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No matter how good your message is, you are in BIG trouble if you forget this one thing…

This morning my heart melted after reading an email.

Quick backstory…

A couple years ago, my wife and I adopted a little boy from South Africa. His name is Samkelo (Sam for short). He’s amazing and after two years, we couldn’t imagine life without him.



Sam joined our family as a one year old. So for the first year of his life, he lived in an orphanage run by two incredible women (Lynne Ellen Pieterse and Sonia Swinton).

Now, just so you know, this is NOT your typical orphanage. Think about the most loving grandmother you’ve ever come across. Now multiply that by two. Now you’d get a sense of what this orphanage is like.

It’s quite possibly the most loving environment that these kids could be in while waiting for their forever homes.

Needless to say, my wife and I are tremendously grateful for the way they cared for our son during the first year of his life. These ladies and this orphanage will always have a BIG place in our hearts.

Ok, so that’s the backstory.

Now, here’s why my heart melted this morning…

This morning I received an email from the orphanage. They need some financial help and they outlined the specifics of what they need help with (which is good).

And because of the backstory  you just read, you can understand why my wife and I want to continue supporting them (which we typically do each year).

But here’s where my heart melted…

From a marketing perspective, I’m the perfect donor. I’m hyper targeted. I LOVE what they’re doing. And, we have the means to give.

For the most part, their email was great. They outlined the situation and gave specifics for where the money would be going.


They were missing THE most important piece to any marketing campaign…




So I read the email. I’m ready to give.

But there is no link giving me somewhere to go. There aren’t even any instructions telling me what to do.

The final line was “Any assistance with funding would be greatly appreciated and we are happy to share our records with you if you wish to view our finances.”

Wait a minute.

Where do I go?

What should I do?

How much is needed?

I’m willing to bet they would double or triple the amount of donations they receive from this campaign if they just included a call to action.

You’ve got to tell people what to do. Make it SUPER clear in regards to where you want people to go and what you want them to do.

For example, here’s how I would have adjusted that last line:


To continue loving and supporting the kids in our care, we’ve set a goal to raise $10,000 in the next month. But to reach that goal, we need your help.

Simply click the button below, enter the amount you’d like to give and your donation will be sent directly to Baby Hope House. And, if at anytime you’d like see our financial records, please email us directly at [email protected]

[Support Baby Hope House Today]


(For the record, you can actually click “Support Baby Hope House Today” above to go to the donation page of their website.)

Do you see the difference?

Without telling people specifically what to do, the reader now has to figure it out for themselves.

And when that’s the case, guess what is likely to happen?

Yup, nothing.


Because in the midst of trying to figure out how to give, people will get distracted. Like right now for example. My kids just woke up. And now they’re asking for breakfast.

This kind of distraction happens ALL THE TIME. And when it does, inevitably, people will forget to come back and donate.

Now please understand, I’m not picking on this lovely orphanage. I’m just trying to show you (and them) how one simple tweak can make a HUGE difference in the results of a campaign.

And I see this mistake being made all the time in non-profit work (like this) and also in for profit business as well.

Sometimes it has to do with fear about directly asking for the sale.

Other times it’s just not knowing what to say.

But when you’re reviewing your own materials, always ask yourself this…

“What specifically do I want people to do next?”

However you answer that question, make that your call to action. And make the next step clear and obvious.

If you do that, you’ll dramatically increase your results.

Now, I’ve got to make a quick reminder note so that I don’t forget to donate after getting these kids something to eat! :p


  • Happy story. Easy advice. Thank you for the love and wisdom, Stu (and family) <3

  • Excellent real life example!

  • Shawna Thompson

    Stu!!! I’ve read this twice. Bro where’s your donate now button? Dude love you like a brother… but this is a blog post about missing the opportunity… that’s MISSING THE OPPORTUNITY! ?

    • Sharon Hibbard

      Hi Shawna. Take another look… it’s there, and it reads: [BIG BUTTON WITH: Support Baby Hope House Today] 🙂

      • Shawna Thompson

        Yes… but where’s the link? I would dontate now is what I’m saying… and when i click there nothing happens

        • Sharon Hibbard

          Oh! Yes, you’re right. I would too – what a beautiful story. I don’t think he was actually trying to get people to donate – I think he was just trying to point out the need for a call to action. Maybe Stu will see the great responses to this and see how much people DO want to give to support the orphanage, and he might offer to work with them to create another email with a REAL call to action with a button that functions. That would be pretty cool.

