Bridging the Gap
Target Marketing chats with B-to-B marketer of the year Richard Rosen about brand-interactive synergy
Interview by Brian Howard
To outside observers, the rivalry between brand and direct has at times resembled a bout between punch-drunk pugilists.
Richard Rosen, president and CEO of direct marketing agency AlloyRed (formerly Rosen/Brown Direct), was named the first ever recipient of the DMA Business-to-Business council's B-to-B Marketer of the Year award, partly because he's a member of an emerging group of marketers who's trying to stop the brand-direct slug fest and bring in the love.
He was granted his award at the Direct Marketing to Business Con-ference (DMB) in Orlando in March, where he presented a session encapsulating his views on integrating brand and interaction (response).
Key to his methodology is the concept of velocity: the rate of a marketing effort's interaction with an audience (see diagram on p. 69). A pure brand-awareness effort would score a velocity of one and a pure interaction effort a 10.
According to Rosen, mixing media at different velocities within a campaign—e.g., print at four, TV at seven and PR at two—is key to building trust while generating response. And the development of trust has become tantamount in a world where dollars are scarce and the customer is now very much in control.
Finding the right mix—what Rosen deems the "sweet spot" on a cost-per-sale basis—allows marketers to maximize both disciplines' potential; established brand awareness reduces the cost of current and future interactive sales, while interaction lessens the need for high-cost branding campaigns going forward.
Target Marketing caught up with Rosen to discuss his views on the benefits of pairing brand with response.
Target Marketing: One of your beliefs is that brand and direct complement each other. How do you break down initial resistance from either side?
Richard Rosen: Education. There's got to be a willingness on behalf of the individual [to recognize] that both respective disciplines have their brilliance. The brand builders found themselves saying, "If I can build the brand, you actually will trust me …" There's a formula there that worked in the '50s, '60s [and] '70s.
As the curve of clutter increased, the propensity to not trust just went exponential, especially with [Generation X]. And just giving [this generation] the message doesn't cut through [its] cynical behavior. So therefore, the direct model in its purest form says, "I'm going to build brand; I acknowledge that I need to build trust, so you understand who I am and what you feel about me."
Years ago I thought of it as changing the audience's behavior now to change your ultimate behavior, or your attitude about buying. It's kind of been reversed. Brand advertising wanted to change your attitude, and it would lead to a behavioral change down the road. The direct model says I want to change your behavior to get involved with me, not to buy.
TM: How does the direct model encourage involvement?
Rosen: See, this is where the word direct is very strange. … The word direct always meant, "You're going to buy from me [now]."
However, most of us went into this world of, "Hey, get involved with me. Raise your hand if you're even remotely in the queue to be interested."
TM: Your scope goes beyond brand and direct.?
Rosen: Those two disciplines by themselves do a lot, but there's also the discipline of sales. … I think the sales discipline has two issues right now for us in advertising and marketing. One is: Where are you in the sales cycle? And No. 2 is: What message is going to resonate with customers?
In order to do our messaging, we … bring the sales teams in to actually talk to them about why they aren't moving forward.
And then there's the power of finance, which literally has to drive the engine.
TM: Can you explain what brand brings to the table for a direct marketer?
Rosen: From 80,000 feet, if you truly understand and are committed to the brand document—the essence of who a company is from start to finish—then you're building the brand through demand, through every point [of interaction]. So welcome that integration, that fusion of both disciplines in a respectful way to the customer. And I think in today's market, marketers need to be respectful because the customer's in charge.
TM: You spoke in your DMB session about the AlloyRed Velocity Scale, where brand awareness media have a lower velocity and brand interaction media have a higher velocity. What's the process for finding the right mix?
Rosen: We have what we call our AlloyRed marketing communication map. … It's not complicated, it just [determines]: How many people do I need to interact with or have come to my site or come into my store [to make a profit]? So the marketing communications messaging map shows it as a function of interaction … that if I run so many ads at a one velocity, what is going to take place in the next year? Is that going to make [the] goal? … But the question is, what is the velocity, the momentum—the call to action? Not to buy necessarily, but to get involved with me, to go to an interaction point.
TM: I think the crux of your philosophy is what you termed the "sweet spot." How did you find this "sweet spot," where the brand and direct drive each other?
Rosen: The sweet spot changes based on strategy and what a client needs both short- and long-term. So it really is dynamic. It's a sweet spot of the perfect balance—knowing what kind of money you have available. It's the power of finance coming into the model that drives the sweet spot; it's that balance of respect for both disciplines.
[We often ask] "Did we really hurt the brand by having the print ad or the TV spot have a greater velocity to pull the customer or prospect to get involved with us?" And the answer a lot of times is "no." In fact, most times we are driving the brand through brand-interaction, thereby building the brand faster with less budget over time with a proven model to lower business risk.