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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Branding Yourself is Nonsense

Professionals new to marketing make the mistake of taking their cues from big business. Don’t market or advertise your services as big businesses do as your context is not the same. The main issues hinge on the difference between “push and pull” and “branding.”

Push and Pull

Large companies use the “pull” method of marketing. General Motors runs ads to make their cars look enticing to pull you into the dealership to take a test drive. Intel advertises “Intel inside” in order to have you come to the computer dealer and ask for an Intel machine. This type of advertising to be effective takes A LOT of money. You don’t have that much. You cannot run full page ads in your daily newspaper day after day to generate sufficient business. Even if you did, it would be a very inefficient use of your money.

For your context, you want to “push” people to you. “Push” technologies include:
  • Cold calls
  • Seminars
  • Direct Mail
  • Use of telemarketers
  • Networking
Notice that pull marketing is passive: the advertiser runs the ad and hopes for something to happen. Push marketing does not leave things to chance. You make direct contact with the prospect and push them into action. The cost of this marketing is lower than pull marketing and more cost effective.

Direct Response vs. Branding

There has been much written and talked about in the last 15 years about “branding yourself.” Frankly, this is promoted by people who make money by selling you branding items: brochures, radio ads, newspaper ads, etc. Do not waste money on branding activities. It will cost you a lot and produce very low results. You want to focus your marketing on direct response activities. Direct Response means that:
  1. You always ask the prospect to respond to your marketing
  2. You can always measure the result and profitability of a campaign

When you are sold a branding ad in the newspaper, the seller will always tell you that you cannot measure it directly because you don’t know how many people saw your ad and the “cumulative build up” of name recognition. This is simply an argument to keep you advertising and the seller making commission. If instead, you run a direct response ad, an ad offering a free booklet “Six Strategies to Cut Taxes Your CPA Never Mentioned,” you can count the number of calls you get. You can now calculate your cost per prospect, factor in your conversion rate to clients and then calculate your cost and profit per new client to determine the profitability of this ad campaign.

Use push not pull. Forget about branding and make direct response your mantra.