Download: MP3 (28.8 MB)


Most people are not taking action on your content.

There’s always something you’re wanting people to do. Maybe you want someone to reply, buy, share, or subscribe. For instance, today, I want you to listen to this podcast episode.

The problem is you’re giving people too many calls to action (CTA). If you want people to do something, tell them to do less!

The hardest thing is getting people to take any action at all. When you’re so busy setting out an array of options for people, you’re not addressing the primary reasons most of your audience isn’t taking any action at all.

Today, we talk about moving people from inaction to action by focusing your message.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Clarity in your message is about trying to communicate less.
  • Do fewer things to a higher level of excellence.
  • The more calls to action you have, the less effective they are to an exponential degree.
  • The easier you can make it for someone to make a single decision, the more likely they are to take action at all.
  • If you want someone to take action, all of your energy and message needs to be focused on getting them to take action.
  • Your biggest hurdle is getting someone from non-action to action.
  • If you help people overcome the inhibition to take action and then you give them a bunch of choices, you’ll lose people.
  • You’re always selling in everything you do, write, and say, so if you’re conscious of it, you can be more effective.
  • If you want to be more effective in life and in business, know your one message.
  • Have one clear call to action.
Show Notes
  • 01:27 Sean: Alex in the chat was saying that he’s started to do shownotes. There are two types of people in the world—people who look at seanwes, who see the show notes that we do, and who hate us. The other type of person says, “I want to do that. I want to win.” Those are the people I’m kind of afraid of, because they have what it takes. Alex has what it takes. He’s working on a podcast, and he’s been doing intense show notes like we do here. We’re passionate about podcast show notes.
  • 02:19 He said, “Here’s what I’ve discovered. This is my reality. I’m doing these intense show notes and spending all this time on my podcast, and it’s taking way too long.” We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. It takes 16 man hours to produce one episode of the seanwes podcast. There’s a reason this sounds good, looks good, has great images, excerpts, highlights, takeaways, show notes, newsletter, and all this stuff. That reason is 16 man hours. It’s a lot of work for all of us.
  • 03:25 I didn’t even count us sitting here—Cory sitting here is technically two man hours, and that’s a lot of time. Alex is coming to realize that, doing it himself. I remember those days. He said, “I’m not even growing my baby business,” as he called it. He’s not working on his business, and he asked what he should do and what my advice was. I said, “Do less better.” I’m not saying you should do worse.

Do fewer things to a higher level of excellence.

  • 04:46 You’ve got a long podcast and you’re doing show notes and it takes a long time? Cut it down. Do less. Do it really well. This is on topic with this show, because the title of this show is Using Clarity in Your Message So People Take Action and Don’t Miss Your Point. Clarity in your message is about doing less, trying to communicate less. I can’t tell you how many people try and do way too much with their message, with their emails, landing pages, call to action, and social media. What are you about right now, in this moment, in this context, with this piece, this content? With this email I’m reading—what are you about, and what do you want me to do?

Sell One Thing

  • 05:44 You have to find that clarity. You need to sell one thing. Selling isn’t always monetary. Sometimes, it’s a non-monetary transaction. You could be selling the idea of someone on a page registering. You could be selling the idea of them subscribing on this page, buying, or sharing this page. I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I have plenty of places where I’m trying to get people to do too many things, and those are places I need to audit.

The more calls to action you have, the less effective they are to an exponential degree.

  • 06:44 It’s not like if you have two, it’s half as effective. It’s ten times less effective. Now, people are overwhelmed because they feel like they have to do work. It’s not “Click Next,” but now it’s, “Which of these six things do you want?” People have this problem on their websites a lot. I was helping someone in the Community with their website design, so I wrote up this big long thing. The problem was that in their side bar, they had these big blue buttons for every social media platform. “Follow me on this, follow me on that.”
  • 07:31 Then, in the main content, they had things they wanted people to do. Those were blue as well. I’m counting six or seven blue buttons, just looking at this page, and it’s not clear what I’m supposed to do. People are doing the same thing in their emails. They say, “Hey, check out my thing! Also, go watch my video! Be sure to buy my product. Would you share this on social media? Also, follow me on social media, but not just on that platform, but also this platform and this platform. And forward this to a friend! Hit reply if you’d like to talk…” What are you doing? They’re not going to do anything. You think they’re going to do all of them, but they won’t do anything.
  • 08:20 Ben: You’re putting someone in the position where they have to make potentially multiple decisions, and it’s hard enough to make one decision.
  • 08:29 Sean: The one decision of, “Am I going to take action?”

The easier you can make it for someone to make a single decision, the more likely they are to take action at all.

  • 08:36 Ben: If you give them multiple decisions, they’ll think, “I don’t have all day to sit here and weigh out each thing.” It takes energy and thinking through the potential consequences of doing or not doing something. I’m thinking about a newsletter that goes out. If there are multiple calls to action and you’re looking at that page, you’re just going to close it. You have to decide whether or not you’re going to make this investment and work with this client—you have other decisions you have to make.

