Call to Action: Events

ID-100179293Events can be a powerful first step for most trainers, consultants, and professional coaches.  They literally put trainers, consultants, and professionals coaches on the podium to illustrate what they do and how they help clients.

Events can serve as a great call to action.  Dedicated invitations can be created and delivered via email or postal mail but small promotional ads can also be leveraged on websites, information driven emails, or social media. The one major downside to an event as a call to action is that it’s date/time specific.  Potential buyers can’t get the call to action on demand and must set time aside on their calendar. The major up side is that the trainer, consultant, or coach actually gets to interact with the potential buyer.

Events come in two forms – live and via the web. Both offer pros and cons.

Live Delivery

Live delivery is often more engaging because there is a personal connection.  Potential clients are in the room with the trainer, consultant, or coach which offers a more powerful bond and puts a face to an otherwise faceless communication.

– But –

The down side with live events is there are more logistics and tend to be more expensive than online events.  Rooms need booked, directions need provided, and most importantly, people need to show up.  Getting people to agree to physically come to a location increases friction for converting the call to action so the event must offer clear value.

Web Delivery

Web delivery via a webinar is the ultimate in event convenience.  Potential buyers can attend the event in front of their computer.  This opens up vast amounts of potential buyers as there are no geographic/travel restrictions on attendees. Online events also tend to be far cheaper, only requiring a webinar service.

– But –

Webinars are not as interactive as live events.  Presentations need to stay focused and concise.  For most trainers, consultants, and coaches a half hour is the max length they can keep the audience engaged for which limits the content that can be delivered.  Potential buyers will be more challenging to connect with because they remain a faceless entity behind a computer screen.  The reverse is also true.  It’s challenging to connect or get feedback from buyers on a webinar.


Weigh the pros and cons on which thpe of event is most suitable for your call to action.  There is less risk with a webinar, requiring less money and less friction to convert but the presentation’s impact tends to decrease. Live events offer powerful connections but with more friction to convert and more promotional dollars invested.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, /

Call to Action for Trainers, Consultants, and Professional Coaches

Every online marketing campaign should have clear calls to action.  But commonly trainers, consultants, and professional coaches will say, “I’m not sure I have a good call to action.”  That’s a big problem, it’s like giving people directions without picking a destination.  You’ll get somewhere but probably not strategically toward a sale. There are five common calls to action that most trainers, consultant, and professional coaches have or can create fairly easily.

  • Events
  • Whitepaper/Report Downloads
  • Trial Training Session / Free Initial Consult
  • Contest
  • Easy to Purchase Product/Service

When providing this list we’ll often hear, “But what about my suite of products and services?”  Calls to action should be fairly simple.  Most trainers, consultants, and professional coaches have sophisticated programs that require analysis to find what solution properly fits a potential client.  That level of interaction is almost impossible for a call to action without an advanced web application.

These five types of call to action are feasible for most firms and provide a good first step with potential buyers.  In coming posts we’ll analyze each type and in which cases they are best suited.

Online Marketing: Publish or Perfection?

ID-100149444Trainers, consultants, and professional coaches tend to strive for perfection. On the surface that seems like an asset but it can become the undoing of their online marketing.

The problem with perfectionism is it often becomes fruitless debate or nit picking. Gradual improvement is admirable but requires testing not nit picking.

At a certain point in online marketing timeliness runs up against perfectionism and timeliness should almost always win. There are certainly ways to avoid this conflict with marketing matrices and calendars but sooner or later revisions, improvements, and tweaks will bring you to the brink of a deadline.

And the rule should be to meet the deadline. Inevitably when relaying this message someone says, “But there are exceptions like blatant mistakes, inaccurate information, or poor quality communications/layout that need corrected.” That’s competency not perfectionism. Competency is meeting basic requirements of professional quality and clear messaging.

The best piece of marketing that never gets released is ultimately a waste of time and effort. It’s OK to refine and tweak but don’t hold up your marketing processes debating which image is most striking or what color is most appealing. As long as the communication is of a professional quality it’s better to get it out. Use the time you save debating and spend it on analyzing and testing your results. Then your next campaign can take what you’ve learned and apply it, rather than getting stuck in a cycle of “perfection”.

Image courtesy of  -Marcus- /

Consistency is Key in Online Marketing . . . Repetition, Not Necessarily

Consistency is often the lacking feature in an otherwise solid online marketing campaign.  Strategizing and planning tend to be what trainers, consultants, and professional coaches want to tackle but consistent execution can be elusive.  That said consistency can become repetition which is a sure way to lose audience interest.

Consistency is born from a marketing calendar and a company brand outline.  Following the template and schedule generate consistency.  The content can also help generate cohesiveness through follow on topics or offers that build on one another. Consistency is a proven advantage in that many potential clients will need many touches (for most people it’s 7 or more) before credibility is built up to a point where they will consider calls to action.

Strive for consistency but be wary of message repetition.

