I admit it: the whole point of this week’s post, and indeed of the video it’s ultimately about, can be summed up in that one simple solution:
Summary + Specifics = Stronger Messages
If you want your messages to drive action, you need to have both “fast” and “slow” ways to explain them. You need to make sure your audience can easily scan your message to get a “fast” sense of whether or not it’s valuable to them. That’s where the summaries come in: headlines, heading, bolded phrases, and so on that deliver the overall message quickly and efficiently.
Then, if that fast scan is successful, you need to make sure you have the specifics to pay off their curiosity and attention. You need to make sure you answer all the deeper, “slow” questions that the fast scan raises (who, what, when, where, why, and how, or some subset).
Now, you may say, “Tamsen, that’s pretty obvious,” and I’ll agree.
But that doesn’t mean people do it, either enough or at all.
I’ll admit that I have a strong bent towards scanning when I initially review information. That’s true whether it’s my morning scan of the newspaper, or one of my biweekly (and free!) reviews for my “What’s Missing From This Message?” YouTube Series, or during my due diligence before signing on a new client.
But that’s also true for all humans. People generally want to know, quickly, whether or not your ideas might be useful to them. They make quick judgments based on relevance and urgency. Are you offering them something they want or need?
That said, not having that magical combination is consistently one of the most common issues I see in messages clients have me review. Why? Because people often tend towards one element of the equation or another. There are “summary” people and there are “specifics” people.
The Summary People tend to fill their content with breezy platitudes and taglines that they don’t (or can’t?) go on to explain further. The Specifics people often spend so much time getting all the details and nuance right they forget to tell people the actual point they’re trying to explain.
Here’s the thing: both approaches make sense, and both summaries and specifics are necessary for your audience to act. That’s because each element appeals to its own aspect of how we think.
You’ve probably heard plenty of references to our primal “lizard” (or alligator or monkey) brains, usually contrasted with our more developed, rational homo sapien brains. Pretty much all of those contrasts are derivative of the work of Nobel prize-winning team of Daniel Kahneman and his research partner Amos Tversky. So let’s start with how Kahneman summarizes in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow:
- System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.
- System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration. [This the “slow,” more developed thinking.]
System 1 is “fast” thinking, which other authors characterize as the “lizard brain.” System 2 is the “slow,” more developed thinking. Summaries satisfy the fast System 1; specifics satisfy the slow System 2.
And you know where this is going: you use both systems when you make decisions, even if just to rationalize a decision you already made with your lizard brain. 😉 The same is true for your audience.
That brings me back to the equation I started with today:
Summary + Specifics = Stronger Messages
If you’re a Summary person, craft your message or content the way you usually do, and then go back and add the specifics you need to make your case. Both the Red Thread Storyline™ and the Conversational Case™ are simple tools I’ve developed to help you do this.
Similarly, if you’re a Specifics person, craft your content the way you usually do, and then go back and add the summaries that help you survive the fast scan. The Red Thread Throughline™ and “proverbing” can help.
Either way, the more you help your audience understand and agree with your message — at both the fast and slow level — the stronger your message will be.If you want your messages to drive action, you need to have both fast and slow ways to explain them. Click To Tweet
Please note that many of the links are affiliate links, which means if you buy a thing I link to, I get a percentage of the cost, and then donate it to charity.
If you’re working on a sales or a landing page, how can you know what might be missing from your message? Well, take a look at this week’s episode where we’re looking at Denise Jacobs landing page for her masterclass, Amplify-U. What you’ll find, just a simple reorganization between summary information and detail information, plus just a little bit of editing can make sure that her message and ultimately your message stands out and has the impact you want it to.
So let’s take a look at Denise’s landing page for Amplify-U Academy. Okay. So first thing she’s doing off the top is using the thing that I’ve noticed of course, is what’s moving. Brains are wired to notice movement, so awesome. Just kind of gets our attention and the way that she’s screened it back allows us to focus on the words. But what I really like is that we see Denise talking. We see her behind the scenes, and we get a good sense of even without reading the texts that this is going to have something to do with a course or some kind of presentation. So I love this because it’s a really subtle way to get and reinforce Denise’s message about what she’s trying to do with this program. Okay, so let’s do an initial kind of reaction take to it and what I’m looking at.
