Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

If you don’t use these 2 forms of marketing now, you’ll hate yourself later!

Here’s a quick marketing tip for you:  Did you know that when confronted with a number of purchasing choices, if the potential purchaser is only familiar with one of the options, they are massively more likely to buy it?

Well, it’s true!

That feeling of familiarity is enough to make that purchase feel less of a risk, than buying a completely unknown alternative.  So, it makes very good business sense, to give visibility to your brand’s image.

Brand advertising and Direct Response advertising

The above example is often achieved using brand advertising. Brand advertising is what you see, every time you watch a TV commercial.  A product or service is presented in a great light, but with no obvious call to action.  They simply want to build familiarity of the brand and make you feel good about it.  It’s a model that generates billions in sales every year.

Then there’s direct response advertising. You see examples of this, every time you watch an infomercial.  Unlike a typical commercial, they not only show the product, but keep asking you to buy it.  They offer you toll free numbers and show you all the payment options they have.  The whole deal is done via the infomercial and it’s a very powerful way to make sales.

Direct response marketing is also the only kind of marketing you will hear most Internet based marketers mention.  Despite all the facts that suggest the opposite, it’s fashionable to say that brand marketing is dead and a waste of your time.

Brand marketing is not dead

This is why companies like Nike pay professional sports people to wear their products.  Does anyone actually think companies like Apple or Chanel are marketed by morons?  These guys are masters of brand marketing / advertising and they use it to generate millions of sales.

Yes, every business should use direct response marketing, but this is not a binary decision! It’s not one kind of marketing or the other.  You can use them both, so long as you use them correctly.  You can invest in some smart brand awareness AND get all that direct response marketing goodness too.  A retail outlet can use their valuable window space, to reinforce their brand and garner familiarity, as people walk past and drive by their shopfront every day, without dropping every other form of marketing.

Brand advertising in small businesses

There are 3 people who work in my local coffee shop, who each have the new Samsung Galaxy S.  They work different shifts and hardly see each other.  They are not friends and their ages range from around 17 to about 50.  None of them went for an iPhone or a different Andriod phone or a Windows phone.  They ALSO bought their identical phones from the exact same shop; even though it was considerably more expensive than buying their phone online.  The shop?  It’s the small, independent phone shop directly opposite where they work 8 hours a day.  The one that had a huge Galaxy S banner in it’s window for months.

Yes, it could be a total coincidence, that 3 people of differing generations would all go for the same, relatively expensive smart phone.  BUT it’s also very possible that it was not coincidence at all, but just another example of what marketing professionals see all the time; people picking the option that’s most familiar.  They saw that banner hundreds of times a day, consciously and unconsciously.

Through that simple, inexpensive piece of brand advertising, the small, independent phone store created a situation for the coffee shop staff, where:

  • They became familiar with the name of one particular phone model.
  • They became familiar with the look of one particular phone model.
  • They associated both of those to that particular store, which is where all 3 bought their phone.

Marketing fashions

I’ve been in marketing for almost 25 years and in that time, I’ve seen a number of fashions come and go.  The thing is, the fundamentals of marketing and the principles of influence are not part of fashion.  They are part of human behaviour.  The key motivators are the same today, as they were when I was working in London in the 1980’s, as a hungry marketing exec, learning directly from people who worked alongside the best of the best, like the great David Ogilvy.

Success leaves clues!

Whilst we associate brand advertising with BIG companies, as we saw in the phone store example, elements can be successfully ported across to small business.  By keeping YOUR brand, logo / name in front of your prospective clients, you help to make them feel familiar with you.  Of course, if you also help the marketplace to feel good or positive toward your business, you can increase the impact of your marketing enormously.  This is yet another reason for you to develop a content marketing strategy for your business.

The bottom line: Marketing your business is not a binary decision.  You should include whatever is most likely to deliver the best results for you, regardless of the fashions of the day.

