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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  • Sue says:

    IMHO the two steps should read as follows:
    1. Ask yourself what you want your customers to do.
    2. Incentivize your customers to do it.

  • Margie says:

    You crack me up, Ken. I can’t believe you didn’t stay at the crane till you nabbed your purple toy — or is like those fixed games in Little Italy during the summer festival, and you can NEVER win?

  • Kristopher says:

    I’ll tip Broadway on its side; if that’s what it takes to get you your purple dinosaur. Just sayin’ 🙂

  • Cam says:

    Perhaps you’re refering to impulse buying? When buying theatre tickets I would say that impulse buying would result from various incentives lke: Offering a discount if you buy a package deal. Or buy one get one half price, or buy one and receive a discount for a future show, or buy five tickets get one free, or get one child’s ticket for free or reduced with the purchase of an adult’s ticket. Also maybe receive a discount on featured sale items with the purchase of two or more tickets.
    I’ve seen one person get the toy that they wanted out of one of those machines using a very methodical approach to their success.
    But for me? If my child wanted a toy that badly, I’d go to the toy store. It’s less expensive.

  • Mary says:

    I spoke to one of the guy who fills them up with toys and he said there are people at military bases who clean them out regularly. The trick is to see if they are wedged by the weight of another toy. After a few people have attempted the grab they get looser you can win a toy. My sister, watches the hook and sees what it propensity is for deviation, where you aim and what it grabs. She has the engineering aptitude. I’ve won some and she has grabbed a lot. Some are completely fixed — you walk away and search for the fair ones. Tip: as a writer I ask everyone about their jobs and they usually come up with something very interesting like the revelation about the military bases.

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