Elevating the brand is the sexy side of marketing. These are TV commercials, YouTube homepage takeovers and big interactive social engagement plays. All of these initiatives are centered around the kinds of things they teach in marketing classes in college – market segmentation, product differentiation and value propositions.
Selling the product is about waiting until someone is ready to buy instead of persuading them to buy. This is the direct response type of advertising where every dollar spent is expected to bring in an anticipated return – paid search, display remarketing, email and affiliate marketing.
I think there is place neglected by brand building and direct response that is often overlooked in between both strategies.
Big brands ignore his middle opportunity because all they know (TV and print) is what they’ve been doing for decades. And the people focused on selling the product don’t tread in the middle opportunity because they are tied to really efficient return goals.
This middle ground is based on broader and more generic search terms, display advertising with layers of inferred and expressed data, content and social marketing based on micro-conversions, etc.
This middle ground is more measurable than brand building but also more costly than a lot of direct response advertising. Its conducive to a/b testing and optimization but less sexy. It’s more targeted and relevant but casts a smaller net. Ad Agencies don’t want to touch it because its not showy enough and can be easily pulled apart with data. Direct marketers don’t go there because it brings down their remarkable ROIs.
Yet I think this is place where a disruptive brands can win.