How to Write a Call-to-Action

To understand the difference between brand messaging and copywriting, read on

How do you write a call-to-action? This was a trick question because what matters more than the wording of the call-to-action is the brand messaging that goes around it.

But I often get this question: “what do you think our CTA should be?”.  This is where I get to say, “Meh, who cares”. Bear with me.

Brand messaging for niche-market expertise businesses has three interconnected parts.


Nail those three pieces and you have a brand messaging framework. 

A CTA is not part of that framework.

The name is the hardest or easiest part. A while ago I wrote an advice post on how to name things. Businesses, products, human beings, even dogs. That was inspired both by my experience naming brands and also by what I read here. One takeaway – a good name doesn’t have the solution baked into it – because the solution might change.

But a name by itself isn’t enough. Soon enough, for example, your kids get taglines to go with their names. 

That’s Sasha, he’s the life of the party. 

Or more accurately: That’s Sasha, he makes groups of other kids relax and laugh.

It takes a little time to create a good tagline but it’s the easiest part of brand messaging – if you let it be. Accept that as a niche-market brand, most people won’t know you. Then you can accept that your tagline should be descriptive, informative, and accurate. Even if it’s boring.

The headline is not boring though. It builds on an accurate tagline by doing three specific things:

  1. acknowledging who the reader is (and isn’t)
  2. talking about a problem they face
  3. offering a solution to the problem

It doesn’t waste time summing up what the brand is or does. That’s the tagline’s job.

But it’s still the hardest part. And you might need lots of headlines, pertaining to different faces you show the world, on your website, your deck, your bylines, etcetera. A single website for a niche business might need a dozen headlines.

As you can imagine, when you have done brand messaging properly, it’s because you have an understanding of what’s behind it, the positioning, the unique value proposition, and the business model itself. The business model tells you everything you need to know about who the reader is and isn’t, the pain they face, and why they are happy to pay you to solve it.

When this work is done, it doesn’t matter too much what the call-to-action is. 

My best,