Using Direct and Brand Marketing in Your Business.

In the past direct and brand marketers have normally stood on the opposites sides of the fence, when it comes to which type of marketing is better. Over the last several years, with the changes in the economy, brand advertisers have wanted to account for each advertising dollar that they spend. So they have incorporated direct marketing components into their advertising strategies.

And with so much marketing, now being done online and especially through social media, it is important for direct marketers to communicate one particular logo/image across all social media channels. Direct marketers are still appealing to specific niches for their products and services, but brand marketing strategies are becoming more prevalent with traditional direct marketing companies.  

So what is the difference between the two types of marketing and more importantly how can you use both to grow your business?

First, we will look at brand marketing and then compare it to direct marketing.

Brand Marketing

The definition of brand marketing according to The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name.”

The easiest way to describe brand marketing, is that your promoting your brand in hopes that people will remember you, when the times comes for them to make a purchase. Results of each individual marketing medium are not really tracked. The company just looks at the overall sales and compares those to the overall marketing expenses to see if the campaign was profitable.

One of the easiest examples of brand marketing is to think of the way athletic shoes are marketed. Normally, the shoe company will use a sports celebrity in the advertisement.

    1.    You may see the player wearing the shoes, while playing their sport.

    2.    You may see TV commercials with the player and the shoes.

    3.    You may see a banner ad online on a sports website.

    4.    And then you will see a large poster of the player in the front window of the shoe store you are about to enter, before you purchase your shoes.

All of this advertising is to get you to remember that particular shoe or celebrity, when you walk into the shoe store to buy your shoes.

There are two main problems when trying to use brand advertising.

    1.    It is very expensive. You are trying to implant your image into the mind of your customer, so they remember you. This can cost a whole lot of money to do this.

    2.    There is no means of measuring which advertisement is working and which one is not.

This is why I do NOT recommend doing strictly a branding campaign, without at least some form of direct marketing component, where you can at least measure the response of the ads.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is also known as Interactive Marketing, Direct Response Marketing and the highest level of direct marketing is known as Database Marketing.  

So what exactly is direct marketing? According to Lisa Spiller’s textbook Contemporary Direct and Interactive Marketing, the definition of direct marketing is a database driven interactive process of directly communicating with targeted customers or prospects using any medium to obtain a measurable response or transaction via one or multiple channels.

That is a very accurate definition of direct marketing, but let me try to simplify the definition and explain it to you, in a much easier way as it relates to your business.

There are 3 main components to direct marketing are:

    1)    It is database driven

    2)    The advertising that you are doing is very targeted to your customers and prospects

    3)    Each marketing medium requires some means of measuring a response.

With this type of marketing you really don’t care about branding your logo, you are more concerned with who responded, and to what offer did they respond.  

Now let’s look a little more in depth at each of these components of direct marketing.

1.) The Database

The database can be anything that can store names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. The more information you have about your customers the easier it is to target other prospects similar to your current customers.  Databases can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet (this is normally referred to as a customer list, instead of a database.)  But it is even better, if you have a relational database that can measure response rates from each marketing medium and each client, while tracking what the client purchased and the date they purchased.

For instance, say you have a client that has bought 2 or 3 times from you and is in your database. Moreover you have the wedding anniversary dates of your clients. By looking at your database, you realize that this client is about to have their wedding anniversary. Knowing this piece of information gives you a reason to contact the client, plus you know the client has a reason to buy and there is a concrete date in which they have to purchase. You can put together a special offer for this client, and refer them to your website to purchase or invite them to visit your place of business.

Now imagine you have 1200 clients in your database, and by looking at your database, you realize on any given month there is between 50 – 100 clients having an anniversary that month.  By contacting these clients, on the month of their anniversary, and making them a special anniversary offer, this should yield a substantial increase in monthly and yearly sales. This is done at very little expense in regards to time and money to generate these additional sales. This is the power of a database.

2.) The Advertising is Very Targeted to Your Customers and Prospects

Another difference between brand marketing and direct marketing is that direct marketing is very targeted and focused, where as brand marketing is more of a general broadcast.  To use a gun analogy, direct marketing is like using a rifle, where as brand marketing is like using a shotgun.

With direct marketing you know exactly who your customers are, because of your database. Therefore, it is easier to find more prospects similar to your current customers, because you know exactly, who your customers are.  By knowing who your customers are, it tells you, where to advertise. The more focused your advertising becomes, the higher the response rate to your advertising and the more profit you will earn. Also, you save money on advertising by not wasting money on ads that are not targeted to prospects that are similar to what is in your database. With direct marketing, the database allows you to know who your customers are, and in turn that drives your marketing and advertising.  

3.) Each Marketing Medium Requires Some Means of Measuring Response.

A response can consist of anything from an inquiry phone call, an email, a click to a specific website, a sale, etc.  A response is normally any means, where a targeted prospect performs a specific measurable action that is requested by the company running the advertisement. 

Why is it important to develop some way of telling which advertisement generates a response? Being able to tell, who responds to which ads, allows you to determine:

    1.    Your return on investment for each ad.

    2.    Which ad is profitable and which ad is not.

    3.    It also allows you to test competing ads against each other to see which one generates the greatest response.

So consider the example of using your database to send offers to clients with anniversaries. Upon looking at your database, you start looking at who actually purchased from the anniversary offer.  You notice that of the 50- 100 people each month that you sent an anniversary offer, you have seven or eight people that actually purchased from you each month.

Now Valentine’s Day is approaching, do you think it would be a good idea to send the clients that actually purchased from your anniversary offer a different Valentine’s Day offer, than you send the rest of your customers?

This gives you another reason to contact clients that have purchased from you in the past and it also gives the client another reason to purchase from you, with another concrete deadline in which they have to purchase.

In conclusion, brand marketing and direct marketing are completely different advertising strategies, but many brand marketing campaigns are starting to incorporate a direct marketing component to their advertising. And direct marketing campaigns are starting to incorporate some elements of brand marketing. You can use both direct and brand marketing in your business to drive revenue and grow your business.  

About Charles George

Charles is an entrepreneur, who is passionate about combining direct response marketing with Facebook’s ad platform.

He is also an advocate for creating awareness about congenital heart disease in children after his own 3-year-old son, Thomas, endured 3 heart surgeries and passed away after complications from the 3rd heart surgery.

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