In the previous two posts, I described two fundamental advertising styles: Image-rich branding ads and text-rich direct response messages. These concepts were developed in the days of print media; and have been adapted in various forms for broadcast electronic and online media. As a rule, branding ads are designed to catch attention for brief attention spans, while the direct response advertising is most effective by drawing readers into the story, and holding them as long as you can — resulting in massive text-rich ads, 30-minute broadcast infomercials or those long, scrolling, call-to-action Internet marketing advertisements.
Is one style better than another?
Clearly, if your goal is to attract immediate business and direct orders, then you want people to act rather than just read/view. This means at a minimum, your conventional/branding advertising should have a call to action and a response mechanism, if only to attract the reader to a direct-response page.
However, you don’t need to be heavy-handed. I think the really brutal long-form advertisements scream “scam” and in any case, most of the time, you shouldn’t expect readers to fill in a credit card form or call your 800 call center to make a quick order. Your best bet will probably be to induce readers to provide their email address (and permission to send follow-up emails) in exchange for a white paper, resource document or some other truly valuable and useful material that will help promote your business, but provide your potential client with tangible, useful information.
In this context, the graphics rich brand-type advertisement with a direct response mechanism will, I think, provide the highest value. It will reflect well on your business and still attract worthy client inquiries.
However, you may also wish to test a harder-rock direct-response format — text rich, again leading to the inquiry form and follow-up material. It may not look so good, but if it draws more qualified responses, then you might elect to put the graphics aside and focus on real selling.