Brand Marketing Versus Direct Response Marketing. Which Is Better?

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Primary Blog/Brand Marketing Versus Direct Response Marketing. Which Is Better?
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Brand Marketing Versus Direct Response Marketing

The two broad categories of marketing you need to know are Brand Marketing versus Direct Response Marketing.

Each type serves a specific purpose for businesses.

Each type is effective as long as the business understands the goals and expectations associated with each type.

We will discuss each type separately.

Brand Marketing

Brand marketing is a long-term strategic plan to continuously boost a brand’s recognition and reputation.

At its core brand marketing is the process a business undertakes to establish and grow a relationship between its brand and the consumer.

Rather than highlighting an individual product or service, brand marketing promotes the brand as a whole, using its products or services as proof points to support the brand’s promise.

Brand marketing examples would include Coke, Nike, Goodyear, etc.

The goal of brand marketing is for the brand to be the first company that comes to a customer’s mind when a need arises.

When a consumer has a flat tire and needs new tires, Goodyear hopes that consumer will remember all the Goodyear TV ads and the Goodyear blimp providing aerial photos at all the sporting events. If the consumer remembers, they are more likely to ask for a Goodyear product.

When a teenager needs new tennis shoes, Nike hopes that teenager will remember that Michael Jordan wore Nike shoes, that Lebron James wears Nike shoes, as well as the “Just Do It” ads. If he does remember, he will likely tell his parents he wants the Air Force or the Air Max shoes.

That is the way brand marketing works.

It may include billboards, print ads, social media ads, TV ads, etc.

Brand marketing is effective but does have some serious limitations:

1. There is no way to track a specific ad to a consumer’s response – So, how many people became a customer and purchased a product because of that ad cannot be tracked. So it is not possible to know the true results of the ad, good or bad.

2. It is very expensive – Since there can be no accurate tracking, you have no accurate way to know what your return on your ad spend was. That makes it very expensive.

3. It is known as a “shotgun” process – You know your target, but when you shoot a shotgun, the buckshot goes everywhere. You just hope some of it actually reaches the right target. Others call it a “spray and pray” process. You spray your advertising into the public and then pray the right people see it.

4. It is a long-term strategy – It does not generate new customers quickly.

5. Its emphasis is on the company and the brand, NOT the customer.

As mentioned previously, brand marketing has its place in business.

However, it is usually best used by large corporations with massive marketing budgets.

In addition, these corporations have different goals with their marketing compared to small to medium sized corporations such as healthcare practices.

They have stockholders who want to see their brand advertised even if there is no call to action.

They have a board of directors who expect to see brand advertising consistently.

This type of brand marketing is not cost-effective for a typical healthcare practice.

However, too many healthcare practices try to utilize brand marketing and model what Goodyear and Nike do. For example, they contribute financially to organizations which in return, put up a sign with the healthcare practice’s logo on it acknowledging them as a supporter.

Although having your practice’s name and logo seen in such organizations is good, how many new patients do you actually acquire as a result? There is no way to know. Do you really have enough money to be able to do such brand marketing with no ability to track whether it is cost effective or not?

Now, that doesn’t mean the practice’s brand is not important. It just means there are more cost-effective means of creating awareness for your brand and broadcasting your message.

Direct Response Marketing

By contrast, Direct Response Marketing is designed to elicit an immediate response by encouraging customers to take specific action.

Direct Response Marketing usually targets a specific potential customer. This targeting results from research on the target audience. This research allows the business to know the customer’s needs and desires. What are their most pressing problems currently?

When your marketing can address those specific problems and needs, you can offer a proven solution they can receive by taking immediate action.

Unlike brand marketing, direct response marketing provides a specific call to action.

Here are some examples of possible specific calls to action:

1. Buy now

2. Make an appointment now

3. Claim your FREE report now

4. Sign up for an email newsletter now

5. Download this ebook now

6. Register for this webinar now

7. Etc.

Since you are asking for a specific, immediate response, there are metrics you can track to know how many people saw the ad as well as how many took the requested action.

Since you can track the responses, you can calculate your marketing costs.

The goal with Direct Response Marketing is to put $1 into marketing and receive $2 or more in return.

When that goal is achieved, your marketing costs you nothing. It actually becomes an investment, not an expense.

Here are some examples of effective Direct Response Marketing:

1. Harry’s referral program – Harry’s is a leader in the men’s shaving space and has grown using content and direct response marketing. One effective campaign they used to grow was their refer a friend program. The call to action was simple: Refer a friend, receive free products and other promotions. It was trackable and was very effective.

2. Proactiv – Proactiv grew their brand enormously with infomercials including immediate calls to action. One such campaign offered limited-time deals such as a free face moisturizer with immediate purchase. These campaigns were extremely successful. Using such direct marketing principles Proactiv grew exponentially.

3. Spotify – The online music library used direct response marketing to grow their subscribers. Their call to action was to have customers sign up now for a FREE trial subscription. Their assumption was that once people started using it with the free trial, they would like it so much, they would then subscribe once the free trial ended.  They were right!

For businesses such as typical healthcare practices without a massive marketing budget, direct response marketing is much more appropriate.

With direct response marketing, practices can track the results of their marketing and advertising costs. That way, campaigns that are not cost-effective can be canceled and those that are profitable can be continued and scaled as needed.

Furthermore, by keeping up with your costs, you can calculate what it costs you to acquire a new patient. You can also calculate the average lifetime value of one new patient.

The most well-known direct response marketer is Dan Kennedy. Dan Kennedy’s famous statement is, “Whatever company can spend the most money to acquire a new customer wins.”

The question is, if you organize your marketing campaigns in such a way that they are making you money and not costing you money, how much would you be willing to spend on marketing?

An unlimited amount, obviously!  Then, you win!!

And you certainly win compared to those providers and provider groups spending untraceable sums of money to promote their brand.

Direct Response Marketing will make your brand noticeable and recognizable, but that is not the primary focus.

The primary focus is to acquire more new patients real soon!

In addition, because of the tracking, interested potential patients who did not fulfill the call to action can still be followed up with additional information and additional outreach.

So, Brand Marketing and Direct Response Marketing are the two broad categories of marketing types.

For healthcare providers, Direct Response Marketing is by far the better and most cost-effective choice. 

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Ben Holt, M.D.

CEO , Healthcare Provider Marketing

Dr. Holt is the CEO of Healthcare Provider Marketing.  He is passionate about both healthcare and marketing.  His goal is to help healthcare providers maximize their revenue through new marketing and business strategies.