How a crane reminded me about a call to action.

How many of you have played The Crane game?  You know, that crazy coin-operated carny-like game where you spend megabucks trying to win stupid stuffed animals worth about seventy-five cents just to show “your skill”?

Ok, as you can see, I have a hate-hate relationship with The Crane . . . because I have never beat that little b*tch, and I’ve known too many people that could populate a small New England town with the number of stuffed animals they’ve won.

I bumped into The Crane on a recent stop at my favorite Friendly’s Restaurant (yummmm), and while I lost about $7 trying to win a purple dinosaur, at least I did learn something.

If you’ve been in marketing for any length of time, you know that a call to action (ex. Buy Now, Download Today, Get Tickets) is a mandatory part of any copy.  But sometimes it’s such a simple thing I’ve seen it forgotten.

Well, leave it to The Crane to remind us all that if you don’t tell your customers what to do, there’s a good chance they won’t do it.  Being passive aggressive doesn’t work in relationships and it doesn’t work in marketing.

“Play till you win.”  That’s what The Crane was telling me to do.  Don’t just play.  Play till I win.

Simple, straightforward, and damn it, I listened.

The theater is filled with smart and clever people that come up with intelligent copy and tactics that could probably win a lot of awards.

And while I love clever, you can’t forget the two most important steps in any marketing initiative are:

1.  Ask yourself what you want your customers to do.

2.  Tell your customer to do it.

Oh, and one more tip . . . trying to tip over the entire machine so that the purple dinosaur just falls into the win box gets Friendly’s managers really, really irritated.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.