Little risk in pushing rewards

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GoToMeeting allows readers to instantly calculate their reward by doing a little math in the headline: “$1,000 ... One business trip (airfare, car rental and hotel) ... $49 ... Unlimited online meetings per month.”

That seems like a good return on investment to us, and there's no risk of objects tumbling down on you from an airliner's overhead bins. For more skeptical types, GoToMeeting offers a free 30-day trial of its online meeting/phone conferencing system. The company even dispenses with a visual to allow readers to focus on its simple promise of big savings.

Speed is the essence of Comcast's message to businesspeople who must convert their time into money. States the headline: “We are 10 people fast ... Internet faster than T1 means we spend our days working, not waiting.”

The promise of speed is rapidly supported in the opening line of testimonial-style text: “With Comcast Business Class, our Internet is up to 5 times faster than DSL and a T1 line. And it includes tools like Microsoft e-mail, file sharing and domain name and Web hosting to make life simple and keep us moving fast. Now we're not a small business, we're a fast business.”

Less direct in its offer of a reward is IBM Corp.'s ad that rivets the reader's initial attention on a colorful graphic resembling an eye whose iris is papered over with bar coding. We'll assume the target audience of logistics and IT managers will find that more compelling than we did. The real promise of a reward is up at the top of the ad in the headline that says: “What if your supply chain saw what you needed before you did?”

The copy goes on to say: “If a product is recalled, the supply chain knows and you're able to restock those shelves with new inventory. If a container en route to a partner is missing a part, the supply chain prompts a new shipment before operations are interrupted. ... IBM is helping companies all over the world build smarter, more self-aware supply chains.”

AT&T relies on a borrowed- interest image to make the point that its bundle of communication services is much better than its cable competitors' and can let the small-businessperson escape the office to work at home or on the road. The image of a series of sheets knotted together forming a rope ladder that leads down from an office window accompanies the headline: “Cable bundle keep you tied to the office? We have an escape plan.”

It might take readers a few moments to process the promise of the reward, which might be a few moments too long in this fast-paced, high-pressure environment.

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