. Ask for a deadline so you can prioritize what someone needs. Never not respond b/c you don’t have an update. Simply let them know you’re working on it and/or give an ETA. A response with an update is BETTER than no response. (Unless they give you a preference.)

21. Before working collaboratively with someone – ask him/her how they prefer to communicate…via email?  Text  messages?  Phone calls? (I hate voice mails. I tell every colleague, friend, agency, etc…not to leave me a vmail. They stress me out.)

22. Before jumping into any conversation with ANYone…ask them if they have a minute or two to chat. You may need them now, but they may need to wrap something up before they can help you and may not tell you that. Respect their time.

23. Set goals for your career/development with your supervisor. Make sure they are attainable and you measure your results along the way.

24. Google is going to be your best friend/tutor/coach/resource.

25. Admins and assistants aren’t below you. They have more clout than you think.

26. Don’t get schnockered at work HHs.

27. Bullet points

28. Bullet points

29. Bullet points

30. Respond to emails from your leaders with urgency.

Knock ‘em dead.