First thing I see of course, other than the video is, “Cultivate Your Career Confidence and Amplify Your Impact.” Subtitle here, “I’ll teach you how to skyrocket your career confidence and own your place as a professional in eight weeks, especially if your inner critic makes you doubt your skills and experience.” Okay. So what I really like here, just immediate reaction to this, is she’s leading with an outcome, which I think is always a strong way to go. There’s always a couple of different options with a landing page. Do you lead with the outcome? Do you lead with the problem that you’re trying to solve? Do you lead with some kind of magical combination of both? All can work and work very well. And this is a good way to go, “Cultivate Your Career Confidence and Amplify Your Impact.” So if somebody is looking for that and they’re trying to figure out how to cultivate their career confidence or amplify their impact, they’re going to land here and they’re like, “Yay. This is the thing that I want.”
And that’s one of the first things that a landing page needs to do is communicate that you have a thing that people want. So thumbs up on that. After that and the subtitle, a couple of things that just jump out to me. So, “Teach you how to skyrocket your career confidence and own your place as a professional in eight weeks.” So the eight weeks piece is pretty cool. Even if I hadn’t read that, if I just skipped to the, “Let’s do it in eight weeks.” She’s got this great combination, if we’re thinking about how you scan a website, which I think is always a way to think about your site. What do people read when they scan? They’re going to read. They’re going to see that logo. They’re going to see, “Cultivate Your Career Confidence and Amplify Your Impact.”
And they’re going to see, “Let’s do it in eight weeks.” And so that’s a really powerful combination. I think the only thing that could make this particular message stronger just out of the gate is to do something a little bit more with that subtitle. A, so it doesn’t reinforce or reuse the word she just used as far as career confidence in the title. And the other thing is by introducing this, “Especially if your inner critic makes you doubt your skills and experience,” this is the kind of thing that I would either turn up the volume on that point, or I would cut it. Because by kind of putting this right here, it starts to feel like, as my husband would say, too many notes. So there’s a lot of information trying to get packed in, in a way that doesn’t quite feel connected.
So thoughts on this is my gut says potentially that there’s an opportunity here to lead with that kind of double combination of, do you want to have more impact? Do you want to feel more confident, but you’re coming up against your inner critic? I can solve that in eight weeks, right? I think that there’s this, aim that message even tighter to somebody who isn’t just looking for career confidence and amplifying their impact, but is looking for it in spite of the inner critic that’s standing in their way. There’s always a trade off there. Whenever you’re trading off for focus on the message, of course, you’re focusing for a smaller group of people that immediately recognize themselves in that message, but your conversion rate is likely to be higher. So it really depends on what Denise’s overall goal is here.
Same thing for your own sites. When you’re figuring out what to put in that opening line, that headline, it’s really your first and best chance to cast that net for exactly who you’re looking for, and decide for yourself what that trade-off is. Okay. So let’s say that she’s going for that broader net of people who just want to amplify their career confidence, amplify their impact. And there’s just kind of this, oh, okay. Maybe there’s an inner critic piece. Let’s keep scrolling and see what happens. All right. So what I like here is that now she’s helping me decide even further.
And asking this question, “Are you a dedicated professional that once knew what it was like to shine in your career?” Part of me kind of wants this to be the lead line on the site. Again, because now she’s starting to reinforce this, by this section Denise is telling me that this is somebody who knows that they’re capable of more, and there’s something that’s getting in their way. Which means I would love the headline, that first thing above the fold this section, to really be even more clearly to that. Because it’s much more likely in my mind, if she were to lead with a question like this, up top, those people would immediately go, “Yes, that’s what I want.” And if she could change that button, that’s currently, “Let’s do it in eight weeks,” to be, “Build your career confidence in eight weeks.” Even if somebody wasn’t a hundred percent sure the inner critic was getting in their way, they would still see that as the payoff.
