Can the Brand Short-Circuit Direct Response Sales?

I know several folks in the direct response business who believe branding gets in the way of the sales message and distracts the customer.

They don’t bother with a logo, or even a company name. Instead, they rely on compelling, detailed and benefit-packed copy; together with testimonials, references and endorsements; coupled with powerful offers, discounts, bonuses and coupons. They are all about the sale. Their only goal is to persuade and entice buyers to TAKE ACTION NOW.
And many of them seem to be successful with this tactic.
But I believe it to be short-sighted.
All direct marketers know that acquiring new customers is vital to their business, but that their real success comes from repeat business.
Most have figured out how much business an average customer will do with the firm over a number of years. It’s probably an order of magnitude larger than the initial sale because these marketers continually ask their customers to buy more stuff. They send catalogs, sales letters, bargain flyers, e-mails. Continually. Religiously. Obsessively.
All of these impressions develop in the minds of customers who may or may not respond to a particular offer. If the company behind the offer does not present a focused, differentiated image of itself, people will not generate any passion for the company. They’ll regard the company as just another provider that will be selected only if “the price is right”.
My contention is that paying attention to your brand is important to direct marketing long-term success. Perhaps not as important as a powerful offer backed by a no-holds-barred guarantee in the short-run, but every bit as important over time. I cite Land’s End, Kiplinger, Bose and Omaha Steaks as four who pay as much attention to brand as to product and offer, and have flurished.
Think of the direct marketing companies in which you have established a relationship. I’ll bet nine out of ten will have established and promoted their brand along with their offers. I’ll bet they are more successful in acquiring and especially maintaining loyal customers. I’ll also bet their life-time value per customer is higher than their competitors who have disregarded branding.
That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
Martin Jelsema


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