Editor’s Notes: Direct and/or Brand?
Donny and Marie Osmond, sibling stars of one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, proclaimed that she was “a little bit country” while he was “a little bit rock ’n roll.” As a youngster, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what this meant the Osmonds were “mostly,” but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the skits and songs.
When it comes to direct marketing and branding, no such ambiguity has been tolerated. I’ve heard time and again that branding tactics dilute the efficacy of direct response campaigns and thus must be avoided like the returns counter at a major department store the week after Christmas. But a new philosophy is emerging.
Given that consumers have demanded more control over the amount, frequency and type of advertising/marketing directed at them, it has become more important for companies to use techniques that help their names, products/services and USPs stay top of mind with prospects and customers. Marketers have some demands of their own: Reducing costs and improving ROI. Without a response mechanism or some behavior they can track, how can companies determine the latter (which drives the former)?
While the merger of brand and direct is logical in theory, it’s the process part that’s still got many marketers baffled—and me, too, for that matter. What branding tactics can you incorporate into a direct response campaign before you interfere with the call to action—because for a campaign to generate response, there’s no such thing as being “a little direct.” It either is direct, or it isn’t.
Something else I wonder about: Is it possible to teach an old dog new tricks? In paging through recent issues of several trade publications serving the direct marketing industry, I found solid response tactics but also a host of competing brand messaging. For example, six firms used highway themes and four used brains/head themes (two of which are, pardon the pun, head-to-head rivals).