    • True. Here is the link:

      P.S. You’re awesome!

      • Shawna Thompson

        Np! Donation sent! You guys are awesome too!

  • Codie Barron Leath

    Thank you for including the example of the call to action they could have used. The specific examples are very powerful in helping us learn.

  • Jerry Smales

    This story touches my heart as well, so I will contribute to this cause and I encourage my friends to do what they can as well.

  • Thanks, Stu. I’m glad you made the note to donate after getting your kids something to eat. 🙂 I appreciate the reminder of a clear call to a action. My experience with nonprofits is also the fear of making the ask and not knowing what to say. I appreciate you providing a simple, clear example of what to say!

    • I think non-profits and for profit businesses all struggle with this… especially early stage entrepreneurs. It’s a great lesson that being clear about what you want people to do next will always generate more actions.

  • michele

    Stu, perhaps in addition to supporting them financially you could teach them about a call to action. I am sure they would love some help!

    • I did 🙂 In fact, I helped them write the email copy to send out write away (which they did!).

  • Thank you, Stu! For supporting them, adopting their star adoptee, and for reminding me that a bold CTA doesn’t have to feel creepy. It actually helps people! I tend to be more subdued about it in my weekly emails to subscribers. I’ll practice expressing my special brand of awesomeness in a new CTA. 😉

    • Exactly! It’s not creepy at all. Be clear so that people know what to do next.

  • So important and without that one thing, nothing happens. I just did that with a launch of my new class and it was really nice to have people just sign up from the email….love your insight, what a wonderful picture of you and the family. I’m inspired.

    • Thanks Monica. When the CTA is clear and you’ve positioned the offer to be compelling, people will naturally take action.

  • So many business people are afraid to ask for the money. I’ve come across this time and time again over my 30+yrs of Entrepreneurship. They are simply embarrassed to ask for the very thing they
    are lacking, because their mindset is telling them they shouldn’t be asking for money as they do not have any.

    Millionaires will ask directly for Millions from their friends, Billionaires will ask directly for Millions or Billions from their friends….a Broke person will never ask directly.

    [I am not including street beggars in my analogy]

  • Kieran Smith

    So important to recognize the the goal of a message is action, as action is the vehicle for change for the customer and the business! #CalltoAction

  • Great point Stu! Thanks for turning this situation into a teachable moment that we can all relate to. And that’s a great pic too – beautiful family…

    • Thanks! I just figured its something we can all be mindful of in our own marketing.

  • Leslie Bower

    Completely true!

  • You are so right Stu with this one…and what a great way to tell a story, evoke a positive emotional emotion, add value to the reader, and weave a subtle funding request into the teachable moment. Quite an art form! Love the family photo too.

  • Kate Northrup Watts

    Love you Stu. This is such a simple, yet overlooked thing in marketing. Thanks for the reminder and such a beautiful story.

    • Ahhh… you’re the best Kate! Thanks for swinging by.

  • Your advice is always the best. Love this story and this super valuable tip!

  • Mathew Peachment

    Thanks Stu! Always a great and needed reminder

  • Cody Weber

    What’s the link to give money to this orphanage??

  • pat is this the correct np in zaire can donate through there. I just plugged into G and voila Maybe.

  • Stu, great example of what was missing and how to tweak it.

  • Ted Demopoulos

    Great example Stu! Calls to action are so often missing, and I notice that now.
    BTW, also adopted – it took over 12 months longer than it should have, and our (poopy and unethical) adoption agency gave up, but in the end we made it happen.

    • We had our fair share of dealings with an unethical adoption agency as well. So glad to hear that it all worked out.

  • Hi Stu. Your original email to get us here was almost click-bait…..but a great example of “click-bait justified!!” The lesson here on the landing-page was important and well-taught….but I can’t believe you missed the opportunity to do the orphanage the favor of including the CTA they missed….ie a link allowing your readers to DONATE NOW.

    • i didn’t want to click it either because it looked too similar to clickbait/spam

    • That’s a really great point! Thanks for commenting. The link has been added 🙂

  • Cathy Hay

    Great reminder, Stu, thank you!