BTW: How many of you got the picture reference? :)

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Image: Patrick Hoesly

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  1. Another great post Jim. I believe in both brand marketing and direct sales marketing. Proper branding has amazing powers, perhaps to an extent that it keeps telling the person to “buy it” even after he’s seen the commercial.

    I’d say that branding and direct sales are two sides of the same coin. They’re probably on the opposite ends of a long road but still the same road.

    Now my question is, what avenues can a small business take to brand itself successfully considering that most small businesses have a small (if any) budget?


    • Hi Mike. Your approach would depend on your industry and what you want to achieve. It would depend on where you pitch your prices or fees. It would depend on your competitors. In short, it’s not an area where generic advice is particularly useful, beyond the most basic fundamentals. I will be covering those in future posts, but don’t expect any silver bullets.

  2. Interesting post Jim.

    For a new business, it will obviously take time to get that recognition. Are there practical ways to speed up that process?

    HGTTG: Deep Thought the supercomputer’s answer was 42

    Best Regards

    • Hi Chris. Yes, you can speed up the process by having your marketing handled professionally. That will get the right message, in front of your prospective clients and motivate them correctly.

      If you are handling your own marketing and you have little or no experience, it’s not going to happen quickly. I’d like to say otherwise, but it’s a case of taking time to learn the process. Read the blogs, study the books, attend the classes, do the research, test and measure your results. Just make sure you are following the right advice.

      This is almost certainly not the answer you want, but in my 25 years of marketing experience, it’s 100% accurate.

      • Hi Jim

        Thanks for your answer, much appreciated. I prefer a 100% accurate reply than one that will never happen.

        Contrary to David Ropers little rant, I thought I was simply asking a question around the subject being discussed. If I have crossed a line, I hope that you would say so Jim.

        Thanks again for your informative posts

        Best Regards

  3. Okay. A little off topic. Here goes.

    Why do some people think a blog post is an excuse for them to score a free marketing consultation for their business!?!

    I’m about to start my own blog and would like to know how to handle that.

    • That’s an interesting question, David.

      I don’t know if you were referring to the previous comments on this post, or help requests from people who comment on blogs in general.

      There will be a tiny minority of people, who have zero respect for a blogger’s time and will try and garner as much free advice as they can. That’s certainly NOT what you saw here. Those were 2 legit comments from 2 active members of this site’s community. A similar question from Mike last week, resulted in me getting a great idea for a new blog post, which was the most read post here last month!

      I tend not to give long, detailed advice via emails and comments that address a particular person’s issues. I use the one-to-many approach, by sharing answers and ideas on topics, which will help lots of people. That’s what this blog is. Free, one-to-many advice. I can spend 30 minutes writing you an emailed answer, or help thousands with a blog post written in 30 minutes.

      BTW: Could it be argued that what you did with your question was any different? You asked me for specific advice on how to solve a challenge, just like the guys earlier. In all 3 cases, it was simply a conversation, around a subject.

      Hope that helps and good luck with the blog.

  4. Branding is something that definitely works – but is also something that is a lot harder for a small business to justify. It is a lot harder to measure ROI on a branding exercise.
    Though Google AdWords in particular does offer something of a ‘middle ground’ with their Display Network where you can measure your direct ROI and also see ‘View Through’ conversions for ad creatives which shows you when someone has viewed your advert and then subsequently done business with you…
    It’s worth looking into – but again like you say – 9 times out of 10 it is worth paying someone who knows what they are doing rather than trying to do it yourself.
    (I *could* service my own car if I spent a huge amount of time and effort on it – but it’s not a very efficient use of my time).

  5. Nice article and spot on. The key to any marketing / sales campaign is diversity. Too many companies, possibly through budget constraints, place all their eggs in one basket when it comes to marketing.

    How do you think your advice applies in the B2B for small businesses? ie. Professional services.

    • The application of brand marketing is a HUGE topic.

      You should be looking at the development of an image, then running it consistently. Find out where your prospective clients are and BE THERE; at least in image. Look for creative ways to present yourself, maybe via advertising or sponsorship.

