Need 55-Gallon Trash Bags

Originally sent via email as a Letter. Subscribe here or over to your right in the side bar.

I pass a Humane Society every time I drive up to my parents for a visit.
Their sign outside always asks for exactly what they need: 

  • “Need 55-gallon trash bags.”

  • “Need latex gloves.”

  • “Need kitty litter.”

As a nonprofit, funds are tight and getting the materials they need is a stretch - so why not ask their community?

Every time I drive by I think (because I’m a total nerd), “Wow, what an incredibly clear call to action!”

Here’s what makes this call-to-action brilliant.

1. Extreme clarity

Too often I see CTAs that look like this:

  • “Shop now”

  • “Contact us”

  • (and the worst) “Learn more”

While they are short and clear they still lack clarity

  • What am I shopping for?

  • Why would I contact you?

  • And yo, I graduated ages ago, I’m done learning.

The Humane Society doesn’t ask "Bring us cleaning supplies" or "We need donations."

55-gallon trash bags is such a clear ask that I am left with no doubt as to what the outcome will be - me giving them trash bags.

Add a benefit at the end of your CTAs to add more clarity. 

  • “Shop now for your new look.”

    • Why they would shop

  • “Book us for your next show.”

    • No one just straight up contacts you. There’s a motive behind it. Your CTA is your chance to remind them of what you do.

  • “Start standing out for the RIGHT students - watch this 5-minute video today.”

    • Instead of “learn more” tell them the major takeaway from your lesson.


2. Hidden motive

The Humane Society’s signs have a clever second agenda.

Trying to get someone to pop in and adopt a puppy is a really big ask.
That’s more than 10 years of your life radically changed!

By asking for materials like bags and kitty litter they are getting people in the door...and who can resist a cute kitty once you see it!?

You WILL stop in with trash bags...and you just might walk out with a new dog.

A smaller ask is a much...well...smaller commitment for the customer. 
CTAs don’t need to go for the big kahuna every single time.
If you’re going in for a big win right away, I’m betting your conversion rates are pretty low.

You just need to open the door.

Which brings us back to extreme clarity.

What would happen if businesses were braver in their CTAs?

Probably a hell of a lot of good things, like more customers and higher impact.

Clarity calls for courage - so here’s my challenge for you today.

1. Decide what you really need in your business and write a CTA for it.

2. Put it through the 55 Gallon Trash Bag test (<I should develop this more, don’t you think?)

  1. Does it have extreme clarity?

  2. Are you asking for too much?

3. Then actually post it.
Post it to social media.
Send it to your email list.
Ask your contacts.

Make. The. Ask.

Here’s mine:
Book a website review with me to optimize your copy in just 30 minutes.
We'll put all of your CTAs through the 55 Gallon Trash Bag test.