The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
There are many today who advocate direct response marketing to the exclusion of other marketing channels. These are very silly people.
The problem isn’t that direct response marketing (which I define as advertising with a concrete offer and a measurable response mechanism) isn’t important and necessary. It’s just not sufficient. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even close.
The real issue isn’t what direct response measures, but what it doesn’t. Those that ignore other marketing channels either aren’t aware of the facts or are just not thinking clearly.
The Allure of Direct Response Marketing
The case for direct response marketing is logical: Why waste money on lots of fuzzy concepts when you can directly spur sales and get clear, measurable results? Unfortunately, the results aren’t as clear as they might seem and branding isn’t as nebulous as direct response advocates often claim.
Firstly, direct response campaigns vary widely in their results. Some of this is due to how well the campaign itself is executed, but a lot has to do with how strong the brand being promoted is and what other promotion is going on at the same time. Marketing channels work better in combination than they do as isolated entities.
Secondly, branding metrics are as measurable as anything else. Many corporations regularly track their brands and can access brand data as easily as they do sales data. You can be sure that successful, profit oriented enterprises wouldn’t continue to do so unless they had clearly established a link between the two.
In truth, there is a lot more to a purchase than simply seeing an offer and responding to it.Read More
The following commandments do not come from a mountaintop. They come from many years of experience in categories from caskets to computers and everything in between.
Thou shalt realize that perception is reality. The only reality that counts is what’s already in the prospect’s mind. It’s what “positioning” is about. Do not create something new and different, but manipulate what’s already in the mind and retie the connections that already exist. Retying those connections must result in a point of difference vs. your competitors.
Thou shalt not commit the “me-too’ mistake. Many people believe that the basic issue in marketing is convincing the prospective client that they have a better product or service. They say, “We might not be first, but we’re going to be better.” That may be true, but if you’re late into a market space and have to do battle with large, well-established competitors, then me too just won’t cut it.
Regardless of a product’s objective quality, people perceive the first brand to enter their mind as superior. Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products. When you’re a me-too, you’re a second-class citizen.
Thou shalt be aware of what you are selling. This may surprise you, but I have spent a good bit of my time over the years figuring out exactly what people are trying to sell. Defining the product category in a simple, understandable way is essential.
Companies large and small often have a tough time describing their product, especially if it’s a new category and a new technology. The biggest marketing successes came with basic, powerful explanations of the product being offered — customers knew what the companies were selling and how the products were really different.Read More
The third of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws of prediction is his most famous: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Many would argue that this describes marketing nowadays. Marketing technologies, it could be said, have become so advanced that brand marketing is now indistinguishable from magic. If true, that’s an idea – or a metaphor, really – suggestive of potentialities in modern marketing that have yet to be fully explored.
But there is a missing piece in Clarke’s third law. He doesn’t say what he means by magic. Obviously, he doesn’t mean a whiz-bang Vegas show full of pyrotechnics and spooky visitations. That’s show business not technology. So it’s helpful to begin by nailing down the notion of magic before deciding whether Clarke’s law suggests anything relevant for brand marketers.
Magicians are notoriously cagey with outsiders about their craft. But magician Alex Stone has given us an insider’s look at how magic works in his new book, Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks & the Hidden Powers of the Mind. The most important thing up every magician’s sleeve is something well-known to psychologists – inattentional blindness, or the inability of the human mind to process anything that is not the specific and direct focus of attention at that moment. We know that magician’s use misdirection to fool us, but generally speaking, we fail to realize just how powerful this is. Think of the famous viral video of Daniel J. Simons’ Monkey Business Illusion, or study the research about driving while talking on a cell phone or about attempting to multitask with any attention-grabbing technology.Read More
Each year, hundreds of graduate schools of business turn out thousands of marketing people. When they arrive on the scene, these newly minted marketers want to make their mark.
So they dismiss their advertising agencies and hire new ones. They revamp the marketing plans, even including new systems of compensation for the sales force. They change names, logos, slogans and strategy statements.
Welcome to the world of marketing. This happens every year, usually around budget time.
Actually, I didn't write those words today. I wrote them 16 years ago in an article published in the June 19, 1994, issue of The New York Times. Headline: "Marketers, Stop Your Tinkering."
That was also the year a USA Today panel of top ad agency creative directors named Little Caesars as the "best ad campaign of 1994." Maybe you remember the Cliff Freeman & Partners campaign.
"Two great pizzas for one low price." Thanks in part to its brilliant marketing program, Little Caesars that year was the second-largest pizza chain in America. Here are 1994 U.S. sales of the four major pizza chains.
- Pizza Hut: $5.4 billion
- Little Caesars: $2.1 billion
- Domino's: $1.9 billion
- Papa John's: $450 million
The following year, the tinkering began, starting with a major tinker. The company converted 30 takeout units in the Detroit area to "Little Caesars Italian Kitchens." Besides pizza, the new menu included lasagna, chicken, Greek salads, dessert pies and three kinds of pasta (tortellini, penne and farfalle). By the end of 1995, Little Caesars expected to operate 100 Italian Kitchens. Needless to say, that never happened.Read More