What is the difference between direct marketing and branding?

What is the difference between direct marketing and branding?

  • Direct response marketing and branding are two distinct approaches to marketing. Direct marketing includes messages intended to drive an immediate customer response. Branding, also known as delayed response advertising, is a long-term effort to build up the brand image and value of your company and its products.

  • Different platforms can be used for both direct and brand, but the difference is your expectations, goals, and measurements.

  • The focus of brand marketing is on building awareness. It’s about announcing that your e-commerce venture is up and running and telling people what it does, with a whole lot of zing.
    You see, direct marketing is about directly telling people what your business is about and giving them the option to do business with you right away.

  • Both brand and direct marketing are good, as long as we set the right expectations.

Marketing is always about making an offer to a target market of customers, whether that’s exclusively offline or online. There are three fundamental ways marketers make offers to potential customers: (1) promotion, (2) branding, and direct marketing.

“Promotion” consists of activities that place the product in front of consumers via paid advertising or publicity campaigns, free samples (such as T-shirt’s with company logos), discounts, etc. Promotion doesn’t necessarily require a sales force. Auto dealer commercials for example are nothing but “promotion”. They don’t offer anything specific to any particular prospect, they simply present the brand image for wider consumption.

Direct selling on the other hand provides actual product demonstrations and presentations by certified members of a salaried sales force who are compensated on a commission basis.

Direct marketing is the bridge between promotion and direct selling because it provides offers to customers that are very specific with respect to the product, price, delivery terms, or whatever. Direct marketers usually combine promotional activities (or “awareness-building”) with selective direct mail solicitations in order to move prospects into a buying cycle.

The objectives of any promotion still have priority over those for branding or direct marketing. Promotion is not about establishing consumer loyalty; it’s primary purpose is getting people to try the product so they will become repeat consumers. Promotion & advertising can be described as awareness building and brand reinforcement. In short: give 'em what they want at the right time at the right place for the right price. A promotion is mainly aimed at the conversion of prospects to end-users and not to build loyalty or brand preference.

The advertising efforts are designed to create awareness for a product or service, which in turn creates interest on the part of potential customers. The objectives of branding are different. A branded campaign positions products (including services) as an integral solution serving specific needs and aspirations, usually created by specifying desirably unique consumer benefits that stand out from the competition. Brands also seek influence over purchase experiences through product features such as design or performance comfort etcetera. In short: give 'em what they want at the right time at the right place for the right price with some added value you can’t put a monetary value on but enhances customer satisfaction.

The objective of branding is to create preference and direct marketing is built on the same principles but aims at getting a customer to take the next step, hence into the sales funnel.

In summary: Brand building, or “brand equity” as it’s also called, requires repeat exposure and positive experiences with a product or service for consumers to become loyal over time; whereas promotion gets them across the counter in the first place, allowing customers to evaluate competing brands through trial. Promotion can build brand awareness but not loyalty per se because it has no direct impact on customer experience, branding, or direct marketing. Promotion and branding are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they both complement each other in a way that helps build brand loyalty over time so people keep buying your product or service again and again.

Direct marketing on the other hand is an investment into creating stronger bonds between consumers and their respective brands because customers receive more individualized attention from marketers who understand their specific circumstances better, allowing for more tailored offers to be sent out via print media or emails etcetera.