Marketing, Media, Sales, Uncategorized

Is true branding dead?

In the copywriting class I taught this past week, I was asked about how out of home placement strategy differs if something is a branding campaign or a retail campaign.

I let the class in on my opinion that true branding is dead.  Harsh, yes, I know.  But in my years working with clients that say they want to build a “general awareness campaign” with focus on “brand messaging” and then later having them ask me “how did the campaign perform?” I know that true branding is dead.  Once online came into mainstream and we could measure the slightest sneeze of a customer and how that affected their mouse hovering on our home page, just branding something became quite a silly thing to do.  ROI is king!

So when a client asks for a branding campaign, as a marketer/advertiser, you have to look deaper into what the client’s real goals are – to make money.  And if they try to tell you that you won’t be measured ultimately by sales (“we’ll do a pre- and post- awareness test to see how the campaign did and you’ll be measured by that”) you’re poorly mistaken.  If your awareness meter was off the charts but no one bought anything, a new agency will be in there with a new idea and replacing you.

And, even if they do know that you will be judged by ultimate sales, don’t be fooled into thinking that everything you do will be attributable back to your efforts.  Case in point:

I once did a newspaper campaign in New York City.  The client said that it would promote rates in the ads and drive people to their own site.  The campaign ran and they asked “how did it do?”  Did they use unique rates that if booked we’d be able to attribute it only to the ad? No.  Did they use a unique URL landing page or back-slash tag so we could see who saw the ad and visited the site, as opposed to hearing the radio spot, or seeing a web banner? No.  So what did they do in this campaign that allowed us to trace its results? Nothing.  The only thing I could attempt to do was measure spike in web site visitation from New York City right after my ads dropped, but the way Google Analytics labels New York City is by postal city name, and the newspaper went to a bunch of them.  Headache and a half.

Lesson learned from a media planner perspective:  If the client doesn’t give you a sales goal – make one for yourself.  And then figure out how you will be able to prove it with your campaign.  Finally, inform the client this is what you want to do and hopefully they’ll help you in achieving it.

Lesson learned from a media sales perspective: If the client doesn’t give you a sales goal – make one for yourself.  And then figure out how your medium will be able to help contribute to their goal and how those sales will get attributed back to your medium.  Finally, inform the client this is what you want to do and hopefully they’ll help you in achieving it.

Don’t think like me? Let me know!  I’ve changed my mind many times about advertising and things.

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