Calls to Action – Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

ID-10079297In an effort to entice target audiences, the value of a call to action can get inflated. This often causes two problems. It erodes future credibility and can make transitioning a lead to the sales process difficult or contentious. It’s best to be realistic with calls to action and to error on the side of under-promise and over-delivering.

In some instances a trainer, consultant, or professional coach can’t help if a call to action doesn’t meet expectations. An event for example, might not go smoothly due to technical glitches, an off day, or style differences with an audience member. That doesn’t mean the core value was not delivered.

A more common example of overpromising on a call to action comes with products, reports, or whitepapers.

A blatant case of this came up with a client that had previously offered a free download for an “eBook”. While the landing page accurately described the content of the document, calling it an “eBook” was a stretch by almost everyone’s definition. It was a 10-page report and the formatting had been set up to stretch it to 10 pages. That’s not to say it wasn’t valuable information but “checklist” would have been more accurate than “eBook”.

To further confuse the matter the cover page of the report had been photoshopped onto an image of a book that looked to be at least 50-pages long.

Not surprisingly they received several complaints from users that were contacted after downloading the document. The expectation was for a meaty whitepaper rather than an overview guide. So not only did the document not help transition into the sales process, it actually detracted from it as the leads felt they had been manipulated.

In resurrecting the report, we changed the landing page to call it a “report” rather than an “eBook”. The image was also replaced with just the cover of the report without the photoshopped book behind it.

That treatment garnered the same level of response but none of the hard feelings when the leads were contacted.

It’s a great illustration that exaggerating a call to action is often not required. Offer something valuable, describe it effectively, and over-promising is not necessary.


Image courtesy of  David Castillo Dominici /

Beware Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tricks

It’s not uncommon for a trainer, consultant, or professional coach to ask for their site to be updated with SEO “tricks”. The problem is that “trick” usually means “shortcut”. SEO is not a one shot project. Good SEO requires ongoing content generation, appropriate on-site structure, and responsible off-site linking and promotion. In short, there’s no simple trick that will reliably improve search engine ranking. However, those tricks can hurt ranking if applied improperly.

Search engines are getting better all the time at understanding what users are looking for and what content they value. Furthermore search engines are getting better at identifying people trying to game the system.

Here’s an example of how the tricks can undo your SEO efforts.

A couple years ago we were engaged with a client that had an aggressive content generation schedule. This content was optimized for identified keywords and was being published out to a few reputable trade publications as well as their social media accounts. Yet after months of pushing for select keywords, rankings did not improve.

We knew the content was generating interest because leads and responses were generated from direct listings but we were stumped as to why there was no movement on the search engine rankings. The client was understandably frustrated because a better ranking was sure to leverage the content to exponentially grow leads.

In an update meeting, the client told me that he was going to push harder on a contractor he had been using for SEO “syndication” for years to really drive SEO results. I was not aware of what the contractor had done to this point and no efforts were synchronized so a joint meeting was set.

In the joint meeting, the consultant kept stating that he would increase “syndication” but I was unclear as to what he was referring to. He went on to explain that he was listing all the content we created in automated batches to a list of hundreds of directories. We reviewed these directories and found that few of them had anything to do with the client’s industry or expertise.

Directory links are an old SEO trick that search engines have been wise to for at least several years. While effort was being put into appropriately promoting the content, the directory listings were throwing red flags to search engines that the content was SPAM.

Have a process for SEO rather than intermittent attempts at tricking search engines. It’s a tough game to short cut the search engines and even if its accomplished it will typically not last long doing more damage in the long run.

Is Your Style Conducive to Digital Marketing?

ID-10044044Putting personality into blog articles, email campaigns, or social media posts can be a unique and engaging way to approach your target markets. But if not done tactfully, it can also be alienating to the group you hope to interact with.

Trainers, consultants, and professional coaches often have magnetic personalities that serve them well in training sessions or consulting meetings. Since their personality is an asset in front of people there is often an assumption that it is equally advantageous in digital marketing. That assumption is not always the case.

A client we have worked with for years is a straight talking, to the point, type of person. However, when speaking with him, he will soften his statements through tonality or with a smile. So his directness is often appreciated because verbal or visual cues clue people in that while he is bluntly pointing out an area that needs improvement, his intention is to help.

Those subtle cues don’t translate to digital marketing.

After some encouragement to be more active with his social network this client made his initial post to Twitter, “Sales people: If you can’t stop talking in a sales call you should be punched in the face.”

His intended point was that sales people should listen a considerable amount of the time. I have no doubt he’s said this same thing to a group of sales people he has trained and it went over well. However, on social media, with none of the subtle cues to emphasize the humor in his statement, he just wished that his target audience suffer a random act of violence.

This came in the midst of a campaign to generate invitations for key note speaking. A punch in the face is a difficult introduction to convert into a speaking engagement.

Inserting your style into digital marketing is a great way to add some personality to your campaigns. It can help distinguish your communications from other drab marketing messages. But be careful that the intent in your message accurately translates to digital marketing and that it’s not portraying a personality that is counterproductive to your marketing goals.

Image courtesy of  Ambro /