Awhile back I spent some time at Borders, the giant bookseller franchise that I often frequent when I’m searching for some Internet selling tips and advice that I can’t find in the books on my own bookshelf. Unfortunately, the franchise is now out of business. Barnes and Noble still remains and a few other large bookstores . . . but could it be that Amazon has put most of these local sellers in jeopardy?
Borders is a cool place, much like a mini library where the atmosphere is pretty laid back and browsers are free to pull a book from the shelf and sit down to read a chapter or two.
I must admit that Borders’ intentions are obviously to sell books rather than play the role of a library for the cheapskates (like myself) who usually purchase books online at Amazon.
But still, they don’t seem to mind too much if I’m there and generally walk out empty-handed.
Anyway, I was in Borders checking out the latest books on marketing and advertising on the Internet. I was a little surprised at what I found.
Most of the books seemed to be focused on the cool advertising campaigns of Madison Avenue, those that had probably won some award for creativity, style, or unusualness.
Book after book contained mostly examples of graphic designer’s work and the reasons why that particular ad had been singled out for mention or praise. It almost appeared to me that “winning” advertising was all about cleverness, coolness, and being nominated for some obscure little designer award.
My personal reaction to all this glitz and glamour was simply, “I wonder if any of these fancy ads actually made any money for the sponsor?”
Yes, I realize there are multiple reasons to advertise: building brand, creating buzz, developing product credibility, and other things all are important outcomes hoped for in an ad campaign.
But on the Internet, in direct sales advertising, it’s my opinion that glitz and glamour usually distract a prospect more than they convince him to buy.
Which brings me to the question: “What is your ad attempting to do?” Do you know what you hope to gain from launching an ad online? Are you designing and writing the ad to win some creativity award or are you just trying to make as much money as you can?
If your answer is the latter, I believe you need to keep the ad straightforward, simple, and without the confusion of numerous graphics, flashing banners, twirly things, and cutesy sayings.
You’re not trying to impress an art director or entertain a crowd of customers with your HTML and JAVA skills. Your narrative is not written to appeal only to techno-geeks, industry insiders, and the few people that can speak the jargon of the technical experts.
Direct sales marketing is all about grabbing attention, pulling the reader into a story with emotional involvement, ushering him down a narrowing path and ending with his credit card action on your behalf.
Ad copy and carefully chosen words accomplish this task much better than distracting and annoying graphics. I am a graphics lover, if truth be known … but I can tell you with all sincerity that graphics should only enhance, illustrate, or support the copywriting in direct marketing – not take the place of it.
Remember that selling direct to the customer is best accomplished with simplicity of purpose, focus on benefits, engaging dialogue, and a call to action right then and there. At the same time, the risk of loss to the buyer must clearly be overcome so there is no risk.
To your online business success!