Why the majority of online creative fails

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Brian Schwartz
Brian Schwartz
It's not that I'm looking for trouble. And the last thing I want is to get into it with marketing VPs throughout the direct marketing world. But day after day, I see creative on the web that I know does not perform well. Why would any company in its right mind not do its best to find and use killer creative? A few observations:

Why bother?
Many companies with an online presence don't see a need for using experienced copywriters and designers. Some opt for using woefully inexperienced individuals to do their creative for them. I've known of office temps, sales reps, human resources personnel, and even one dog walker that have been used to write and design for the web.

Another avenue taken is the ultimate money saver – just see what creative the competition is using and copy it. It's a dangerous path to take because it's based on the assumption that the creative is working well for the other company. I've had my work “borrowed” before, and let me just start by saying how flattered I was. But even though this creative "burned out" years ago, I still see it being used by others on the web.

Magical powers!

The online creative consultant. Solve all your creative needs with the SEO master! Wouldn't it be great if it were just that easy? Unfortunately, it's not. There has been an unnatural morphing lately of skills that just don't play well together. Search engine marketing expertise has become critically important for obvious reasons. Where your websites rank on search engines can dictate whether your company will succeed or fail.

So, where does creative come in? Exactly. Beware of the SEO expert who counts creative as part of their skill set. It's becoming painfully clear that the SEO skills that get your Web sites top rankings are often in conflict with the creative skills needed to get a user to act once they're on your Web site. What is required is a real partnership between your SEO experts and experienced DM creatives.

In DM creative, you'll sometimes find that "pretty" doesn't perform. We've all seen examples of the loud, garish, most intrusive piece of creative outperforming the sweetest piece of flash-infused brilliance. The problem comes when company execs refuse to use creative that doesn't meet their vision of what creative should be. They need to remember that the only creative that really matters is the creative that induces users to respond. I'm fortunate to work for a company that values results above all else.

The big finish

There is hope for any company looking to gain a competitive edge through proven direct marketing creative, and it doesn't necessarily involve spending a lot. It simply requires a willingness to embrace the potential direct marketing creative offers and forego the more narrow definition of creativity.


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