|Too often, small business advertising and marketing campaigns prioritize branding at the expense of direct response--i.e., actually getting leads and/or sales right now. That is almost always a foolish and even dangerous proposition.
Small Business Branding Advertising and Marketing an Oxymoron?
Unless you're a ubiquitous consumer products company, the value of branding is far, far less than the value of direct response. What good is impressing someone with your brand if he or she never comes into contact with your business again? Why would they come into contact with your business again if you haven’t gotten a direct response?
Branding is essential for Coca Cola and Microsoft and all the other consumer giants because they don't need direct response. Their offering is available every time you drive down the street, so burning their logos into your eyeballs will actually make you more likely to buy. But if you have to search out the business, having a logo floating in your consciousness won't be enough to motivate you.
Even if branding alone could drive business, how long will it be before that logo or slogan or jingle has left your memory forever? A few hours? A day?
One of the basic requirements for branding is repetition. Numerous repetitions. Like seeing the little Microsoft flag every single day, in the lower left corner of your screen, on your computer's case, in magazine advertisements and on television commercials.
One visit to your website or one glimpse of your advertisement won't accomplish this—and remember, unless you have Microsoft’s budget, one exposure is all you’ll likely get if you don't get a direct response.
In reality, even numerous exposures to your brand might not be enough. There's only so much room for logos in people's minds, and you've got an awful lot of deep-pocketed competition for that space.
In contrast, if someone requested a whitepaper from you, or called in for more information, you would have their attention for much longer, even if you never followed up--which you could do, since you had their contact information.
The Two Cases when Branding Makes Small Business Marketing Sense
1. When branding enhances direct response rather than detracting from it.
Good branding enhances trust in your business. A good tagline, graphic design, and logo can also make it instantly clear what your business does, allowing users to go directly to your message without having to decide if you’re worth listening to.
Simply put: if you’re a watchmaker, put a watch in your logo, and the word “watch” in your name and your tagline or slogan. When you’re selling services picking a logo can be trickier, but it can be done. UpMarket Content’s logo is a scroll and pen. Just make sure your logo communicates what you do, rather than something foolish like a black rocket for an advertising agency.
Yet while branding usually enhances direct response, you should not hesitate to sacrifice branding if it hurts your response. If you find that a different tagline or font does significantly better in getting responses, run with them.
2. When you actually do have the opportunity to impress your brand on the same person dozens of times over the course of an average month.
For branding to work, you don’t just have to maximize total exposures, but exposures to unique individuals. Let’s be absolutely clear: in terms of branding, exposing 1,000,000 people to your brand once each is infinitely less valuable than exposing 1,000 people to your brand 1,000 times each. You have to maximize exposures to the same individuals. Aim for a hundred exposures per individual if you want to really enter people’s consciousnesses.
Of course, it may take far fewer than a thousand individual exposures. If someone is sitting in front of your branding advertisement for more than a few minutes, they may in fact be exposed to it dozens of times, each time their line of sight crosses it. But this kind of long-term exposure is likely going to cost you more.
How can you ensure that your brand advertising will maximize your brand exposure per unique individual? Place your brand advertising where users will come back often to see it. For instance, a banner on a website that has a strong following of returning users, or an advertisement on the local diner's placemat.
Even when branding does make sense, direct response will often also make sense, so you should combine the two if possible. For instance, at the bottom of a banner advertisement with your logo and tagline looming large, put a button labeled “get more information.” Or, underneath your businesses sign, put a telephone number with an offer to get more information.
Because if they never visit or call, who cares if they have your logo burnt onto their retinas?
About the Author
Joel Walsh is a professional content writer and founder of UpMarket Content, whose site has information on promoting your business with great website content: http://upmarketcontent.com [When posting on the web, please hyperlink this text as the visible anchor text: "website content"]
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