A client of ours ran monthly events.  They had a particular topic and a set way of doing their event.  Truthfully, it was a powerful topic and an impressive presentation.  The problem was that the marketing material was just as repetitive.  The description and the bullet points would change some but the title and calls to action were always identical.  What was initially a very successful promotion became tired.  By the 10th time they ran the event the email list and social followers completely tuned it out. Registration was poor and something needed done to rejuvenate their attendance levels.

So the event was revamped.  We didn’t go back to the drawing board, we just modified it: New title, new incentives, new target audience.  The consistency remained in that the landing page, email invitation, and social posts were all recognizable as part of our clients campaign but interest was renewed because the audience perceived it as something different.

Consistency is good but it can lead to a lazy approach which results in repetition.  Have a close eye on metrics and if you see interest has plummeted in a recurring offer or message, it will need to be revamped.

Marketing Over-Strategizing

If there is a number one offender on why consultant’s, trainer’s, and professional coach’s marketing campaigns don’t work it’s over-strategizing. The best plan ever conceived is worthless if it’s never put in place.  Over-strategizing revolves around one central problem, too much thinking and too little action.

Admittedly marketing consultants and contractors contribute to this problem. Talking about a great idea has more appeal than getting in the trenches and putting the plan in place.  This can get even more problematic for true consultant that will outline a plan but don’t fulfill the suggestions.  In these cases, going from plan to implementation is often challenging or never gets enacted.

Over-strategizing comes in 3 forms:


Make a plan and then see it through.  Seeing it through requires a good faith effort on results.  If you put a new campaign together then you’ll likely need at minimum 3 to 6 months to gauge results.  If you keep making changes or running too many tests you’re not establishing a base line to measure effectiveness. Unless a campaign starts and causes a noticeable negative impact, a consistent approach is necessary.

Detail Over-Analysis

A strategic plan needs to identify what, to who, when, and how the marketing campaign will be rolled out.  Once that plan is set and responsibilities are assigned, don’t get bogged down in the details.  Laboring over a particular button color should not delay a launch.  Mark it as something to test once the campaign is established but don’t waste time obsessing over small details until you are ready to test.


Copying other marketing ideas does not make a strategy.  It results in a mish-mash of ideas without the cohesive strategy to tie it all together.  Emulation also tends to lead down a path of starts and restarts.  One month the strategy copies this, the next it copies that.  Taking ideas and incorporating them into your existing strategy is beneficial, reworking what you are doing to emulate someone else, undermines a strategy.

Keep it simple. Set a plan and then put it in place.  For most web, email, and social strategies that will likely be at least 3 months to get data and trends.  Set a fixed time to discuss strategies, then don’t talk about it again and go do tactical execution.

An Online Marketing Strategy that Works for YOUR Business

There is no shortage of email, social, and online marketing to sample from.  It’s a common occurrence for us to get a forward saying, “Can we do something like this?”  While there is nothing wrong with getting inspiration from other marketing campaigns; trainers, consultants, and professional coaches need to assess whether the marketing strategy works for their business.

Recently I had a client forward one of Seth Godin’s emails to me and say, “Let’s make our emails just like Seth’s emails.” The email sample was very simple with a short bit of content and a handful of social options.

No disrespect to Mr. Godin, he offers great content and I’m sure he has a clearly defined plan for his emails being the way they are, but this client wasn’t Seth Godin.  Seth Godin’s campaign was built around short content driven by name recognition and a library of well-established books and concepts.  This client was fairly new to his market and offering in depth consulting relationships.  The focus of the email campaign and audience size was much different.

So we said, “We can do something along the lines of what Seth Godin did but there is not any direct lead generating mechanisms on the email.  Are you comfortable if leads go away for an extended period until you’ve built up a following in the way Seth Godin has?”  The consultant adamantly replied, “Well no, I need leads to keep coming in.”

What we ended up with was short tactics and insights like Seth Godin’s email but coupled with a single call to action that would change based on the content.  It’s great to be inspired by other marketing strategies but pay attention to the details.  What works for one business won’t work for all businesses.

Personality Can be Appealing in Your Online Marketing

A level of professionalism in your online marketing’s writing or media is essential.  However, overdoing “professionalism” can make online marketing less effective by making a trainer, professional coach, or consultant overly generic.

I was recently working on an email campaign that included video tactics that a trainer had made.  This trainer was a dynamic personality that clients loved and appealed to prospects.  Video seemed like the perfect medium for his marketing.

The trainer had instructed the editor to make it “professional”. However, when the trainer shot the video, he was buttoned down and not engaging.  Everything that made him dynamic was reduced to a talking head reciting facts.

Upon reviewing the videos, I suggested a re-edit with a little less focus on being professional and more focus on delivering the message as the trainer would if he were speaking live with someone.  Once that version was produced, it was much more engaging and highlighted his expertise by his personal communication style.

