Read This Now: Subtle Doesn't Work
People need to be told what to do. People like being told what to do. It makes it easy for them. They don’t need to think about anything, use any energy in coming to a decision. They just do what they’re told, and it makes them happy.
The problem arises, though, when we want people to do something, but we’re too afraid to tell them to do it. So we hint at what we want, or try reverse psychology, or send signals, hoping that people will get the message, or read between the lines, and then come around to our way of thinking. And the result is always the same. Success is limited, people don’t get the hint, and we wonder where we went wrong. We’ve spent years sharing our work with the hope someone will see it and decide to buy our product, but instead of being humble at best and meek at worst, we should just be asking them to hire us. I’m guilty of this. I spend my days hoping that someone will get the message and hire me, when I should just be telling them - “hire me.”
So it’s about time we stopped beating around the bush and got our ask on. Let’s tell the world what we want, and find a way to align it with what the world wants. It’s a win win situation.
Coca-Cola didn’t bother with subtle, but that’s not to say their marketing strategy wasn’t sophisticated. In 1886 their slogan was a simple call to action. “Drink Coca-Cola”. That was it. They were literally telling the world to drink Coke. No messing around, simply “use our product”. And now Coca-Cola is the biggest soft drink manufacturer in the world. In they years since they’ve employed other calls to action. “Enjoy Thirst”; “Refresh Yourself”; “Be Really Refreshed”; “Have a Coke and Smile”; “Open Happiness”; and even the rather verbose 1939 instruction “Whoever You Are, Whatever You Do, Wherever You May Be, When You Think of Refreshment Think of Ice Cold Coca-Cola”.
And who are we to argue with such a giant of marketing? After all plenty of other massive brands have a call to action as their slogan. Just Do It. Eat Fresh. Have a Break, Have a Kit-Kat. Taste the Rainbow.
I send out emails to potential clients, like most of us do. I include a bit of blurb about my recent work, some pictures and a few links. One month I added the phrase “click here” before a link. And my hits went up. On another email I used the phrase “take a look” in the subject line. My open rate went up. Just like magic, my calls to action worked. And as a result I pursuaded someone to hire me.
But it’s not magic. It’s about showing someone the door and gently nudging them to walk through it. It’s about making it easy for them. Removing one more thing that they have to do. Reducing their level of effort with clear instruction.
I’ve used the phrase “hire me” four times in this post so far. It’s not subliminal, just a request to hire me (five times). As my mum always says if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So let’s get our ask on. Make our request plain and our instruction clear.
Hire me. Just Do It.