One of the first lessons in learned in marketing is one of the easier to understand. It’s one of the most durable, timeless pieces of advice. It’s been promoted experts of all stripes. And yet, it’s one of the most consistently ignored.

When people read your ad, your press release, your email, or your website, what exactly do you want them to do?

The answer is that handy little element we refer to as the “call to action.” Simply put, it’s a phrase or instructions that tell the reader or viewer what they should do next. “To download your free guide, visit our website at …” “For a free price quote, call 1-888 … “Stop in and try our new paninis today.”

Once you’ve gone to all the trouble of catching your prospect’s interest and convincing them that what you’re offering is worth their time and money, you have their full attention. Now it’s up to you to guide them to the next step.

That’s not just one man’s opinion, either. Years of direct marketing research prove that pieces with a call to action outperform those that don’t have one. A strong call to action outpulls a weak one. And giving readers/viewers multiple ways to respond increases response that much more.