Understanding The Direct vs. Brand Marketing Conflict

It's not one or the other, but one feeding the other that works best

by Jason Falls |

The direct-response marketer is a hard nut to crack. He believes strongly that there is one way to communicate with an audience: Make an offer.

Certainly, he will concede that you have to have customer service, but this is a gnat-like cost of doing business. It’s not real marketing communications to the direct-response marketer because it doesn’t bring with it the important metrics of response rate and conversion rate. If it has those, then it’s real.

When a brand marketer – someone who understands and believes in branding, public relations, social media and other forms of marketing communications – enters the picture with a direct-response marketer, there is conflict. She can produce a response rate and a conversion rate, but because her goals and objectives are often very different than producing direct response sales, they never compare positively.

Direct Marketing vs. Brand MarketingBrand marketing often has the goal of awareness, which aides in conversion, but doesn’t necessarily produce it. Brand marketing can also have the goals of reputation management, customer service, community engagement, advocacy and more. Direct marketing has one goal: Convert prospects to customers or, more simply, drive sales.

The direct marketer looks at brand marketing and says, “We shouldn’t do that because it doesn’t convert as well.” But if the direct marketer looks at brand marketing as communications that creates an easier environment for him to convert – something that aides his efforts – then an organization becomes more efficient.

Think of the two types of brand communications like this:

  • Direct-Response Marketing Helps People Buy
  • Brand Marketing Helps People Choose

If the prospective audience is aware, thinks positively of and has a previous interaction or relationship with a company, it is infinitely more likely to CHOOSE to BUY from that company when it finds itself in the buying mode. When presented with the direct marketing communication, it will say “Yes” with more frequency.

Direct marketing without brand marketing is less than efficient. It’s not a matter of comparing brand marketing’s conversion rates to direct marketing’s. It’s a matter of analyzing direct marketing’s conversion rates with and without it.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).