“Image” advertising (another name for institutional advertising) seeks to create an image about your product or your company in the hope that people will remember you when they’re ready to buy. Most image ads say, in effect, “Buy from us. We’re wonderful.”
As far as I’m concerned, with image advertising you have to spend a fortune over a long period of time before you get any results at all. And even then, the results are virtually impossible to measure.
Direct-response advertising, on the other hand, asks for a response now. That means even one ad can bring in cash within days or weeks. Moreover, by its very nature, direct-response advertising brings in a response that can be measured. By extension, this also means you can systematically test different ads, compare one against the other, and scientifically determine which one works best.
In almost every case, direct-response advertising gives you infinitely more value, dollar for dollar, than image advertising.
Direct-response advertising induces readers, viewers, or listeners to visit your website or establishment, call or e-mail you, send in money, or drive their auto down to trade it in on a new model. Used effectively, direct-response advertising can produce tons of super-qualified, favorably oriented prospects. At its best, it literally compels people to call, write in, or buy.
And you can analyze the value, profitability, and performance of virtually any direct-response ad you run, because those responses can be tracked, analyzed, and computed.
Every marketing program should pay its own way. The only purpose of advertising or marketing is to generate sales. It is either profitable or unprofitable, based on sales dollars generated.
Unless it’s a new, first-time, customer-generating technique, every marketing program should be a profit center. If your current marketing is not measurably profitable on a per-project basis, discontinue it.
Few, if any, business owners truly understand the purpose or reason for running an ad. It’s to stimulate a direct and immediate response – either a qualified inquiry, phone call, or visit to your facility. Or, better yet, to promote an instant sale. Nothing else warrants expending the lavish funds that ads cost.
What is the biggest difference between an institutional ad and a direct-response ad? Very simple: An institutional ad is not trackable. Its purpose is merely to put a company name in front of the general public. But a direct-response ad is trackable. It asks the reader to respond in some way (by phone, by e-mail, by coupon) – so you can measure the effectiveness of the ad.
Institutional advertising, as practiced by most advertisers, is a waste. It doesn’t convey any compelling reason for the reader to favor your business over another. It doesn’t make a case for the product or service you sell.
The claims made by most institutional advertising are pathetic. In a nutshell: “Buy from me instead of my competitor for no other reason except my selfishness and avarice.”
Institutional advertising doesn’t direct the reader, viewer, or listener to any intelligent action or buying decision. It does nothing productive. It takes up time, space, and attention, and wastes enormous could-have-been assets.
Direct-response advertising is self-explanatory. It is designed to evoke an immediate response, action, visit, call, or purchasing decision from the viewer or reader. Institutional advertising produces no results to speak of.
If you are running institutional ads, change them to direct response:
Give your prospects information that’s important to them, not you.
Give them facts and performance capabilities of your product or service. Or tell them about your guarantee.
Give them reasons why your product is superior to that of your competitors on a human basis that they can understand and appreciate.
Direct-response advertising is much more effective than institutional advertising because your prospect doesn’t care one iota about you or your motivations. All the prospect cares about is what benefit your product or service renders to him.
Bottom line: Your ads should be created to stimulate a direct response in your prospects – immediate action!