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 /

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