But let’s look at this section on her audience a little bit more. So of course she starts with that question and then says, “Of course you do. By now, you’re paralyzed by self-doubt and you second guess everything you do.” See again, this is her inner critic message coming out. And I just think that that means she should lead with it up top. Okay. Why? Here it is again, “Because your inner critic has convinced you of that.” And then gives this great list that helps people self-identify all the ways that their inner critic is getting in the way. My instinct is that perhaps she doesn’t need nine of these, unless there’s a real reason to kind of really give this full picture.
I’m wondering if somewhere between three and five would be better. Again, because I don’t want people to kind of get to this and go, “Okay, okay.” I think they’d probably end up skipping some of the ones at the end anyway, but again, I’m an inveterate scanner on sites like this, so I’m kind of like, “Yeah, yeah. Okay. I get it. I get it. Let’s move on.” Next section, “I Want You To Know.” And then if I’m scanning this, I’m going to go, “Even successful business owners and people of influence have fears and insecurities just like the rest of us.” So I love this because it really passes that scan test. If we’re just looking at what’s in bold, there’s really a powerful message here. “I want you to know that successful business owners have fears and insecurities just like the rest of us. I’ve had these struggles myself.”
And then the last thing I see in the scanning thing is, “That changed everything.” And now I’m like, “What changed everything?” So just from a scanning standpoint, I’d want her to bold out whatever was in this next section that is what changed it. Right? So that probably means something along, “So I have a feeling, I started putting my own teachings that into action.” In order to make it bold-faced friendly, I would add something into this that says something like, “So I banished my own inner critic and started putting my teachings into action.” Right? Just being always thoughtful about how people scan and actually rewriting sentences so that it works if somebody scans. Just a real tip here. But let’s look at the text in between.
“So I want you to know you’re not alone in experiencing all of this.” Okay, so this feels a little redundant with what’s bold, but it doesn’t bother me because if somebody goes back and now reads in detail, it’s just adding a little bit of texture to the language, a little bit of detail. Then she’s got the bolded phrase, “Even successful business owners and people of influence have fears and insecurities just like the rest of us.” And then she has this line, “As a matter of fact, self-doubt often increases as the stakes get higher.” So I like this one, two punch. And I was again wondering, just from an editing standpoint, does she need this line up here because she does this so beautifully in the next line. It’s a personal call, either way.
Then, “I’ve had these struggles myself.” At this point, I’m starting to wonder who she is because she hasn’t told us who she is. I mean, because the URL does not take us to Denise. She has not given us her name. We have seen her, but she has not yet told us her name. So I think the slight thing I would do here is say, “Hi,” or, “I’ve had these struggles myself. My name is Denise Jacobs, and four years ago I went through a series of events that decimated my career confidence.” So that’s the only piece I would add here, because at this point I’m intrigued. She’s potentially named my problem. I know because of the thing right up top that there’s a course at the end of this. And at this point, I’m starting to be curious about Denise, so I just want to know who she is. So Denise, tell me who you are.
And then I love this kind of credential piece that she’s adding in here. So telling a little bit of story. And then back to what I was suggesting before, just rewriting this last sentence so that she could bold it. And then this whole section would work from a scanning standpoint really, really well. So this section I think works well, just a couple of places to tighten it up. Next section, I’m going to assume just on the scanning, going into depth a little bit more about what she means by, “Inner critic.”
I think you could arguably put this before the section on her, but again, doesn’t trouble me. Let’s do the scan test on this. It says, “Your inner critic is undermining your confidence, blocking your brilliance, and stalling your success.” And again, if I’m just reading the bold face, “You can transform your doubtful thoughts and negative self-talk into a positive feedback loop to make your confidence even stronger.” Love that, because now it’s giving my problem and solution. So my kind of classic formula that you know by now, my irresistible idea formula, give them something that they want via means they don’t expect. And she’s doing this well. She’s saying, “Hey, I want to get past undermining confidence and all of this stuff. And how am I going to do that? Oh, by kind of creating a positive feedback loop to make my confidence even stronger.” Great. Okay.
