The goal of branding is to build a relationship with future customers. When a relationship has finally been established, you become who these people think of immediately – and feel the best about – when they, or any of their friends, need what you sell. Direct marketers often disdain mass media because it doesn’t allow them to “target and track” their prey. But these same Direct Marketers will give heavy bags of money to online influencers. It never occurs to them that every person listening to the radio or watching TV is an influencer of approximately 250 people. These 250 people are their Realm of Association. They are the people who listen to them when they speak. They are mostly friends and co-workers, but some of them are family. You have people in your life – acquaintances – with whom you are familiar, but they never quite made it into that circle that is your true Realm of Association.
Here’s my question for you. Do you trust those people who never contact you unless they want something from you?
Those people remind me of direct marketers. They target you – get something from you – and walk away smiling. Your true friends are the ones who spend time with you, who make you smile, laugh, feel good, and rarely ask for anything at all. A brand that you love is like a friend. Ads are either transactional or relational. A long series of transactional ads does not build a brand. It builds name awareness, yes, but not a brand. If I reach and win only 10 percent of your realm of association through my focused use of mass media, but you – my future customer – are not within that 10 percent, I am not worried in the slightest. My relational ads will have won the hearts of 25 of your best friends and it is likely that one or more of them will get my message to you when you finally need what I sell. If I reach and win 20% of your community through my relentless use of cheap and effective mass media, I will have reached 50 of your best friends. Decisions are rarely made in a vacuum. Each of us is surrounded by influencers who do not have blogs or podcasts or YouTube channels, but we value their opinions very highly. We trust the recommendations of our friends.
“Reaching the right people” is not the secret to building a brand. The secret is to say and do the right things.
Getting attention is easy. Any fool can do it. To win a person’s heart, you have to hold that attention. You have to nurture that little spark by the breath of your mouth and then blow it into a flame by your actions. You have to cause people to look forward to their next encounter with you. You have to make them enjoy spending time with you. This, mon chéri, is branding. Brand building is not something you test. Brand building is something you do. Your first encounter with a cold contact will be Low CAP. Low Conversion. Low Average sale. Low Profit margin. But when that contact types your name into the search block because they are looking for you – precisely you – those encounters will be High CAP. Direct marketers wear their CAPs low. Brand builders wear their CAPs high. The most successful direct marketers are those who first built their brands, then began offering specific things to their brand families at specific times, all the while maintaining and nourishing that bond their customers feel with the brand. My personal formula is one-third transactional ads, two-thirds relational. Television and radio advertising are astoundingly cheap and effective. They are the way to go if you want to build a brand. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.