Brand and Direct Response advertising are the two fundamental pillars for any small business marketing strategy. For the uninitiated, here’s a rapid (and oversimplified) definition;
- Direct Response ads seek to make a sale. Here. Now.
- Brand ads seek to make people feel something. Now, and into the future.
Why do you need both?
Well, that’s the million-dollar question.
This is a great answer to that question from Nicky Bell, Facebook’s VP of Creative, who said it on a recent Agency training webinar with our team, “you need to water the tree, and pick the fruit”.
Direct Response (DR) advertising seeks to make a sale, right here, right now. Any other form of advertising where you require your audience to ‘remember’ something and then ‘act’ on that sometime in the future is brand advertising. Because it’s your brand that conveys an emotion, which is essential for triggering memories.
Even if you take brand advertising entirely out of the equation, at some point, your customer went through two crucial stages, awareness and consideration. Both of these elements have to come into it if you’re looking to grow a business over the medium to long term. This is also particularly true for any business that requires more significant purchase decisions to grow in the short term.
Think of it as a sliding scale. The more critical your products (or services) are to your audience. The more significant the impact that their purchase decision can have on their lives or livelihoods, the more ‘considered’ that purchase decision is likely to be.
A general rule of thumb is that ‘brand’ advertising should become more (or less) necessary depending on the following factors;
- What products and services do you sell?
- What is the speed of your message?
- How close to that message is your point of purchase?
Asking someone to buy a brand-new car? You probably won’t do that one on impulse (or at least you shouldn’t).
Were you trying to sell someone a new t-shirt in lockdown? Well, they just might click on your ad to get that one delivered, here, now.
Less important + lower purchase value + instant decisions = Less brand / more DR.
More important + higher purchase value + larger more complex decisions = more Brand.
But at no point should you just go ‘all in’ on DR alone. Why? Because without any brand, you can’t differentiate from your competitors. You will essentially be evaluated by your audience on price vs function independently, and you’ll quickly become a commodity.
The game of commodities is not one that any small business owner should seek to play and win. That game is about scale. Massive scale.
Having and growing your brand (at least to some degree) is imperative to building a resilient business. After all, the customers know you and love you who will support you through the tough times. And in the good times, it’s your brand that will let you charge those customers a premium price for the products and services that they know and love. And it’s those customers that are most likely to try your new products and services (you know, the ones you create down the track when your business is growing).
You see, in any business, brand advertising is essential – even if you only do it to some small degree.
Stand for something.
Make your audience feel something when they see your logo or think of you.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, and works best when it’s authentic.
Most small business owners aren’t in business “just because”. Sure, they want their business to grow economically. Still, there’s usually a passion point in there somewhere that got them to start—A reason ‘why’ they do what they do.
That’s the most accessible place to start to build your brand.
Business owners need to tell their audience what they stand for. Show them why they’re passionate about their products and services and how they believe they’re different from their competitors. They need to help them fall in love with their business at every possible opportunity. All of these elements are already established – you just need a forum to tell people about it.
Nothing offers small business owners that opportunity as freely and easily as Facebook and Instagram.
One of the easiest ways to manage your brand and DR advertising needs is to spend media dollars in two main areas.
- It is boosting your posts to build your brand.
- Run ads to sell your products.
These two areas are the easiest way to build your brand and your bottom line simultaneously. Set up a content strategy to support your daily posts and tell your brand story. Set up your campaigns to sell, sell, sell.
Depending on your business type, you can run with a set percentage. For example, for every $1 that you spend in DR, you’ll pay 10c, 20c, or even another $1 to build your brand by boosting content.
Sure, you need to get a good return from your ads – after all, your ads need to drive sales.
But somewhere along the line, you need to remember to water the tree sooner or later, and you won’t have any fruit to pick.