Warning: Nerd Alert. Nerd Alert. (But I’ll make this easy.)

Ever wonder why some of your climate communications work better than others? Some emails get more opens. Some campaigns get more calls to your elected officials. Some fundraising gets more responses? Once you master this secret magic formula, it will change your life forever. Here it is.

C=4m + 3v +2(i-f) -2a

WHAT? OMG. STOP, this is too hard!

But don’t stop now. Because that’s the pointresistance is futile!

While the default moto of the political and climate movements over the last four years has been RESIST, in marketing and communications, resistance is your enemy. These are the last terms of the equation. Stick with me for a second. I will say it in simple non-technical terms.

What I want, plus what you got, minus the hassle of getting it, results in whether I act.

If we want people to act, we need to increase their motivation, be clear about what we are offering and make it easy for them to take the next steps.

(I’ll insert the technical summary here, but you can skip to the next paragraph: The number of conversions is equal to four times the motivation of the user, plus three times the clarity of the value proposition, plus twice the quantity of the incentive to take action minus the friction element, minus twice the anxiety of acting. This formula was developed by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin and deals with page conversions. A more detail explanation can be found here. But let’s look at how this applies to communications in general.)

Let me give you an example. I received two emails the other day to call my Governor’s office to leave a message to extend the Department of Commerce’s appeal on Line 3. Wow! That sounds complicated. My resistance is already high. But so is my motivation (another story).

One email gave a lengthy explanation of what the appeal was all about and a telephone number. Mehh. Skip this email. It’s too much work. My head hurts, I need to figure out what I’ll say, I even have to dial the number. These are all resistance factors. In other words the resistance to acting is high. This is not to mention my anxiety if a live person answers the phone.

The other email had a direct phone link to a call prep that then connected me to the Governor’s office. It coached me through what to say, assured me I was going to leave a message, and then dialed the office when I was ready. Very low resistance. So I did it. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know I was progressing down that path it was so easy. And after I was done, I got an email telling me what a hero I was! I felt good.

This is a simple example, but we can apply the principle to all our communications. Too often we assume our audience is ready to take action. Too many times we aren’t clear about what we are asking, or the values we support. We don’t take time to tell a story that makes our audience connect with us and our cause. And then we place burden upon burden on their path.

One way to become aware of all the obstacles you might place in your audience’s path is to imagine you are the audience. Then test the path. Am I motivated? Is my proposition clear? Have I reduced friction and anxiety?

Finally, in climate communications, not only is it important to overcome resistance, but it is important to make people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. This is the motivation part of the equation. It is our vision for a cleaner more just world. It is the endorphin rush they get by acting, the feel of accomplishment and being thanked and praised. We often forget this last step. We’ve worked hard to get our point across and get someone to take a small action. When we don’t complete the step of rewarding action, we create future resistance.

The Borg know the concept of resistance. They promise safety and security, but make it easy to give in (low resistance).  Follow their example, but fight the machine. Try to lower resistance the next time you need action.


‘We are all connected. Savor the Earth!’™

Hobart Stocking
Facebook: @SkyWaterEarthConnected
Twitter: @SkyWaterEarth