      This is a specialist area. If you are going to take this route, get expert help. A homemade logo, with a generic message is unlikely to do anything other than waste your time and money.

      Make sense?

  6. This is a really important topic Jim.
    And I’m fully agree with the fact that global brands and firms achieve to be successful because they’ve recognized their inner (and unique) talent and pushed it on the front desk to build later an environnement.

    But it takes time to reveal and point out what’s different from competitors, and it takes time and patience to place yourself above the scene (previous answers above…).

    So to answer to the question about the picture reference, I would ask myself deeply if what I’m doing has a kicking sense that I would be able to share with others. And if it does interest at least one person, so it’ll probably and fortunately correspond to others: and then begins the brand management.

    Thank you so much Jim to show us the way once again.

  7. Great post Jim.

    With regards to branding, I think businesses need to stand for something – i.e. decide what it is and stick with it (assuming it’s working). In rough terms, the smaller the business the more specific that ‘something’ should be. If you are Volvo, it’s ok to stand for generic stuff like quality, safety etc. But if you are ABC Accountancy Firm, you need to stand something more specific that underpins what your customers really want from the services you provide.

    Most small businesses don’t do this, because ‘standing for something specific’ means they have to leave stuff out. And as you’ll know, a lot of small businesses want to be all things to all people in their sector. For them, it’s a tough and brave thing to do, but in my view, worth it.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Andy.

      In my experience, it’s impossible to successfully market a business that has no differentiation. If it’s just alike all the others, it will always struggle for visibility AND always have to sell based on prices, or fees.

  8. Hey Jim,

    Many small businesses don’t see the importance of developing attractive logo’s and marketing materials that supports their message. A sloppy look can translate into unmemorable brand.


    • Good point Mark. I recall a friend recently telling me he attended a networking event and was introduced to a guy, who handed him a home made business card, on thin, perforated paper! As he said, it hardly shows a focus on quality.

  9. Hi Jim,
    I like your comments in the Marketing fashions section – “fundamentals of marketing”, “principles of influence”, “human behaviour” and reference to your experience 25 years ago.
    My sales training emphasised that people buy from people, so now it’s worth developing a personal brand, through LinkedIn, Facebook or a blog. Reputation has always been important, it’s just the tools have been updated.
    And the 1:many approach is a practical reality, to allow enough time to build deeper relationships with a few who will hopefully reciprocate.

  10. Direct marketing is a great way to capture local business. There are plenty of other marketing strategies that I feel could have the same out come.

  11. I had some issues recently where I wanted to have a brand name ready to start using with any future clients, rather than just my name.

    I really like the idea of owning a brand, rather than directing a client to my personal site (even if that site turns into where all my business takes place), but instead having them associate me being the owner of ‘insert name’.

    I thought this would be particularly useful as I may not be the only person they have contact with due to working alongside at least two other people, depending on the clients requirements. It would be easier for them, rather than saying I outsource certain tasks to respectable friends.
    I believe there are many strengths to having a brand name.

    • Good point Stuart. Lots of companies have the problem, of people (especially larger clients) wanting to work with the person, whose name is over the door. This happens a lot with accountancy and legal practices.

  12. I don’t think it’s wise for small businesses to spend money on brand marketing. It’s only worth spending for giant brands. For small business, you should focus on getting targeted customers, then when you grow you can expand to marketing your brand.

    • Hi Henway. So, you think it IS binary – That small business owners must do one or the other? What about the small business in the example, who spent pennies and generated a great result? What’s your reasoning for suggesting they close the door on brand marketing?

    • I’d disagree, and I’ll pick out a word you used: targeted.

      If a small business was to target at a particular form of advertising and push their brand marketing through that channel, say as an example local radio, I believe they could see a great return.

      On the other hand they may see nothing if they placed a TV advert, billboard, etc. at the wrong time (such as an Egyptian holiday billboard I see at my local train station currently) or in a bad location.

      Stu :)

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