A point in the right direction

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Back in the day, the primary mission of print advertising was to warm the doorknob for the company's sales reps. That's still an important role, as is brand building. But in these digital times, a good b-to-b ad needs to drive readers to the advertiser's Web site, where a much richer story can be told or an electronic transaction can take place. ¶ It's surprising how many print ads we've encountered lately seem to treat the company's Web address as an afterthought. Maybe the company's site is an embarrassment, and it is best not to call attention to it. But most companies invest a lot of time and money in their Web sites, so why not get people there? It takes a little strategy, maybe an incentive or two and certainly smart use of design and typography in the print piece. Let's first take a look at examples of ads that fail to interest readers in the advertiser's Web site. Energy concern Petrobras brags and boasts about its exploration and production prowess in deep and ultra-deep water. But amid all the chest-thumping, there's only a scant reference to its Web site. It appears as a standalone element in the bottom left-hand corner of the ad. Designers call it the fallow corner because the reader's eye, which naturally moves from left to right and top to bottom, will settle in the bottom right-hand corner. That's why advertisers put their logo there and other things they want readers to see. The bottom line: The Petrobras Web address might just as well be in Davy Jones' locker. Deutsche Bank plants its logo on a rugged shoreline and declares that it's ready to help put clients on a sustainable course of growth in challenging times. Beneath the copy block, the bank floats its Web address against the ragged edge of a cloud, and even applies an extra measure of ink to it. But so what? Deutsche Bank gives readers no incentive to visit its Web site. The platitudes in the ad won't get them there, and the novelty of surfing the Web for the fun of it is long over. Businesspeople only go to the Web for a reason. Sun Microsystems and technology services provider Computer Sciences Corp. offer to help companies with their identity and access management programs. It's not a world-beating ad, but it does give readers a reason to visit the Web to “watch a compelling video on the importance of identity management. ...” Now that's more like it. Offer some type of reward for continuing the engagement in cyberspace. But there's one big problem: The URL in the ad is 50 characters long. That's a lot of key tapping to get to the video. Adobe Systems does a solid job of promoting its Web-conferencing software with a bright headline: “Your ideas still need to travel” and a visual that shows what the product looks like in action. To get an even better look at the product in action, Adobe's call to action invites readers to go to a special—and mercifully short—URL for a free trial of the system. That's a savvy combination of print and the Web to expedite a possible sale. Finally, there's a handsome spread from IBM Corp. with the headline: “Leaner. Meaner. Greener.” Copy describes IBM's efforts to help customers make their data centers more environmentally friendly. In the image, a technician looks over his shoulder at a friendly snake, one of several animals from the forest that have come to admire his greening of the data center. The ad ends on an effective note as it invites readers to see a webcast on IBM's greener data centers. We checked out the landing page, where a talking owl picks up where the ad left off. That's the kind of print/Web synergy that more advertisers need. M
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