Do you understand the key differences between direct marketing and branding? Tami and Joe talk about how direct marketing and branding differ and why they’re important in differentiating your ROI.

Episode 5 Transcript:

Tami: Welcome to High Energy Marketing, a podcast with us, the digital marketing agency Ajax Union, where we interview our CEO, Joe Apfelbaum, on key marketing topics and we share everything you need to know to properly grow your business Online.

This is a Q&A podcast where we, the team, asked Joe questions about different topics and trends in marketing based off of his book, High Energy Marketing, you can get this book at ajaxunion.com to follow along with us.

This is the fifth official episode of our podcast about High Energy Marketing. And today we are going to discuss direct marketing versus branding. First, a little housekeeping, you can find us wherever you get your podcasts, go ahead and subscribe.

And now let’s move on to inspiration of the day: Joe, do you want to hit us with a quick inspiration minute before we get started?

Joe: Remember that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So make sure that if you have the right goals in mind that you also have the right people supporting your goals.

For example, in every area of our life, we can hire a coach to support us, whether it’s business, whether it’s spirituality, whether it’s health and fitness, or even in relationships, spend time with the people that have what you want. And you’re going to get closer to success.

Overnight success is usually a decade in the making. Remember to surround yourself with the right people.

Tami: Or longer, right? That’s great. Thank you so much. So today, we have a couple of questions for you, Joe. First question. And remember, we’re talking about direct marketing versus branding.

So Joe, what is the difference between direct marketing and branding? And can you give us some examples of each?

Joe: When people start marketing, often in a business, whether it’s a larger business or a smaller business, they often confuse branding and direct marketing. Branding is about creating awareness for your brand.

For example, a billboard in Times Square is a massive investment. Tami, if me and you put a picture of us in Times Square, do you think we get lots of exposure from that? Yes, lots of people would notice it.

But that exposure is not necessarily going to generate sales. Exposure is important because it builds credibility for your brand in the eyes of your customers. I’m not going to expect to get tons of sales from a billboard. But it might happen.

The purpose of the billboard is not to get sales, it’s to build credibility. And that same thing happens when you’re getting, for example, media coverage. Tami, when you had U.S. aerial you used to get a lot of media coverage. But it didn’t necessarily translate into actual dollars in the bank account. 

Tami: Right.

Joe: Because that’s not the purpose of it. When I was featured on TV, I didn’t really know exactly what would happen. I was featured on Fox Business News. Across the United States across the world.

They said 35 million people would see it, I was really excited. But guess what? That didn’t turn into business. Nobody called me except one guy who wanted donations. That person called me up and he’s like, “Joe, I see that you are featured on Fox Business. Would you like to donate money to my institution?” And I said, “Thank you for calling me. Did you enjoy the interview?”

Now, although 35 million people saw me on Fox Business, not a lot of people called, because branding is for credibility, not for sales. You need to be able to leverage that credibility with a direct marketing approach.

Tami: Alright, so when should I use one versus the other? How much time should I be spending on direct marketing? Versus branding? It seemed like you were just saying branding maybe doesn’t bring you sales. So why should anyone even bother?

Joe: Well, depends on what your goal is for your business. Different businesses have different goals; they want to achieve different things. If you just need sales, then you need to do a direct marketing approach.

If you don’t necessarily need sales right now, because you want to get your product into many stores, then it’s a different story. For example, let’s say you want to get your product into lots of Walgreens.

Walgreens wants to know that when people walk in, they’re going to notice your product and right away want to buy it. Like Coca-Cola, for example. They spend a lot of money on branding because they want companies to feature them.

And when people notice look at Coca-Cola they have a relationship with Coca-Cola already because Coca-Cola spent so much money on branding So in your business, it depends on what your goal is, what would you like to achieve?

Are you thinking short-term, I need sales because I don’t have cash. Are you thinking long term, hang on a second I want to brand myself to be number one in the market for my customer’s Money and cash is not really the most important thing right now.

My objective is to be known as number one, and money will come later. So ask yourself, what would I like to achieve in my business? And based on that, you move forward. That’s why when we start working with customers, the first thing we try to figure out is, what are your goals? What would you like to achieve? You can’t set a marketing strategy without understanding your goals.

