Directive vs. Creative Advertising

One of the first questions I ask any client before I start doing marketing for them is whether their product or service is already in demand or whether they need to create the demand. The significance of this question lies in the directive vs. creative approach to advertising.

Let me review.

Directive advertising is where the buyer is seeking out the seller. Most common directive media has been printed Yellow Pages, however, with the advent of the Internet, online directories, like and search engines, like have become great directive tools. There is literally no difference between the following 3 directive approaches:

1) user picks up a printed Yellow Pages book, flips through to the furniture section, finds a furniture dealer and visits the retail location

2) user visits, , types in furniture dealer in Calgary, finds a furniture dealer, visits their online web site, then visits their retail location

3) users visits, , types in calgary furniture dealers, finds a furniture dealer, visits their online web site, then visits their retail location

Notice the exact same buying pattern above. The directive approach to advertising is where your products and services already have a built in demand, all your business is trying to do is capture that demand. Another way of looking at this, people are buying your products and services, the only question are they buying from you.

I have discussed numerous times before that we don’t get to control how people use the directive medium to find us, the only thing we control is whether we position our business in all the available places to capture this demand.

Creative advertising is where the seller is seeking out the buyer. Typically, television, newspaper, radio, banner campaigns on web sites etc. are all creative advertising mediums. The goal is that you use this mediums to build brand and to capture immediate sales by reaching a portion of “in the market” consumers. People tend to use creative advertising mediums on a regular basis, for news, weather, sports, and entertainment, which makes this type of advertising effective in capturing the “in the market” crowd of prospects who are planning to purchase your products or services, within a timeframe, dependent on product or service.

Creative advertising is also the ultimate brand building tool. Where you continue to promote your message on a regular basis through the various mediums you are trying to position yourself as the top of mind choice when a person enters the market for your products and services.

Creative advertising, when used in conjunction with directive advertising, can deliver a strong One-Two punch. Example) Let’s take a furniture store that advertises in TV, newspaper, a little radio, and some banner campaigns on the Internet. As a prospect I have seen the advertising on many occasions but was never ready to buy. Now I am in the market, and I want to find the furniture stores phone number, web site, or physical address. If I happened to see your ad that day in the newspaper, I have the information handy, if I did not, there is a good chance I am going to go to a directive source to find your information.

As I scroll through the printed Yellow Pages, look online at or, am I seeing the same message that you have branded to me through all your creative advertising? If so, then your sales are probably rocking, if not, then you are probably missing sales that your business’s creative advertising campaign worked hard to build.

When planning your marketing, ask yourself these questions:

1) Do my prospects already search for the products and services I sell? In other words, there is already a built-in demand, the only question is are they buying from me or from my competitors?

2) If I plan to use creative advertising as my lead way of marketing, have I fully protected my business’s interest by ensuring that I can be found in all directive advertising mediums to support my creative campaign?