While there needs to be a level of professionalism, don’t let that restrict natural strengths.  Strive to find the middle ground that makes your marketing legitimate but also lets some of your personality come through.  Part of an engaging online marketing campaign is connecting with people and that can only be done from one person to another.  Don’t let your personality fade for the sake of being “professional”.

Don’t Ignore Your Email Marketing Database

Do you have a list maintenance plan for your email marketing database?  There is a temptation that once an email marketing list is built to forget about it.  The only attention it receives is sporadic additions. Don’t neglect database maintenance as a clean list makes campaigns more effective and can save money

I was recently shocked by an example of blatant list maintenance disregard.  A client being onboarded supplied a list of roughly a thousand email addresses that they had been emailing to for a couple years.  When reviewing the reports, we found that the bounces were over 450, a 45% bounce rate!  That means that half the people they thought were on their list, were not.

Ideally, you’d like to see bounce rates at zero, but realistically, if you try to keep them to a minimum (1-2%), you should be OK. If you are 5% or more, and your list is in the thousands and/or you send emails frequently, you may be digging a hole for your email campaigns. 45% is massively high and likely getting the emails labeled as a spam.  This happens because large ISPs register the high percentage of repeatedly trying to send emails to non-existing (expired, mistyped, etc.) addresses.

So naturally the first step was cleaning up the list.  It turns out that just over 400 of the addresses were bad.  The email platform that the client was using charged by the amount of emails in the database.  Removing the bad addresses took them to a lower tier which saved a bit of money on the monthly payment.  More importantly it set the client up with a clean list to see how effective their campaign was with their true audience.
Make a database maintenance schedule. It’s more than just scrubbing bounces.  Have a regular routine for gathering and adding addresses, review opt-outs for trends, monitor automatic replies for address changes, and obviously manage your bounces so you’re not sending emails to bad addresses. Keeping your list lean and clean makes for more productive and efficient email campaigns.

Consistent Online Marketing Activities Are Required for Consistent Results

There seems to be a common misconception among trainers, consultants, and professional coaches that once you get your online marketing campaigns rolling that it then runs itself.  There is never a time where you should be asleep at the wheel.  Every online communication channel requires consistent activity and a lull in activity will almost guarantee a lull in results.

Online marketing is like any job.  If you stop showing up, you’re not going to get paid.  A relative of mine has been running a blog for several months and is just starting to get some traction.  He was asking about blogs and how difficult it can be to get off the ground.  I commented, “People seem to think once the blog is established that it runs itself.  It’s still hard work creating content consistently and maintaining relevancy.  And try not writing anything for a short period of time and see your stats fall off a cliff.”

He laughed and said, “It’s funny you say that.  I went on vacation for a week, when I checked my analytics my traffic sharply dropped.  By the end of the week my daily traffic was only at 25% of where it had been.  The numbers didn’t rebound to their previous state for another two and a half weeks.”

We’ve not done strict testing on his numbers but it appears to be a good rule of thumb.  If there is a period of inactivity on your online marketing, it will take twice that amount of time to recover.  This isn’t just for blogs.  It applies across the board to websites, social media, and email marketing.

Social Media and Email Marketing: Your Movie Trailer

trailerI love movie trailers.  I will seek out the trailer for movies I am interested in and take in about any trailer that comes across my path.  I will actually get irritated if I am not in my seat at a theater when the trailers start.  But why seek out or get irritated about missing something that amounts to a short commercial for a movie I may or may not be interested in?  There are two primary reasons, one it’s an exciting sample of a larger offering, and two it provides a quick overview of something I might want to know more about.

Successful social media and email marketing campaigns provide the same two incentives.

Engaging Sample – What you email or post to social media should be your A material.  When’s the last time you saw a trailer with long developmental pieces of dialogue?  Never, because they want to show the most exciting or engaging parts of the movie to provide incentive to see it.  Many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches hold back their best information for fear that if they use it for marketing their audience will “figure out” what they do/teach and never pay for it. That won’t happen, at least not with people that are truly motivated to buy.  No one feels like they saw a movie because they took in the trailer. Make sure to provide samples of your most powerful metrics, insights, and tactics.

Content Summary – Providing quality content in your social media and email marketing is a draw for people that happen across it.  Those people are unlikely to organically take an interest in your products or services because they have not had a reason to look or think it doesn’t apply to them.  However, if they encounter something insightful that is easy to take in, they will pay attention.  Many times I’ve never heard of a movie or assume it’s not something I’m interested in. But if I see the trailer of that movie and it has engaging content, it can alter my perspective.  Your social media and email marketing has the same potential.  If you are providing quality information that grabs someone then they are likely to look further into it and be more receptive to future marketing communications.

Use social media and email marketing like a trailer.  Keep it short but powerful and remember to always provide a next step.  A trailer without a release date letting you know when the movie premiers might get interest but will also breed frustration on when the movie can be seen.  Always provide a next step to more information or a call to action so that the people that like your trailer know where they can see the movie.

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