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Steal a Page from The Giving Keys’ Customer Engagement Playbook

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Steal a Page from The Giving Keys’ Customer Engagement Playbook

At certain boutiques, you may find a set of necklaces featuring individual door keys instead of gems or trinkets. The keys are stamped with inspiring words like LOVE, DREAM, HOPE, LET GO, BRAVE, and FAITH.

These necklaces are produced by a company called The Giving Keys. But once you buy a key necklace (or another piece of key-themed jewelry), you’ll be asked to take a step further — to give your jewelry away.

Part of the mission of The Giving Keys is to end homelessness through employment, so they donate a portion of product proceeds to that cause. But to drive participation in the cause, they encourage customers to give their key jewelry away at some point to another person who might need the inspirational message.

When you market your products, you have to be very clear about how people can participate in what you’re doing. You can do this in two ways: by paving a path to purchase and by defining an opportunity to connect with your mission.

Two Types of CTAs You Need

For both, you must state a call-to-action (CTA). Paving a path to purchase is the job of the Point-of-Sale CTA, and defining an opportunity to connect to your mission is the job of the Connection CTA.

While it seems fairly straightforward (and vital), you might be surprised by how many businesses fail to provide a consistent CTA in their ads, in their emails, on their website, or in their marketing collateral. 

Sometimes they provide multiple CTAs per entity (by promoting more than one thing at a time), which can often divide the attention of potential customers or confuse them. Other times, the CTA is hidden or difficult to complete. 

You always want to provide a simple, clear CTA in each resource so that your marketing doesn’t go to waste.

Call to Action: The Point of Sale

Let’s talk about the Point-of-Sale CTA first, which has to do with the transaction.

You can spend plenty of time showcasing your product and telling people about it, but if you don’t give your potential customers a clear action step for acquiring it, both of you will end up at a loss. Most people won’t go to great lengths to figure out how to buy from you — they’ll simply move on to one of your competitors.

The Point-of-Sale CTA is a statement designed to directly lead people to access your product. It could be used anywhere from a billboard ad to the buttons of an online sales page or the sign over a checkout station.

Examples include phrases like order here, buy now, visit us online, join today, enroll, register, call now, request a demo, and so forth. On the website for The Giving Keys, the Point-of-Sale CTA is add to bag, followed by checkout.

Call to Action: Connection

The Connection CTA is different because it goes beyond the transaction. This is where you extend an invitation to your potential customers to join you in your mission: To help you support a cause, create change, become part of a movement, or make the product experience personal.

On the About Us page on their website, The Giving Keys states their Connection CTA like so: “You’re encouraged to embrace your word, then pass it on, ‘paying it forward’ to someone you feel needs the message more than you.”

But a Connection CTA can involve much more than that. For example, you may be asking customers to join you at an event where product sales are secondary (or not relevant at all), and the primary goal is to engage based on your shared values. Examples include sponsored run/walk events, charity dinners, service projects, donation drives, etc. 

Your events might include branded merchandise that communicates that those who wear it or use it are part of your movement, group, or cause. In that case, you would also want to define what it means to be part of the movement.

However, this is far from the only way to invite customers to engage with you. Build-a-Bear Workshop is a primary example of a business that has made customer participation part of their product.

Why would anyone pay another person for a product they basically create themselves? Because the experience of creating — and the fact that you’ve personalized the product with your own hands — is really what you’re paying for. 

The founder of Build-a-Bear Workshop, Maxine Clark, developed what we would now call “experiential retail.” 1 As it happens, the ability to make something your own also allows you to build a strong, positive connection with the brand facilitating your experience.

Whatever you choose when it comes to how people can participate with your business, you need to clarify exactly what “getting involved” with your brand would look like, from the Point-of- Sale CTA to the Connection CTA. 

You certainly don’t have to create a movement or allow people to customize your product, but it’s worth thinking about what it would look like if you invited people to engage with you at a level that is beyond transactional.

Exercise: How Can People Participate in What You’re Doing?

Record all the ways that people can participate in your mission, whether it’s simply buying the product you offer or becoming part of something bigger that your product represents (or both).

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do you want people to respond when they come across your product?
  2. What can they do afterward if they really enjoy your product? (Tell their friends; invite others to buy/ join; write a review; pay it forward; come to an event; buy one for a friend; join a group; etc.)
  3. Similarly, how can people continue to perpetuate the values you stand for or support your business for the future? (Subscribe to our podcast or email list; volunteer to help; donate and we’ll match; become an affiliate or ambassador; etc.)

Having these answers and providing consistent CTAs will help you become more memorable in the market. You’ll increase the likelihood that customers will engage with your brand repeatedly instead of just once. 

This is an edited excerpt from my book Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners, which you can purchase on Amazon.


  1.  History. Build-a-Bear Workshop.



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