Here's Why Your Branding Is Worthless Without Direct Response

The brands my company works with, both large and small, often assume they have to choose between sales and branding. They'll say things like, "We're very PR-driven right now" or "We need a return on investment but don't want to be pushy." But what they're unintentionally saying is: "We don't want to drive sales."

Let's get real. No one wants to build a great brand at the expense of sales. That's a recipe for bankruptcy. Companies need branding to draw people into the sales funnel, but in my experience, branding without prompting an immediate direct response from those people is a waste of everyone's time. Tracking direct responses and measuring subsequent purchases helps companies determine which ads and promotions are most effective.

Just look at Zappos: Nobody can say the e-commerce shoe giant doesn't have a strong brand. When it started out, however, its founders probably weren't squabbling over the merits of the Oxford comma or whether to use azure for the logo. Instead, it was building a basic website to see whether it could persuade people to buy shoes online. It went for a funnel and a conversion rate before it ever started branding. Once Zappos had a full pipeline, it built its identity around its culture and customer service. Only then did it become known as a "brand."

Running a Business to Convert

In the end, running a business is about making money. Without an efficient way to do that, building the brand doesn't matter. The great news is, it's not hard to do both:

1. Make it easy for people to buy. No matter how great our branding is, we must have that funnel to capitalize. If we're blasting a product for branding purposes, we tell our audience where to meet us with a well-positioned call to action that asks for a direct and immediate response.

One case study found that updating call-to-action (CTA) buttons on blog posts increased revenue by 83 percent in one month, even though traffic increased only 1 percent in the same period. Furthermore, the e-commerce conversion rate rose quarter over quarter to more than 22 percent, and the average order value for blog readers rose quarter over quarter to nearly 50 percent.

At Hawke Media, our branding lets people know where to find us. Then, on the homepage, we have a free consultation button. All our advertising and PR efforts point people to the website, then the website makes it very easy for them to reach out and become customers.

The bottom line: You can have a great brand play while also letting people know they can buy the product on your website.

2. Make sure your content mirrors our brand. When we are driving sales, we strive to stay true to our brand. That doesn't mean avoiding asking people to buy; it means using language that aligns with your brand's message and values. Dollar Shave Club does this brilliantly. In 2012, it released a YouTube video that became the cornerstone of its marketing strategy. Since then, Dollar Shave Club has kept its content close to the brand and tone it already built. When you stray from your brand, you might drive a few quick sales. But ultimately, you'll sell to the wrong customers, and they won't keep coming back.

Don't focus on your brand at the expense of sales; the two go hand-in-hand. See them as partners. Making it easy for prospects to find and instantly contact the company makes it easier for them to ultimately convert. -VIA