5 Key Variations Between Branding and Direct Response

Finding the right combination of branding and direct response marketing is critical to building brand awareness, growing your customer base, and making sales. Together, the two approaches play an important role in a company’s overall marketing strategy.

While they have to work together, branding and direct response are not the same. To successfully deliver free messaging, every marketer should understand the key differences in campaign expectations, execution, and measurement.

Here are five key differences between brand marketing and direct response.

1. Goals and tasks

“Direct response marketing helps people buy. Brand marketing helps people choose,” said Jason Falls, a leader in social media marketing and founder of Social Media Explorer. That sums it up well.

Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s influential rule of 7 is that it takes an average of seven taps for a brand to become recognizable. This theory shapes the long game strategy implemented in brand marketing initiatives.

Consistent brand messaging strengthens a product or service, the customer experience or the engagement in the community and strengthens the general awareness so that your brand becomes unforgettable when a customer has to decide. These decisions are often made based on brand sentiment and what the brand represents to the buyer.

Direct reaction plays the short game with one unchangeable goal: to convince interested parties to take immediate action. All decisions and elements within a direct marketing program are based on performance data. This is especially true if you work with a direct answer agency.

Throughout the campaign lifecycle, direct marketing strategists track and measure response rates, conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, various cost-per-metrics, lifetime value, and ROI to gain insight into what is converting and what is not. Then adjustments to certain elements (like the mailing list, the CTA or the creative package) are made and strategically tested to optimize performance.

2. Audience

In creating brand awareness, marketing messages are either distributed through the various channels a prospect or customer are likely to interact with, or sent through media that are well aligned with the brand’s specific mission.

Alternatively, the direct response is aimed at the audience most likely to take some action (usually buy something). Predictive modeling uses a calculated mix of first-party and third-party data sets to determine your brand’s ideal customer profile by creating models that are rich in potential customers to market to. The target groups are continuously optimized throughout the entire campaign lifecycle with new, high-performance lists for greater scalability and performance.

3. Copy

The branded copy focuses on educating or entertaining its recipients and is generally short. It often includes visual elements to tell its story. The copy follows a similar tone and structure across all channels and media to highlight a brand’s know-how, products or mission.

A direct marketing copy was written to drive response. It aims to guide its audience to an irresistible proposition through a series of clear and compelling arguments. It can affect a potential customer’s emotions, e.g. B. Comfort or fear of missing out, or it can compare your company to those of your competitors by highlighting additional benefits and value.

4. Design and format

The attention span is getting shorter every year, increasing the difficulty of a marketer to stand out from the crowd with engaging and compelling advertising.

“Memorable” and “entertaining” are two words commonly associated with branding creative. The design is not intended to encourage immediate action, but rather to educate or entertain the audience so they’ll remember your brand when the time to buy is. Marketing and creative teams often experiment with formats, color palettes, playful imagery, and cheeky tones to keep the brand’s story relevant and impactful.

In contrast, Direct Response Creative is strategically designed to encourage immediate action. Each item is selected and positioned within the package to create an instant connection and convince the prospect to take the next step in the buyer’s journey. Direct response designers embrace the “less is more” attitude for most industries, keeping the design clean and engaging with chunked copy and compelling CTAs that keep the message clear and actionable. Relatable and insightful graphics enhance the story to confirm the brand’s worth.

Traditionally, the direct marketing format – like a direct mail letter or a self-mailer – depends on the industry and campaign goals (although agencies are known to “push the envelope” and create more unexpected pieces).

5. Test approach

In the branding world, surveys and focus groups are widely used to test new creative and future branding directions. This helps the company build a good reputation and increase audience trust. The intangible metrics involved are often based on opinions that are difficult to quantify.

On the other hand, “direct marketing is action marketing and if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count,” says director of marketing and author Seth Godin.

When a brand invests in direct marketing, the last thing they want to do is leave money on the table. A measurable and actionable testing approach is to use it to ensure that direct mail and digital campaigns are not only profitable but also optimized. As a best practice, all variables are regularly tracked and tested – including the creative package, list source, offer, integration with digital, and campaign cadence – to determine the best performing combination.

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Brand and direct response marketing must work well together to successfully increase brand value and attract new customers. Having a thoughtful approach to both can help potential customers choose your brand and purchase your product or service.

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