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Brand Marketing in a Direct Marketing World

 3 min read / 

What was the top Super Bowl 2018 ad according to USA Today’s Ad Meter? It is hard to even remember one of the top ten. The reason is that ads are not the best tool anymore.

Ads Are Bad

They are not the best tool because they do not connect, make an impact, or leave a mark. Brand marketing does not work in the direct marketing world. Brand marketing is from a different age. A different business environment. A different communication era.

Brand marketing was created when John Wanamaker’s statement “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I do not know which half” worked because it could work.  It could work because advertisers created a mass broadcast communications environment to serve its needs.

Radio was created to sell ads. Television was created to sell ads.

Brian Millar, co-founder of the Emotional Intelligence Agency, writes:

“traditional advertising went after ‘share of mind’–the idea was to get you to associate a brand with a single idea, a single emotion. Volvo: safety. Jaguar: speed. Coke: happiness. The Economist: success. Bang, bang, bang, went the ads, hammering the same idea into your mind every time you saw one.

“Advertising briefs evolved to focus the creatives on a single unique selling position and a single message. Tell them we’re the Ultimate Driving Machine. Tell them in a thrilling way. It worked when you saw ads infrequently on television, in a Sunday magazine, or on a billboard on your morning commute.”

This type of advertising worked because it appeared in a communications environment in which an audience could be reached through only a handful of ways.

But that is not today. Today we are living in a direct marketing world powered by the world-wide-web.

Direct Marketing Is Taking Over

Now we have micro-media and a personalized broadcast communications environment which serve the needs of the end user. The internet was not created for ads. The internet is not mass media.

To better understand this new communications environment the Emotional Intelligence Agency conducted a study to understand what kind of content works. The firm found communications which used funny, useful, beautiful, and inspiring content delivers the best results. Not surprising the most successful brands do all four.

Also, not surprisingly, these are the adjectives used by any top storyteller. She knows they are best words when executing micro and personalized communications.

Yet most of us communicate using only one type of emotionally compelling content – if at all – employing brand marketing techniques that are closer to the days of Mad Men them to the present day of Laundry Service. Brand marketing still communicates only once a day, or worse just a few times a month. Instead, brands should use tools that follow and engage their most active supporters in their own media diet.

Reaching People Is Easy

When it comes to the world-wide-web and the direct marketing communications environment, being multidimensional beats being single-minded. Surprise beats consistency. Emotion beats fact. Funny beats dour. Useful beats sales. Beautiful beats boring. Inspirational beats directional. The best communicators have always understood this instinctively.

By the way, USA Today’s Ad Meter ranked Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” as the best 2018 ad. It is an ad which quickly slipped from popular memory. But I do remember my friends telling me a story or two about Alexa that used funny, useful, beautiful, and inspiring words to describe their experiences.

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