In the lovable Apple TV series, Ted Lasso, the title character played by Jason Sudeikis has a one-word message to help his players get in the game: Believe.
It turns out that this simple, yet powerful lesson from the locker room can also apply to your marketing.
The Two Types of Marketing
Marketing is a broad term, but there are actually two subsets of marketing: direct-response marketing, and brand marketing.
You may find that you identify with a specific type of marketing a bit more based on your interests and skillsets. For instance, I consider myself more of a brand marketer vs. a direct-response marketer.
So what’s the difference?
Brand marketing is about getting your customer to believe in your product or service. Its goal is brand awareness. Brand marketing generally comprises initiatives like organic social media, PR, reputation management, traditional advertising, community engagement, and any storytelling effort. Brand marketers set out to inspire your audience to think positively of your brand. This encourages conversion but doesn’t directly produce it.
That’s where direct-response marketing comes in.
Direct-response marketing is considered ‘action marketing’ because its tactics facilitate a purchase. Its goal is conversion. Online advertising, email, SMS, and paid social are all examples of direct-response marketing because your customer can take action and convert in the moment. They’re just a few clicks away from a purchase.
To put it simply, direct marketing helps people buy, whereas brand marketing helps people choose.
How Do We Choose?
What makes you choose a brand over its competitors? It may come down to straightforward qualifiers like better quality, price, or availability.
But your brand’s reputation, values, and personality also play a role. And it’s brand marketers who manage your brand’s reputation, communicate your values, and display your personality through the tactics I previously mentioned.
Even if your brand is the highest quality, readily available, and priced within your customer’s budget, they probably won’t choose you if they have negative perceptions of it. Your investment in direct-response marketing touchpoints will be more effective if your customer has a positive association of your brand. Your digital advertising will be met with a stronger willingness to convert, thanks to brand marketing.
The Brand Marketing Conundrum
When it comes to these two types of marketing, brand marketing presents a certain challenge in contrast to direct-response marketing. Brand marketing is difficult to measure, whereas direct-response marketing is more black and white. This is because you can easily trace a conversion back to the direct-response tactic that produced it thanks to something called last-click attribution.
According to HubSpot, last-click attribution “is when you give all of the credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint in the buyer’s journey — it assumes the final touchpoint is what ultimately influenced the lead’s decision to convert.”
The problem here is that last-click attribution discredits brand marketing efforts. Your customer probably wouldn’t convert if not for the countless brand marketing touchpoints that preceded the conversion. Not to mention, brand marketing is typically a long game. It often requires weeks, months, or years of fostering goodwill so that your audience will gladly choose your company when they’re ready to buy. But as far as measuring what generated revenue, the last click gets the point.
What This Means for Brand Marketers
Last-click attribution puts brand marketers in a difficult position because it’s hard to prove their value. How can social media managers, brand managers, PR professionals, creative strategists, copywriters, and community managers quantify their efforts without easily tying them to revenue?
This is also how social media as a strategy, and also a profession, gets diminished. Sometimes people are unable to see the value in that meme you posted, the TikTok trend you participated in, or the tweets you wrote. But every piece of content helps create relationships, build trust, and inspire customers to choose you over the competition.
One of the best opportunities for brand marketers to demonstrate their value is to measure brand sentiment.
What is brand sentiment? It’s the attitude and feelings people have about your brand. Brand sentiment can be positive or negative, and it’s known as an indicator of your brand’s overall health.
There are several social listening tools and brand health analyses that can help you determine your brand sentiment. For example, that one social media post may not have necessarily created a direct path to conversion, but its story sparked a ton of positive engagement.
Brand marketers work tirelessly to ensure people perceive your brand in a positive light. They convey your company’s culture and motivate a prospective customer to choose you whenever they end up in buying mode. They also cultivate community and nurture customers into brand loyalists who believe in your brand and inspire others to do the same.
Companies that only operate with the bottom line in mind are in it for the wrong reasons. If you serve your customers, strive to do the right thing, and exemplify a strong brand purpose, you’ll meet your goals. With the help of brand marketers and direct response marketers working together, revenue will follow.