Many are not familiar with the difference between Direct Response Advertising/Copywriting and General Advertising/Copywriting, but it is important for both individuals and businesses to know the difference.
For example, watch the Coca-Cola commercial below first, then continue reading.
When watching the video below ask yourself a week from now how much more or less likely you would be to purchase Coca-Cola or any other Cola brand, e.g., Pepsi, or if you would be more inclined to purchase Coca-Cola in general after watching this Ad/Commercial (you can substitute Coke for any other brand, product or service, this is simply an example of general advertising)?
These type of general advertising ads have no realistic way of measuring how effective the ad is in terms of increased sales or any other meaningful measure, whereas Direct Response can be measured immediately based on the results, which means it can also be adjusted to be more effective.
On the other hand, below you will find a Commercial/Ad by David Ogilvy, one of Advertising's legends, and one of if not the best Direct Response Copywriters.
Now watch the video below and note the difference in this advertisement (informative, explains the product, and demonstrates/distinguishes the product from its competitors via an objective test).
Furthermore to this day, Shell creates Ads that mirror the one below, which seems to have popularized it's "Shell V-Power" gasoline among the general public and car enthusiast.
Commercial # 2 Direct Response Advertising/Brand Response:
1) The commercial begins by introducing the setting with iconic images of America that communicate honesty, trust, familiarity, and reassurance that Shell is a homegrown company with American values (even if Shell isn't technically an American company, the Ad conveys the message that it is American enough).
2) The commercial features relevant information on the product.
3) Distinguishes Shell's product from regular gasoline without Plaformate.
4) Demonstrates the difference/benefit between Shell's gasoline w/ Plaformate and regular gasoline through an objective test.
5) The commercial closes by bringing the viewer’s attention back to the company: "We do everything we can at Shell to make our sign stand for excellence: in the products we bring you, in service we give you, at Shell stations everywhere." In other words, they've demonstrated that their product is great, but they went the extra mile and let viewers know that the company and its employees are equally as great.
6) The Shell gasoline commercial is almost double the length of the cola commercial (approximately 1:02 vs. 1:58). Longer ads tend to perform better than short ads especially if the audience's interest is kept.
Commercial # 1 General Advertising:
This commercial is used to create awareness of the company/brand and the product. It does not focus on sales because this is not its intention (Ken Stewart the creator of polar bears, based the bears off of his Labrador that looked like a polar bear, it has nothing to do with cola). If a product or service is virtually indistinguishable from its competitor, general advertising is often more effective and should be used in long term advertising campaigns because it is about exposure and top of the mind marketing.
Small businesses, individuals, and startups benefit the most from direct response advertising, because the results are immediate, whereas branding is something that has to be built up. For example, when you first launch your business, you really need those first few sales or recognition from a credible source before you can begin taking yourself seriously or begin creating your brand. In other words, if you generate a brand out of thin air with zero credibility & no sales you will not succeed with branding alone.
On the other hand take an infomercial for example, which is a very effective form of direct response advertising: despite the fact that people generally don't like these type of ads, they are extremely effective in terms of sales. More importantly, rarely are you familiar with the brand being sold, and if the brand is somewhat established they are generally speaking mediocre at best, but they still sell. Also, consider that even established companies occasionally use infomercials as a means to quickly reduces their inventory or as a way to gain publicity (it is by no means a coincidence).
Essentially the incorporation and use of direct response copy is a crucial component to the success of both individuals & businesses.
Based on our analysis, both forms of advertising are useful and necessary depending on the type of business/product/service. Also based on the breakdown of the above examples it is easy to see how each type of advertising works and in which instance a business will receive the greatest benefit from the different types of advertising.
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Direct response is a unique form of copywriting that does not require branding to be successful. In other words, it is not a prerequisite for a potential customer to know about your business or brand. As a result, excellent direct response copywriting alone can convince potential customers to perform a desired action or task, e.g., to call you, visit your store, or visit your website, etc.
For example, from 1975 to 2003 The Wall Street Journal sent out a 2 page sales letter written by a direct response copywriter that brought in more than a billion dollars of revenue (through subscriptions from a single sales letter). In other words, why would you leave your copy to just anyone and not a skilled direct response copywriter.
Direct response copy is the sales of advertising writing, it is effective, measurable, and can be improved upon by adjusting the variables. It is the type of advertising writing small businesses & individuals want in their ads. Think of direct response copy as persuasive writing for business.
If you aren't familiar with the term copy: copy refers to the words used in an advertisement. At Naughty Copy Advertising we primarily write direct response copy. This type of copy requests the audience to take action, whereas general copy does not have a call to action. General copy is frequently used by large companies that aren't primarily concerned with their bottom line but are focused on exposure. This is why most big advertising agencies tout branding and creativity instead of sales and growth. Both have their place, but for small and medium size business direct response is the more effective form of copy mainly because it has a measurable return on investment (ROI), since growth is still the primary concern of small/medium size businesses it is the way to go.