If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I come from the “Mad Men” world of Madison Avenue ad agencies. So brand advertising – where customers get to know and love a brand almost like a person — is very close to my heart. But in the world of online marketing, brand identity is the poor, distant relative of metrics. Words like “conversions” “click- throughs” “analytics” “CPA” “CPC” are the language I heard used at Traffic & Conversion Summit, and brand was hardly mentioned. Gary Vaynerchuk’s lambasted this mentality in his keynote. In his opinion, brand is what lasts over time, while good metrics can change based on everything from marketplace whims to technical glitches to what color your “buy” button is. Bottom line: you need both.
So how do you find the sweet spot between the world of brand advertising – where people love your personality and your “why”, but you can’t explain how that actually equates to dollars – and the bloodless, spreadsheet-dominated internet marketing world where no one really remembers o cares about you everything feels like a boring commodity? I live in that sweet spot… and here are a few recommendations:
1. Recognize that measurements do not equal meaning.
The geeky marketer types find comfort in click-throughs and email open rates, and that’s great, but are people actually engaging with your brand and using the information? There are all kinds of tricks to get people to open an email or click on a link (as a copywriter, I know a fair amount of these). Sure, it might get you some impulse purchases, and it’s nice to show your metrics to people as proof what you’re doing is working (again, as a copywriter I have been known to brag about my 46% opt in rates) but are people responding to your marketing…or merely reacting? (See my cartoon illustration soon to appear in Pam Hendrickson’s new book, The Art of Impact )
2. Remember that brand is a long-term investment, not a quick fix.
In today’s Snapchat world, it may seem that brand is something you create in the spur of the moment. It’s easy to believe that your results should be instant too. They’re not. The real value of brand is not in new customers you might attract but in repeat ones. Great brands inspire fierce loyalty. You probably have a smartphone you always buy, and a person’s emails you always open. When you have that you have gold, because a loyal customer is worth more than a new one over time, is more likely to recommend you, and will cut you slack when you drop the ball (how much has Apple messed up in past years yet retained their customers, including me?) and will buy from you regardless of factors beyond your control, like the economy.
3. Brand without quantifiable buyers is just ego.
A lot of big companies with big budgets fall into this trap, and ad agencies make their living from it. You “come up with something cool” …and you love it, your mom loves it, but you don’t have any real way of measuring how it’s landing with your customers, or if they even remember it was you whose marketing they saw. The beauty of numbers is there is NO emotion, and they tell a story too. Don’t let your ego or your infatuation with “a great idea” get in the way of your business. Car and beer companies can afford it; you probably can’t.
4. Think short term AND invest long term.
There’s no reason you can’t have a business where you have people opting in, opening, clicking and buying today, AND still loving you AND remembering you a year or 10 years from now. But at Gary says, you have to invest in that, in terms of time, focus and money. I recommend to both my corporate clients and entrepreneurs to take time away from the day to day running of your business and think about what you want to be known and loved for in the marketplace. Once you have a great idea of those values, and are able to internalize them so they inform all you do, you can then enjoy watching your numbers go up knowing that it’s not all you’re banking on.