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No Call to Action is No Ad at All

No Call to Action is No Ad at All. 

Often the humble “call to action” is only two or three words. But if it’s forgotten, it can make a surprising difference in the effectiveness of healthcare marketing messages. Leave out the critical call to action in doctor advertising and medical practice marketing and the advertisement or marketing message really isn’t finished.

“Well…duh. Isn’t it obvious?” you might ask. “The phone number is right there in the ad…big and bold. It’s implicit that the reader should pickup the phone and dial the number. Is it really going to increase response if it says Call Today or Click Here?

As elementary as it is, yes, the call to action—or lack of one—can make a big difference. It is roughly equivalent to the salesman who fails to take your order. Imagine yourself as the prospective buyer. The sales person understands your interest, discovers your needs, presents an answer or solution, discusses, explains and presents the benefits of the product, and—just when you are convinced—they smile and leave without telling you how to buy.

The purpose of the call to action is to direct the reader or prospective patient to take immediate action, with a clear path to the next step. It may seem implicit, but a call to action must be explicit. Characteristics of a call to action include telling the reader:

  • What to do
  • When to do it
  • Why it’s important
  • And providing a clear means or method to act

If the advertisement or marketing message has motivated the reader to take action, it’s a natural next step for them toward receiving the benefits they now want. Provide the action pathway and they’ll likely take it. Don’t give them an easy next step and they will likely keep shopping…elsewhere.

In doctor advertising (website, print ad or broadcast) the call to action might be “Call today for an appointment tomorrow: [phone number].” But you should include a call to action in all your medical marketing efforts such as news releases: “For more about [this topic], visit our website at [URL].” Or in newsletters: “Register today for our [special event] by calling [phone number].” Or in medical practice video messages: “Phone the toll free number on your screen to contact us, or by email at [this address].”

Plus you can invite comments about your blog post, such as this one. (And with that, here’s our call to action.) Enter your comments below. Let us know your most effective call to action. We’ll help tell your success story.

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Stewart Gandolf

Stewart Gandolf

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Healthcare Success Strategies
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, a medical marketing and health care advertising agency. He is also a frequent writer and speaker. Most importantly, he is happily married and a "rock-n-roll daddy" to two wonderful girls.
Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf


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