Getting Your Audience to Take Action

  • 09:25 Sean: How selfish is it for you to just assume and project this extra work onto everyone in your audience? How selfish is it to think that their only decision in life and where they want to spend their decision-making energy today is between your six calls to action? They have important things to do. Also, your biggest hurdle is getting someone from the non-action pool to the action pool. You need to transfer people, and there are a lot of reasons that they’re not making that jump. I talk about a lot of these in Supercharge Your Writing because of the buyer’s journey. Each stage of the buyer’s journey has a bunch of people.
  • 10:12 It could be people who don’t know, people who do know you but don’t consume your content, people who have consumed your content but haven’t taken action—there are all these stages, and each person needs something specific to get them to advance. In a simplified sense, in a call to action at the end of your video, newsletter, or whatever, you need to get people from the non-action pool to the action pool. Getting them to take action is the hardest part of this.
  • 10:42 You need to overcome their hesitations, inhibitions, or reasons for not taking action, and when all of your energy is spent on diversifying the choices that people have and saying, “Do this and do that,” you’re not addressing the reasons that 98% of your audience is not going to take an action at all.
  • 11:06 Ben: “But Sean, people like choices.” No, they don’t like choices.
  • 11:16 Sean: I’m glad Ben said that.

If you want someone to take action, all of your energy and message needs to be focused on getting them to take action, to move at all.

  • 11:31 That’s where your energy and message should be focused. Then, once someone is a person who is primed to take action and they’re ready to take action, there’s a different level of psychology when it comes to choices and packaging options for your product, like pricing tiers. There’s a sweet spot of three choices, because when it comes to the point, they have to be here. Only 2% of your audience is here. Your real job is getting the 98% over. Once they are in that 2%, having three options, like a three-tiered product, gives them a choice on what to take action on only when they’ve decided to take action.
  • 12:21 Ben: People don’t really like the choice. They like the illusion of the choice.
  • 12:28 Sean: The illusion of the clarity that the other choices they don’t want to take gives them on the choice they do want to take?
  • 12:34 Ben: Exactly. All of your energy, all of your focus, should be on making them take the first action. If that’s clicking the button in your newsletter to go to your sales page, your focus should be on making that decision as easy as possible for them. They get to that button, and in their mind, they should be thinking, “This is the obvious choice. I don’t have to think about this too much.” Then, you give them a sales page with three things, and it looks like they’re making a choice, but really, this is the obvious choice.

Levels of Action

  • 13:18 Sean: There are levels to this. With the iPhone, you’ve got white, black, and gold. There is a sweet spot of three options. Stage one, get people to take action at all and have one action. Stage two… people aren’t there yet. I’m going to spend more time on the one action, and I’m going to tell a story so people know where we are. This is the story: you’re putting up a video providing value. At the end of the video, you have something you want people to click. This goes to your landing page, where you sell a course. This course is offered in three tiers.
  • 14:29 You’re not to the course yet. The people are not on that page yet. 98% of people are not on the course page. Let’s talk about the 98%. They’re watching your video, reading your newsletter, or whatever. In our illustration, it’s a video. You get to the end of the video. If you want the best chance of them going to one place, have only that option. Rather than a bunch of things, what is the one thing you want them to do? Focus all of your energy on why they’re not clicking that. What are the hesitations?
  • 15:11 They don’t have time, they don’t know where it goes, they don’t know how what you’re offering relates to the video… Address all of those hesitations right there, and put all of your energy into getting them to take that one action. Then, when they get to the point of deciding that they will take action, you get 100% of those people. They know the action to take.

If you help people overcome the inhibition to take action and then you give them a bunch of choices, you’ll lose a large percentage of people.

  • 15:45 Step one is one thing you want them to do and then overcome the inhibitions. Get them to take the action, and when there’s one action, they’ll do it. Stage two. We’re on the course page. You’re offering the course in three tiers. Why? Because three tiers is the sweet spot. It changes things from, “Do I want this product or do I not,” to, “Which one do I want?” It’s not a matter of whether you want to buy the iPhone or not; now you’re wondering which color iPhone you want to get. There’s a sweet spot there.
  • 16:26 Ben: The first choice, the first action, is really the thing that leads them to any following actions. That sounds obvious to say, but once you overcome that and you have someone who takes action with your brand, it’s much easier to get them to take other actions with your brand.

