Welcome to 2020!

I’m in business to serve my customers well. In turn, I get financially compensated for the work I do. If I served enough customers well, I made enough money to keep me and the company going. So far, so good. Thank you to all my customers who have trusted me. I look forward to keeping that trust going forward.

I enjoy providing honest, ethical, practical, actionable advice to my customers. My opinion is this is the best way to stay in business. Here’s a piece of advice I would like to share with everyone this year: Learn the difference between Brand Marketing and Direct Marketing.

Brand vs Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is what you do when you are trying to create an immediate customer response. Brand advertising creates awareness and helps build reputation. Both are important, but only one can be measured easily. I’m hoping you can guess which one that is 😉

Here’s an interesting way to think about the roles of each type of marketing.

  • You help people buy using Direct Marketing
  • You help people choose you using Brand Marketing

Direct Marketing Characteristics

Any form of communication that includes a Call to Action (CTA) of some sort can be considered direct marketing.

Physical Examples:

  • Newspaper ads
  • Yellow Pages ads
  • Coupons
  • Billboards
  • Flyers
  • Mail
  • Faxing
  • In-person sales

Digital / Non-Physical Examples:

  • Email
  • Telemarketing
  • Texting
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Social Media ads
  • PPC (Google AdWords etc.)

In short, any marketing you do that says “buy now”, “call us at”, “click here”, or asks the recipient to do something NOW is direct marketing.

The responses to direct marketing campaigns can be tracked. When you mail out a flyer, post an ad, or tweet an offer you can measure the response. This is what most people hope for from their marketing.

Brand Marketing Characteristics

In contrast, brand marketing isn’t specifically intended to generate an immediate sale. A company’s “brand” goes beyond its logo or business cards. Your business’ brand is your company’s identity in the market. It encompasses things as diverse as product quality, trustworthiness, commitment to sustainability, and more. It is an intangible asset that you create by your actions.

The purpose of brand marketing is to create or reinforce positive perceptions about your business in your target market. Enhancing credibility, creating positive emotional connections, and increasing customer loyalty are all ways brand marketing works. Creating positive feelings about your brand motivates your customers to purchase from you when the time is right. Brand marketing supports your direct marketing efforts, making them more effective.

This is why companies specialize in “branding”. Creating a positive mental image of a company starts with first impressions, so logos, business cards, letterhead, and websites are all important elements. However, once the first impressions are done, the hard work begins. You create your company’s brand in people’s minds by the stories you tell and the actions you take. If your story and actions are aligned, your brand’s message will be strong.

Companies with Strong Brands

When you see any an ad from any of these companies, you know what they stand for and what to expect from them. That’s the power of their brand.

  • Apple
  • Tesla
  • Nike
  • Coca-Cola
  • Starbucks
  • McDonald’s
  • Walmart
  • Tim Horton’s

It’s not the logos that makes these brands strong. It’s the consistent telling of a story and behaving in ways that matches.

Any marketing technique that doesn’t involve a strong CTA is brand marketing. Any advertising medium can be used for direct or brand marketing. The focus and intent of the marketing piece is what determines whether it is direct or brand marketing. Knowing the difference between the two is important if you want to spend your marketing dollars wisely.

So, what about this article? Is it direct or brand marketing? It’s mostly brand marketing. Yes, there’s a CTA at the bottom, but driving sales is not the reason I wrote this article. Part of my brand promise is providing useful information to my customers. This piece fulfills that promise.

In my opinion, hold onto your marketing dollars until you understand the difference between direct and brand marketing. Otherwise you’ll be wasting your time, spending money on marketing efforts that won’t produce the results you desire. Your online marketing efforts will naturally be divided between direct and brand marketing. If you’re looking for a company that can help with that, please give us a call. (See the CTA?)

I hope you’ve found this information helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Wishing you all the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020!