Direct Response Marketing vs. Branding

By December 6, 2013Strategy

I remember when I first entered the world of direct response. I had come from an e-commerce startup that rarely spent any money on media buying; that business had the fortunate position of growing organically through word of mouth. But, not all of us have that luxury, and to grow your online business, I quickly learned the importance of media buying. Direct response marketing quickly taught me the value of performance marketing, creative testing, and optimization.

I’m sure many of you don’t need a lesson on the ABC’s of direct response, but for those of you who don’t, let’s review the basics:

  • What is direct response marketing? To me, direct response is a facet of performance marketing where communications are meant to evoke a direct and specific action from the consumer – often a monetary action, a sale (or what we would call a conversion). However, this could also be a push to call a toll-free number for more information about a product, it could be a push to visit a certain website, but usually the end of the tunnel is a push to buy. So, in layman’s terms, your media buys are supposed to show a direct return on investment (ROI); you are pushing a sales action (we call this a conversion) from your audience.
  • How is this different from other types of marketing? Most marketers fall into this other, very large bucket. This second bucket is what I call “branding.” This is the marketing you’re likely more used to – the marketing around you every day. These “branders” include companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, Target, Apple. The idea here is to create awareness through ad spend and creative positioned to create a specific idea and reinforce that message. The hope is that when a consumer is making a decision, they’ll unconsciously think of your brand first. So when you’re standing in front of that vending machine, and you have a choice between Coca-Cola, Root Beer, Sierra Mist, and Dr. Pepper, you’ll choose Coca-Cola. The problem with this type of marketing is the difficulty to quantify your ad campaigns; you often lose sight of the ROI on your campaigns. Plus, running a “branding” campaign requires substantially more budget.

 Next week, I’ll dive into how these ideas take form into actual creative—banners, landing pages, email, brand site, etc.—and the importance of testing each of these touchpoints.

I’ll leave you with an interesting article I came across on Direct Marketing News on the value of testing your web site. Enjoy!

Cheers,
Brian Deutsch
Director of Marketing, Hawke Media
brian@hawkemedia.com

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