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Of all the different categories of advertising out there, informative advertising is the best for customer education and more complicated products or services. After all, people have to understand what your product is and the problem that it solves before they can contextualize whether it’s right for them.
You may have experience with informative advertising’s counterpart, persuasive advertising, or perhaps you’re new to ads but know that you’ll begin with an informative advertising focus. In either case, the tips and concepts below will help you see the benefits, challenges, and risks involved with this advertising style. The more you know, the more effective your campaign will be in the first few iterations.
First, let’s briefly clarify: informative advertising is meant to inspire customer actions based on facts and concrete information. It is often presented as the opposite of persuasive advertising, but in fact, the two work best when combined. Understanding the more common persuasive tactics like active language and describing benefits over features will all contribute to your success, so take that knowledge with you as you venture into this new territory. Lead with facts and then use emotion, humor, etc., to close the deal.
One common example of informative advertising you’ve likely seen is in prescription drug commercials when side effects are mentioned. The information is delivered as quickly as possible while still being clearly understood and is not delivered with any flair or persuasive edge. The commercial is mostly persuasive but uses an informative section to filter out those not suited to the drug. This way, by the end, only the most ideal customers are still paying attention.
Image via Flickr by catherinecronin
Much informative advertising is also educational, so for the sake of your brand’s reputation and future, double-check everything. Chances are you won’t flat-out misunderstand the facts and provide wrong information, but the real danger comes in presenting information in a misleading way. For example, let’s say a company selling health-focused fruit juice blends releases ads about a lesser-known, exotic fruit found to be the best source of antioxidants. However, if there was only one variety of the fruit researched, one the business doesn’t juice, that’s misleading.
It’s also extremely important that your information is up-to-date but has also stood the test of time. There should be multiple studies confirming the information you present, but little to no new studies contradicting it. Be able to back up every single thing you assert with credible sources who, for the time being, have the latest scientifically supported assertions. Even if you have to shine a light on your product’s weaknesses, accuracy comes first.
Software companies, automakers, and other businesses who regularly update their products will need informative advertising to explain and justify the changes and keep customers in the loop. An automaker could present several studies about climate change and fossil fuel usage as an introduction to its newer, more efficient vehicles. If a business changes their product without properly explaining why, customers will see the changes as frivolous and might even lose familiarity with the brand.
It’s also vital that informative advertising is used to justify a change in direction that upsets the customer base. A phone and network service company could present studies showing that more people prefer bundles over individual services to justify lower prices for those who get bundles. Those who want only a single service, such as Internet or TV, won’t be happy, but the rational, fact-based decision will mitigate some of the disappointment from those left behind.
You don’t always have to look to outside sources to find credible information for your informative advertising. Consider the phone and network service example again. If the information came from surveys of their own customers, all the better, because while it’s not broad enough to be relevant outside of the specific business, it’s irrefutable for the business itself. As long as the survey is extensive enough to paint a believable picture of their average customer, the changes to satisfy the majority should be beneficial.
Always include data specific to your business when possible, because it makes you look committed and introspective. Online video games tend to do this, showing off their latest patches and content updates and listing some reasons for certain changes supported by user data. It’s arguable that all subscription services, or anything with a long-term relationship between business and customer, should gather data, analyze it, use it to make changes, and then make those changes known.
Even when you follow the points above, your informative ads can fall at the last hurdle if they fail to allure the viewer. Basic ad design principles and attention-grabbing techniques are no less important than they are for persuasive advertising. In fact, the dry nature of the ad copy makes accessibility even more crucial. If you don’t keep a person’s attention, they won’t read or listen, and even if they do, they could forget within the hour.
Be careful about how much you explain your informative points. It’s best to keep paragraphs spaced out and videos short by explaining the basic conclusions of your sources and then linking to them or referring to them. This way your audience can get the full story easily, but most will simply take the key points you lay out and believe them, as long as they’re not too surprising or controversial.
Persuasive advertising is fantastic for people who are pre-sold on what you offer, but many businesses require some amount of trust and context to attract customers. To that end, people trust your brand a lot more when you provide them with information. Whether you’re introducing potential customers to what your product does or explaining your recent product updates to current customers, you can’t shy away from the more serious side of advertising.
If you ever have concerns about writing good informative ad copy that fulfills all your needs and grabs the right customers, consider hiring a professional copywriter with experience in advertising. It’s especially powerful when a single creative mind is coming up with your ads, combining information and persuasion in the best ways possible.