Customer Engagement

Does your Marketing Intersect Brand and Direct?

For years, advertising agencies have worked to help their clients get a compelling message out to prospective customers in the hope that these prospects will become customers.  If they are already customers, the intention is that they will become loyal and regular customers.    For the most part the creation and promotion of a brand (and sales) by advertising in several channels – print, broadcast and outdoor and most recently digital, has been the way to accomplish that.   Units are then sold, market share is gained or increased and everyone is satisfied.   Or are they?

The notion that by creating a ‘brand’, customers will gravitate and even prefer that branded product is as old as is advertising itself.   But along with that came the frustration of not exactly knowing how impactful the brand advertising actually was.   It was John Wanamaker who famously said “I know half my advertising budget is wasted – I just don’t know which half”.

Direct marketers often snicker at brand (read traditional) advertising as inaccurate, ineffective and even wasteful.    As a practitioner of direct marketing for many years, I found myself falling into that same trap.   Our thought is that direct marketing allows for a more measureable and accurate read on a marketing campaign since our results are on an individual basis.    You make an offer to a set number of people, you tabulate responses and orders and you have a response and order rate.

But using direct marketing without a brand is extremely difficult.   With no brand identity why would a customer trust a direct marketer?    The success rate for a direct response product on television can be one in thirty, so twenty-nine of out thirty fail.   There can be several reasons for that sky high failure rate, but lack of a brand would be one of, if not the top, reason.

Direct marketing is done by the numbers and that is comforting and reassuring.   Yet I’ve seen a good number of marketing managers ‘predict’ a response rate to a product with no real brand identity or history.   They almost always fail in their efforts.   It’s not all about the numbers.

To have a successful marketing campaign there has to be a clear and distinct brand identity before the initiation of any general advertising campaign, (i.e. drive people to retail stores, dealerships or even to the web) OR a direct marketing campaign (drive a response by phone, email, mail, or web).

With channel measurement becoming better every day (addressable television is here already) the intersection of brand and direct marketing is indeed at a crossroads and has never been more important.

Consider this before embarking on your next marketing campaign.

Category: Customer Engagement

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About the Author: Mark Kolier

A member of Vistage for more than five years Mark is a partner in a new agency micro-network concept called With a particular expertise in direct and digital marketing, Mark has served both business-to-business and busine

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