Nuts & Bolts: Branding
It never fails. General agency professionals and clients who spend their careers building brands go limp when it comes time to ask for the order. It’s as if the call to action needed to get a reasonable response rate from the target audience somehow demeans the brand.
Let’s be clear: A strong brand goes a long way toward generating higher response rates, but a strong brand without sales support will deny the organization the sales it deserves.
Case in point: While working as a direct marketing consultant for a general agency, the bomb fell when I asked for a description of the offer. The goal for the client’s program was to generate appointments with high-level buyers at retail organizations to close large contracts. The client was unsuccessful in getting appintments with the decision makers at target organizations, so its agency brought me in for advice on how to generate the needed lead flow.
At our first meeting, agency reps showed me their creative concepts, raw contact list and product benefits, and answered questions related to the selling process. They impressed me with their creativity, marketing depth and overall understanding of what it would take to help the client, but we hadn’t covered the most important part. So I asked them what they had in mind for the offer.
They made the case that offering anything to the prospect would degrade the brand. I countered that Apple routinely offers computer sales to small companies and individuals to move product. Not even this brand leader relies purely on its reputation to move product.
But the real issue is the B-to-B lead generation we were creating could not sell the product without a salesman. The goal was to sell the appointment, so making an offer that rewards busy executives for giving us time to sell the benefits of our product doesn’t degrade the brand. Let the salesman sell the product fully once he is face to face with the prospect.