It's a challenge and it's troubling.
Last week, we were asked about an advertiser who insists item and price advertising is king. "Branding is a waste of money." How could this man be persuaded otherwise?
I don't know that he can. Maybe if he's presented with the right question.
This advertiser lives in a world filled with brand advertising. He sees it and hears it. It's done by businesses bigger and more successful than his. Yet he is 100% certain that he is doing it right and those businesses are doing it wrong.
So he spends his own money saying, "Here's my item and here's my price, buy now!"
I used to work for a guy who insisted item and price advertising was king.
One day, he bought a direct-mail marketing package that couldn't survive on item and price advertising. So I became his copywriter.
For a year, I wrote brand-based marketing copy that was fun, engaging, informative, and effective.
Every time a marketing piece went out to the mailing list, there was a corresponding bump in sales. It was right there, on the page, in hard numbers.
We could prove these brand-building advertisements were effective--yet he canceled all of it.
He refused to acknowledge a correlation.
Yes, he had a bump in sales each time. But the mailing contained no item and price advertising. Individual sales could not be directly attributed to the mailing.
Therefore, the advertising was a failure.
"Yes, I have my desired result--but it defies what I know to be true. Therefore, the evidence is wrong."
People do not crave items and prices. They crave relationships.
It's simple psychology. Relationships make us feel important. Strong branding builds a relationship.
Item and price advertising is an instruction to buy now. It does not make the customer feel important or appreciated.
It reduces the relationship to a transaction.
"Give me the money. Thank you and goodbye."
The right branding makes the right customer feel important. Here are two examples.
For 35 years, Motel 6 has been crushing it by making the budget lodging customer feel important. "We'll leave the light on for you." That says, "Hey, you are important to us." Their brand advertising follows suit.
And oh, by the way...Motel 6 also has a unique selling proposition: "The lowest priced room of any national chain."
There's your item and your price.
No, there is no number. That's because those numbers change all the time. Why do you think they put the price on a lighted sign outside the motel that can be changed all the time?
Ritz-Carlton branding is also making the luxury lodging customer feel important.
Their motto is "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen."
Customer service is part of their branding.
Their branding tagline is, "Let us stay with you."
Their website says, "The Ritz-Carlton stands ready to create unforgettable moments from some of the world's most treasured destinations. Every day, every guest, is our chance to create a lasting memory. What will you remember?"
Ritz-Carlton and Motel 6 each you ownership of the experience.
But Ritz-Carlton doesn't need item and price advertising. You already know the price is very, very high. That price is part of their branding. Along with all the luxurious images in their brand advertising, you know you're going to feel important.
Motel 6 or Ritz-Carlton: branding is not a waste of money for either one.
It is an investment in their future sales for a core customer who is not ready to "buy now."
COVID has branding, too: that of a beast devouring the economy.
Everyone is talking about pivoting their business. But is anyone talking about having better branding?
Better branding builds a relationship.
Better branding makes the customer feel good about your business.
Better branding makes the customer want to work with you tomorrow.
"Buy now" is a lowest-common-denominator tactic for right now.
"You are important to me" is a strategy for a lifetime.
And the businesses who come out on top tomorrow will have done it using better branding.
But, will the item and prices advertisers survive?
Know someone who needs to electrify their branding for business as unusual? There's still a free copy of Lightning Branding: How to Generate Revenue Faster With An Electrifying New Brand is still available by clicking here.
For details about our new Lightning Branding courses, both do-it-yourself and we-do-it-with-you editions, click here. (There's even a video of us!)
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.