The money wasted on do-nothing “corporate” advertising is truly astonishing. Here’s a “corporate” style ad I chose completely at random from Target Marketing magazine.
Okay, quick … what’s it about? Don’t know? Of course not. You have to read the teeny little block of type to find out it has something to do with email. I think it’s software, but I’m not entirely sure.
This is typical of what I call “corporate” ads. These are ads that look pretty, say little, cost a lot, and don’t work very well.
Now I want to make it clear that I’m not a direct response knuckle dragger. I do not think that everyone has to sell everything via direct marketing. Mass marketing, retailing, and other selling strategies are perfectly valid.
However, as a pragmatic marketing guy, I think that you should get what you pay for when spending money on advertising. You should know what you want to accomplish and demand that your ads use the best techniques available to get the job done.
“Corporate” ads are ads that waste money because even if they have a goal, they do very little to accomplish that goal.
The ad above, for example, wants to introduce you to a product or service and even has a free white paper to offer you. But is that instantly apparent? No. Are you likely to take the time to decipher the ad to find out what it’s about? No. Will you download the white paper? Probably not.
What does this ad do wrong? First, it’s not designed to be read. It’s just one big piece of eye-candy. Second, where’s the headline? Is it that light, gray line in 9-point type below the photo? Third, there’s an offer, but it’s hidden waaaay down at the bottom in gray, 7-point type. Fourth, the copy itself is short, small (also 7-point type), and generic. It just doesn’t tell you much.
Like most “corporate” ads, its existence is probably justified by an ad exec somewhere saying it takes “frequency” to get a message across or that the ad establishes an “image” for the product. Or maybe there’s a creative brief somewhere claiming this is a “positioning” ad.
But you know the real reason? The company doesn’t know how to sell or they’ve been convinced that selling is “lowbrow” and beneath them. They probably think that you can either position your product OR sell, but not both, which is a common misconception.
Any competent copywriter could write a benefit headline, copy that explains what’s so great about this product, and a call to action that makes you want to get that white paper. Nearly any designer could lay out this ad to catch the eye, make reading easy, and highlight important items, such as the headline and offer.
And you know what? It would not only get a better response, it would do a better job of establishing an “image” and “positioning” the product because it would actually engage readers, communicate clearly, and entice people to get involved with the ad.
By the way, the title of the white paper is “Engagement Marketing: Partnering With Your Customer for Success.” Is that irony or what?