Because if you randomly just start promoting yourself, by branding yourself, and your goal is to generate sales, you’re gonna fail. Or if your goal is to brand yourself, and you’re just doing a direct marketing approach, you’re also going to fail, because you might generate a few sales, but you’re not going to get the exposure that you wanted.

So understanding what your goal is in your business will help you be able to achieve the right result by using the right marketing strategy.

Tami: Okay, can branding ever help me generate sales?

Joe: The way that I use branding to generate sales is using my branding inside a direct marketing approach. So for example, when I created a cold call campaign, inside my cold call campaign, I would mention our Fox Business feature.

Or if I would do a cold email campaign, I would often feature our interview on Fox Business. And that would get people more interested in Ajax Union because I’m associating myself with a brand that is very well known and very well out there.

For example, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal. I have those logos on my website because I was featured on both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. And I want to associate myself when I’m doing a direct sales or direct marketing approach.

I want to leverage that credibility to help people understand the value of working with me. I leveraged my branding in my direct marketing initiatives, which helped me be able to have a better result from my direct marketing.

Tami: So how should a new company balance their budget between branding and direct marketing?

Joe: The balance in your budget is going to come from what your actual 90-day goals are. So in the next 90 days, what are your key performance indicators that you need to have? What are your goals?

What do you need to achieve? If you need more exposure, if you need the market to notice you and to know who you are, then you need to invest more money in branding. If you’re like, “I don’t care if anybody knows who I am, because I’m the lowest cost provider.

And I just want to get more conversations going and want to generate more sales,” then you’re going to do more of a direct marketing approach.

For example, you run a Google ad for people searching for the word 3D printer prices, the person searching for that keyword is probably in the market to purchase a 3D printer, you can send them to a landing page, capture their contact information and have a sales rep call them and see how many 3D printers they want to purchase.

We did this successfully for a company called Makerbot, and we helped them get a 300% increase in qualified leads and generate millions of dollars in new business from our direct marketing approach.

Understanding the difference between how to use branding, and how to use direct marketing is very important because it’ll help you understand your ROI, your return on investment. But you first have to set your goals as a business in order for you to understand which one you should invest more in.

Tami: Okay, so that makes a lot of sense. So probably know the answer to this one, but which is more likely to generate an ROI, branding or direct marketing? I’m obviously going to say direct marketing.

Joe: Not necessarily, it depends on what return you’re looking for from your investment. If you are not looking for sales as an ROI, then branding, and you’re looking for awareness, let’s say I said, You know what, I just launched a new book. It’s called High Energy Networking.

And I want the 5000 CEOs on the Inc 5000, to know that I launched this book. And just to know that when I call them if I decide to call them and invite them or to email them that I exist, so I’m going to do a branding campaign.

If instead I did a direct marketing campaign, and I got one CEO to have a conversation with me and even buy my services, I still failed. And I didn’t get an ROI.

Because the 5000 CEOs that I want to know me, like me, and trust me, don’t know me like me and trust me yet. And so if my objective is branding, then your ROI will say how many people actually clicked on the link, how many people actually came to my page, versus if my goal is direct marketing, the ROI will be determined by how many people actually submitted a lead form, or how many people actually decided to buy, things like that.

So your goals are tied to your key performance indicators. And those key performance indicators will determine what your actual ROI is. Are you getting a positive ROI or a negative ROI?

Tami: Wow, thank you so much. show that was amazing information. I hope everyone got as much out of that as we did.

On next week’s episode, we will be talking about the difference between B2B and B2C marketing (business to business versus business to consumer). So be sure to subscribe so you can catch that episode. And you can follow Joe on Instagram, and LinkedIn, and Facebook all @JoeApfelbaum. And you can follow us @AjaxUnion.

You can email us amazing@ajaxunion.com. Our music is by Michael Suarez. This podcast is produced by Sarah and Shannon, edited by Sami Mititelu, and we’ll see you next time.

Joe Apfelbaum: LinkedIn

Tami Schlichter: LinkedIn

Ajax Union: LinkedIn