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Welcome to all things APEX. Here you can find Marketing Insights, Apex News, and Information about the upcoming #REACHINGAPEX podcast. 

"Two Roads Diverged in a yellow wood"

Brand vs Direct Marketing-Apex Marketing Team

Anyone who has ever taken 8th grade English probably recognized this line immediately as the opening line of the famous Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken". So what does this have to do with marketing? Everything.

I know every customer that we have ever had, and will ever have, wants to make money. They invest in APEX as a partner for that very reason. Typically, like the title suggest, there are two roads you can travel down when deciding how much you can invest, and when you need it back. Just this week, we at Apex, ran into a situation where the two differences were assumed knowledge, and it has created us to look into this deeper and make sure we clear up each for anyone considering adding marketing to their business.

The two strategies, or roads, are "Brand" and "Direct" Marketing. Both are part of the advertising arm of marketing, but have completely different timelines and payoffs along with approach and budgets.

So grab some coffee, and let's start diving in on each one.

Brand Marketing

Nike Logo-Brand Marketing Example-Apex Marketing Team

This type of marketing is used to just get the feel of the brand, the image, the mission statement, the reach of the brand out to as many people as it can as many times as it can. This is typically used by "the big boys" that can afford to invest a lot now and get the big payoff later. Think Nike, Coke, Apple and so on. On their commercials you typically, not always, won't see a call to action asking you to go out and get something from them, they just layout who they are and with images and music, actors and cartoons, layout their feel or "their brand". Brand Marketing is hard to gauge "results" on as there are no real metrics tied to this type of outreach. Some would argue that impressions, or how many people saw the campaign, would be an accurate metric, however you really can't say if those views of the ad increased or decreased the likelihood of a purchase without knowing exactly how long they saw the ad, who they are specifically, and where they are in the decision process. So it would be a tainted metric to hold the success of a campaign against.

The payoff for this is huge in the long term as people begin to subconsciously lean towards those brands when they are ready to make a purchase. You feel you trust them more because they are more familiar, or you have the same "vibe" as them. Eventually this strategy allows the brand to become a "household name" but also allows you, the customer, to be able to picture that brand on anything. For example, the brands I mentioned do not currently have any hotels that I know of, however, if they were to open a hotel you can already picture what each would look and feel like because of the great job they have done with brand marketing. The contrast to this is the fact that if super 8 hotel were to develop a shoe or phone or soft drink, you would have no idea what that would look like, because they use price and discounts to win their customers, not brand.

Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing-Apex Marketing Team

Direct Marketing is straightforward. This is the "Buy Now" marketing used in ads of all kinds asking for the potential customer to pick up the phone or "click here" etc, and do business with us now. Unlike it's counterpart, Brand Marketing, Direct Marketing allows full use of metrics which allow real time results and a more "pass/fail" evaluation of the campaign.

This form of marketing is highly effective, even for new brands, if every aspect of the process is set up and managed correctly. However, one wrong piece of the puzzle being off will completely collapse the whole strategy. An example is an ad that has a great pitch targeted to the right people with the right price/value balance, but the signup process is messy or if the goal is "Call us now" and the phone connection is bad or the people taking the calls aren't good at converting, then the whole acquisition of the prospect was worthless. Same with other parts of the process, they all have to work.

Typically these strategies are short term and do lose effectiveness over time due to people becoming numb to the approach in every aspect of their life, and competition drives swift changes that, if you don't adapt quickly enough to, you are left behind.

Direct marketing also relies heavy on the "product and price" versus brand marketing relying on "familiarity and value". Due to the focus on a transactional relationship, the relationship with the brand begins and promptly ends within the current transaction. This also creates the feel of desperation on the part of the brand to get business, and also, done incorrectly, can come off pushy which results in a much lower conversion rate. This strategy will lead to quicker conversions, but at a much lower per customer value than a brand marketing approach.

That is why direct is a short term win/loss strategy and brand marketing is long term win/loss marketing approach.

How do you decide which strategy to use?

Nothing in life is guaranteed, so picking one over the other does not ensure you make billions and retire at 35, but the decision on which one to use should be made carefully and thoughtfully.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before you decide on which approach would serve your goals the best:

  1. Do you have a brand or a product? Many companies get these two confused. If you don't really have a feel or goal from what your company stands for, but have a simple product you need sold then, either stop and create the brand, or just sell the product through direct marketing.

  2. What is the goal you hope to achieve from your marketing effort? If the answer is something like "more clients now" or "to sell a bunch of product that is needing to be moved quick", then you go DIRECT MARKETING. If you answer more in the lines of "I want more people to know we exist", or "I am hoping to gain a large customer base (or prospect funnel)", then we would always lean more towards a BRAND MARKETING strategy.

  3. How long/how much do you have to invest without seeing a return? If you are using the last $1000 in the business account to do marketing, you may want to stick with direct marketing and as your budget and time to invest gets larger, you pivot to the Brand/long term play.

Once you answer these questions you should have a clear answer as to which method would be best for you currently and also where you may want to focus in the future with your company.

Put a bow on it

I'm sure your coffee is probably almost gone, so let's put a bow on it.

If you have time (12 months or longer) and don't need an immediate return on you marketing spend, then you would probably want to get Brand Marketing. If the opposite is true, one month and need to sell/convert now, then direct is just what you are looking for.

At Apex Marketing Team, we understand that no two companies are alike, even within the same industry. We also know that no matter which method you settle on, you will always wonder what the opposite strategy would have looked like. Due to the FOMO (fear of missing out) doubt some clients have, we tend to ensure that we help weigh out each option very carefully before you commit. We also try to marry the two together by splitting your budget by an 80/20% split. For example, if you were to chose Brand Marketing, 80% of your budget would be dedicated to Brand, while the other 20% would be used for Direct Marketing. This protects the Brand while also allowing you to test conversion and potentially get a faster ROI than a 100% Brand campaign alone.

If we can ever help with this or any other marketing questions, feel free to give us a call at 662-505-APEX (2739) or email: and we can set up a good time to talk.


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