So scan test works really well, love that. What else is she saying? She’s saying, “Under the influence of the inner critic, stick to safe solutions,” kind of goes deeper into all of this, “Inner critic keeps us from accessing,” all of us, our genius and all of that and constrains us, stifles brilliance. “Can you see how harmful that inner critic has been? Not just to your sense of self, but also how you perform?” Okay. So again, more detail in here then that payoff of how to solve it. Then there’s this great line here, which I kind of want to be bolded instead of the other one, because it works just as well in that, desired plus different equals irresistible idea formula. “What I have done and you can do too, is to get in better control of your inner critic to manage the voice of self-doubt.”
And then maybe have that line about how you can transform the feedback loop come after it. Again, not necessarily in bold, but people are more likely to read that kind of bold face, and then the next line after it. Again, just personal preference here. I just feel like, particularly if this section stays after Denise’s introduction of herself, I would love to see something in the scan version of this, where she’s again, talking about herself. So we see those two things happen. So basically we’d have seen that section on Denise. We would say your inner critic is undermining your confidence, blocking your brilliance, and stalling your success. And then we’d see the line, “What I have done and you can do too, is to get in better control of your inner critic to manage the voice of self-doubt. You can transform your doubtful thoughts and negative self-talk into a positive feedback loop to make your confidence even stronger.” Then continue with the paragraph as written. “Doing so will help to elevate your own expertise, recognize your uniqueness advantage,” et cetera. So I think that works.
The only thing that doesn’t work for me here is I don’t know who this person is because it’s clearly not the person in the rest of the images whom I know to be Denise. So I don’t know this. And I don’t know if it’s just she’s choosing a, I don’t know what I’m doing kind of person image here, but since I don’t know who it is and the context is off, and that person doesn’t look like the professional that you’ve identified for me earlier, I don’t know who this person is. So I would want an image here that is either doesn’t have a person in it, so we’re not confusing with who is this, have to name them, all of that. Or somebody who’s much more clearly in the active situation of the person that Denise’s talking to. So my sense from the text so far is that she’s talking to somebody who’s working in an office for instance. And so again, this kind of beach version of somebody in casual clothing doesn’t match for me. So consider a different picture there. All right.
Now, again, awesome picture of Denise. She’s so cool. All right. So imagine, so now we’ve got essentially she’s saying, okay, if she’s given us, now, think of she’s got our headline. We’ve got a self-identification piece. She’s introduced us to herself. She’s given us a hint of the solution here, and now she’s going into the pay off here. So imagine showing up strong and confident, having the confidence to leverage your skills, regaining passion, letting your brilliance out into the world. Taking back your power, and now envision what you could accomplish, what you could offer, or how you could confidently step up. And then kind of in a smaller font, which I will come back to, and you’re probably thinking, “This all sounds great, Denise, but how do I do all this?” I’ve got great news for you. So Denise clearly using the kind of longer copy format of landing pages or sales page for this. And I’m totally here for that as well. I just want to make sure that it’s as powerful here.
So the first thing is, I wonder how much of this is repeating what was in the list up above, right? The kind of audience self-identification piece. Second, I wonder if it’s more powerful if since she’s just spent more time in the section right above kind of talking about what’s getting in the way. I wonder if she needs both pieces here. So I just, I wonder if she needs both the imagine and the envision piece. Consider maybe just doing the envision piece because the psychology shows that if you have people start to envision that kind of future piece, they’re much more likely to act immediately afterwards. And I get that she’s doing this negative positive combination. So there’s a lot to be said for keeping both. Consider editing down. Just so again, it’s maybe the same number of points under each, would be a way to go.
The last thing though, I’d really love for this line. This, “You’re probably thinking this all sounds great,” to be set apart in some way. Because again, from a scan test, I almost missed it, because it was in a smaller font than imagine and now envision. And I almost missed it, particularly with where it is on the page. So I’m wondering if she could pop it out in a different way. Denise being a great designer as well, I have no doubt that she could find a way to do this. Because again, if I see that line more boldly, then I’m going to go back and go, “How do I do all this?” I might want to go back, and if I hadn’t read it, go back and read the section a little bit more closely.
