As you prepare to run an advertisement or launch a marketing campaign, what are your goals and objectives?

Generating brand awareness? Promoting a specific product or service? Positioning your business as the leader in your industry?

These are all good thoughts. But, there is one important element of effective marketing and advertising which is too often ignored by business owners: you must create a sense of urgency.

Are you doing that?

It is not enough for your audience to be interested in what you’re offering. It isn’t even good enough if your audience walks away from your advertisement thinking “wow, I’d love to buy that product.”

If your audience doesn’t actually pick up the phone to call you, immediately get in the car and drive to your store, or fill out a contact form on your website, you haven’t done enough.

Why?

Because according to researchers, humans process anywhere from 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day. If your audience doesn’t act on your advertisement, the chances that they will remember it and act on it later are almost zero.

Your marketing efforts must be designed to create an immediate response. Here are several ways to accomplish this:

Offer a great deal for a very short timeframe. When announcing a limited-time offer, many business owners make the mistake of setting a timeframe that is too long. Don’t give your audience 30 days to respond—because they’ll think “I have plenty of time, I’ll get to this next week.” And of course, they won’t. Give them three days to respond, or even less time if it’s feasible. I’ve worked with clients that have found great success with special promotions that were valid for less than 24 hours!

Limit the amount of customers you will accept. A call-to-action along the lines of “We only have 25 widgets available at this price, and they are going fast” is very effective.

Point to external factors which demand action. You can also use external factors to create this sense of urgency. Financial advisors often use presidential election years this way, as in “What will happen if President X is elected? Will he raise taxes? Will interest rates plummet? Will the stock market crash? Take action NOW, before it is too late.”

Have fun with this process. I can tell you from personal experience that the best ideas come when you take the time to think through your marketing campaigns and get creative. What can you do to prompt your audience to take action when they see your offer or your advertisement?