Use Clarity to Sell Intentionally

  • 16:51 Sean: We like to be consistent with our commitments. Check out the great book Influence by Robert Cialdini, and it will probably change your life. It’s a must-read for marketers, even though it’s a psychology book. Very, very good. We want to be consistent with our decisions, so if we make a decision, the next decision we make is most likely going to try and back up the earlier decision. We want to appear consistent, because that’s an attractive trait. Now, if you get someone to take an action, they’re much more likely to continue that for the reason we just said. The same goes with clicks.
  • 17:46 If you get someone to click on your website at all, anything, they’re much more likely to continue clicking, to make a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth click. That’s why the first click, the first call to action, needs to be singular. What is the one thing? What is the one message? This goes with everything. Really, we are selling in everything we do, write, and say. We’re doing it purposefully or not purposefully. Most people don’t know. They’re not conscious of it.

You’re always selling, so if you’re conscious of it, you can be more effective.

  • 18:25 You might as well be. You have to realize that you’re selling. You’re selling that your employee should do things a certain way and not complain. You’re selling that you want your wife to be okay with you going to a conference. You’re selling a product to someone, and that’s the obvious version. In every conversation, you’re selling a person that you want the other person to believe that you are. You’re selling an idea, a message you want people to believe or to spread. If you really distill down every conversation you’re having, you’re trying to persuade people in some way.
  • 19:08 Even when you give them a compliment, you’re trying to persuade them to believe that what you’re saying about them is true and to accept the compliment. We’re always persuading people and selling, in a sense. If you want to be more effective in life and in business, know your one message. Have the one thing you’re selling, your one call to action. What are you about? When you write your Instagram caption, what do you want? Do you want people to feel a certain way? Do you want them to share this? Do you want them to comment? Do you want them to go to your website? Do you want them to buy? Think about this. One message, every single time. Have ultimate clarity if you want people to take action.
  • 19:59 Ben: As Sean was saying that, I was thinking about my own business. I think many other people have a setup similar to this. Within their specific niche of whatever it is that they do, they offer a handful of different versions of that. In my case, with video work, I’m niching specifically in the video content marketing space. I really want to focus on helping businesses deliver valuable content to their audience so they can develop trust and use that as a channel to sell and market things.
  • 20:45 I can be the person who shoots and edits those videos, specifically doing regular, consistent video stuff. I can be the person who comes in and consults with their team to do those things. I can be the person who comes in and does a specialized, one-time thing like a commercial or an About, but the focus is still on the unique value they have to offer. Those are three very distinct things, so I think about my landing page and people coming to my website for the first time, trying to figure out what I’m about. If I’m showing those three things, it’s similar to me to the product idea.
  • 21:38 What if, instead of showing them all of the things I do there on the homepage, I say, “I want to help you reach your audience with valuable content so you can build trust with them,” or some version of that that’s focused on the overarching thing I want to help them accomplish? Then, when they click on that and they go through, it gives them the more specific options. I don’t force them to try to categorize themselves right off the bat, because what I want them to resonate with the most is that they have this desire that I have the ability to help meet.
  • 22:23 Sean: That would definitely get you more clicks, Ben, on the first button. It’s probably a different conversation on what happens after that. Then, if you’re offering multiple services, it comes down to the confidence that you’re the best at whichever one they want, which is lower. That’s an interesting one. I want to do an episode on that.

You’re Always Selling

  • 23:10 We tend to promote a lot of things on this podcast. Ben and I try to minimize it, but we usually do ask people to follow us on social media on the side. There’s usually one primary call to action, and we try to switch that out. We don’t say, “Subscribe on iTunes and join the Community if you want to support us and go to seanwes conference and check out” We try to focus as much as possible on one primary call to action, because if we tell them everything, it’s not going to be as effective. We want them to do all of the things, to type the dozen addresses into their URL bar, but they’re really just going to do nothing.
  • 24:04 For you, the listener, the takeaway is that in your emails, sell one thing. We’re not just talking about money. We’re talking about anything. You’re always selling. Any time you send an email, you’re selling. What is the action you want the other person to take? What is the desired outcome? You always have one. That’s what you’re selling. If you want to be effective, whether it’s getting an influencer to reply, getting a job interview, or getting your subscribers to do something, have one clear call to action. What is the next step for them? Have that one question at the end of the email, that one button, that one link.
  • 24:47 This is really hard. When I reply to people, they might ask, “Can you share some episodes on this topic? I want to add them to my list,” and then I’ll give them a bunch of links. More often than not, though, I’ll try to limit it. If someone replies to me and says, “Hey, your podcast is great,” I could reply back and share a bunch of links, but really, if I look at their original message, they’re wondering if the Community is for them. I should spend all of my energy helping them make that decision and get to that point of taking action. The one link in the entire email might be the Community.
  • 25:32 If you have six links in an email that you send to someone, they might click none. They might click one. Just like when you offer multiple concepts to your logo design client, they’re always going to pick the wrong one. You know what the best one is. Give them the best one and only the best one every time. In your emails, in your marketing messages, sell one thing, one call to action, give one strong takeaway.