Okay. Great news for you. And then she’s like, “Eight week interactive online masterclass, Amplify-U: Cultivating Career Confidence will help you get back to your power.” That answers my question. How do I do it? The course. Okay. Scan test from here, “I’m going to increase your confidence. Achieve top career goal in eight weeks.” I’m going to get access to a huge set of tool, mental reframes and techniques, spark creativity, back in touch with my confidence. Rekindle your confidence. Course starts in 12, November, 2020. I’m guessing not yet. Because it’s after the 12th of November when I’m looking at this, or maybe it’s a rolling thing. All right. So from a scan test, I love what she’s highlighted in bold.
The only thing I would suggest here is make sure that you’ve got from a parallelism standpoint, each of these bottom three, Spark creativity, Rekindle your confidence, et cetera, so all three start with the verb. So get you back in touch or get together working together. You’ll get back in touch or help you get back in touch. Again, think of how you can rewrite it so that you get the, “Get back in touch with your confidence,” can be bolded and work. Otherwise, what are we doing here? I think she’s kind of getting at and picking up some of the threads that she had placed earlier. I would suggest that accountability be a thing that gets bolded, because again, I get an access to the tool, mental reframes and techniques. What about highlighting something in this next paragraph again, because there’s some powerful things there.
And then just a little bit more detail. So again, this section works really well. Little tiny suggestions on how to make it more scan friendly, but otherwise great. “When you join in Amplify-U you get,” so she’s telling me the specifics here that I’m getting. Eight live group calls, interactive exercises, weekly homework and prompts, accountability partners, private Facebook group, community of like-minded and soul-ed professionals. So I think this section works really well. Just telling me what I want. I like the visual piece of it. It helps draw this attention to what I’d be getting. It works. Okay. And then next piece, “Amplify-U: Cultivating Career Confidence masterclass designed to help professionals who feel blocked, low in confidence, and out of their flow, remove fears and mental blocks, create positive feedback loops through targeted action and skyrocket confidence through the process.”
So this starts to feel like a summary here, but this phrasing of this, “Designed to help professionals who feel blocked, low in confidence, and out of their flow, remove fears and mental blocks.” That articulation of it almost feels like it should happen much earlier when she’s first introducing the class. Perhaps way up above the fold at the top, top, top. And then we’ve got another list of all the things that we’re going to do here. So since this list is so powerful and it’s serving a summary point, again, just wondering if there’s a way to reduce some of the lists or tighten them up earlier. So that this super long list at the end has more impact. So thoughts on that. And then finally, we’ve got a little bit more about Denise. And I like this kind of more in-depth bio here. I’d suggest again, making sure that she’s introduced herself earlier, but I like this here. And particularly if this is going to be a standalone sales page where it’s not really easily tied to About page of her website, it makes sense to me that she’s putting a great little bio here.
All right. And now we’re going to the, 5 Steps For Building Your Confidence Career Plan. Okay, now this feels out of order to me because I feel like it made sense for that summary list to be followed by Denise. And then at that point I expected one last call to action. But this is a step. So I feel like this should come earlier, it should come before that summary section. It should probably come after the, You get, so now that I know all the pieces, now tell me what the steps are that go into place. Again, and then the summary and then the Denise bio, what happened after that. And, “You’ll Take Away Lifelong Lessons To Help You.” Okay. Now this feels like another list. So now I’m just wondering how this is different from the previous lists.
Okay. Now we’re even more specific here. “How Does Amplify-U Do All Of This? Let’s Break It Down: Week one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.” All right. So at this point, I’m starting to feel like this page could use some editing, because there’s really good stuff here, but there’s a lot of it, and I’m starting to lose what the differences are between the pieces. So it feels a little bit like it might be selling beyond the close. So if I’ve already been convinced that this is what I want to do, I’m kind of like, “Get me to the thing where I can sign up.” And if I have not gotten to that point, these sections aren’t fundamentally different enough for me to understand and to spend enough time with them to kind of get to that point of conviction. So one thing that Denise could do here is really decide what is it that she’s trying to do in each block, kind of really come up with what’s the outcome of each block.
What’s the thing that she wants people to understand, or what’s the big idea for each of these sections? And then just use that as a test to make sure that she’s not duplicating. It’s fine to kind of do a summary level and then come back and do more detailed level later, but make sure that that’s happening in a way that makes sense. You do kind of do all of the summary stuff and then all the detail stuff. And I would suggest following the same order, so kind of go back to poetry class, from high school or whatever. Remember you could have a form that was like A-A-A and then B-B-B, or you could do A-B-A-B-A-B.
I would suggest that Denise go back through, classify the kind of big ideas, what each section is trying to do, and then group them either summary, summary, summary, like, summary one, summary two, summary three. Detail one, detail two, detail three. Where she’s like, one, two, and three are the same topics, they’re just in that order. Or do summary one, detail one, summary two, detail two, summary three, detail three. So that we’re just tracking with what the logical flow is here. Because even if somebody doesn’t consciously realize that that flow is happening, subconsciously their brain starts to recognize the pattern. And then you’re just helping them move through the page. My gut is that summary altogether and then detail altogether, and then end with a summary of the whole thing. And then call to action is probably the way to go. But that’s what I’d suggest based on where we are. Because the details I think are really important, but it might make sense in certain cases for her to kind of combine some of the details.
Do we need five steps and then all we eight weeks? I don’t know, maybe we do, but then do we need three sets of lists about what you accomplish or what happens? Maybe not. I don’t know. After all the detail on the course now she’s got these great testimonials at the bottom of which is the price and the, okay, click on this and sign up. I’d love for this to be set off not just by a different button color, but a different section color. It feels a little odd to me that it’s grouped up with the testimonials, but again, I’m not the designer, Denise is. I just would love to have it set apart. Because again, from a scannability standpoint, at the point at which earlier I’ve decided I want to do this, I’m going to want to flip through until I’m like, “Where’s the price? Where do I sign up?” And I just want that to be super obvious. The fact that it’s the only orange button on the whole site probably helps there, but is there anything else she can do to have it set up even more?
The, “What do you lose if you don’t join?” Again, good internet marketing technique, potentially of kind of like, all right, let’s just make sure that you don’t want to say, no, to this. The fact that it goes past the screen suggested it probably needs a little bit of editing. I generally prefer personally for every section of a site to kind of fit on a screen so that I don’t have to scroll through it. And then again, she’s got two other points and then she’s got this extra Bonuses piece here. You get a copy of the book. Awesome. And a career coaching session with Denise, also awesome, with some last pieces here. And that’s the end of the page.
The last thing I would do potentially is put one last call to action after that. It kind of feels strange that this stops here. I feel like the last thing I would want is one last summary of the whole section, of the whole program, with the last call to action, which is probably one of the ones that’s sitting up earlier. Maybe this, “You’ll Take Lifelong Lessons Away To Help You,” do all this. Because to me that ends up being a free prize. You get the thing that you’re looking for, you get these bonuses she just told you about, and then you get all these other things. So don’t you truly positively, absolutely want to sign up now? Sure you do.
So what does this mean for you and how you can make your message stronger? Well, whether it’s a sales page or something else, the first thing to really think through is, what am I trying to do on the page overall? And if you’ve got different sections, what are you trying to do in each of those sections? Once you’ve got a sense of what’s the point of each of the sections, then organize those sections in a way that sets up a really good logical flow for your audience. Not only, okay, this kind of information should always be followed by this kind of information, which I’m always going to follow by this information, and be thinking through how do you deal with summary and detail and the relationship between the two.
The last thing would be once you figured out what those sections are, go back and see, is there more editing that you can do so that while you’re giving people enough summary and detail to be convinced that making this choice is the right decision, that they don’t have to go through too much in order to get there. So keep those sections the size of a screen or shorter. Make sure that you’re popping out and making everything scan friendly. And you’ll make sure that nobody misses a thing in your message. If you want me to take a look at your content or message, please send a version of it to me at RedThreadMe@TamsenWebster.com, and as always, thanks so much for joining. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com.
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