When businesses plan their direct mail or email campaigns, their goal is generally customer acquisition or retention. But what about branding? Marketing campaigns explicitly designed to build your brand are as important as those for customer retention and sales. Why is branding so important?
1. Awareness. When people talk about your category of product or service, you want your name to be part of the mix. Think about categories such as laundry detergent (Tide), carbonated drinks (Coke, Pepsi), and shipping (FedEx, UPS). When people talk about your product category, you want brand recall and awareness like theirs.
2. Loyalty. Most people aren’t loyal to their favorite brands simply because of price or products. They are loyal because the brand resonates with them on a deeper level. Say you are a local hardware store that gives its employees days off to work through Habitat for Humanity to help build a house for a family in need. Once the house is finished, you might send a direct mail piece with the faces of smiling employees standing in front of a house with tools in their hands: “We’re more than the corner hardware store. We care!” Imagine the branding power of a message like that!
3. Referrals. People who have never used your product or service may still recommend it if they’ve encountered your brand enough times to develop a sense of familiarity.
4. Premium pricing. A powerful brand can lift your product or service out of the commodity marketplace. For example, with so many stores selling coffee, what makes people stand in line and pay top dollar at Starbucks? Branding!
5. Lower your marketing cost. Although you have to invest resources to create a strong brand, you can maintain it without having to re-tell your story over and over once your brand is established. Many budget-conscious marketers rely heavily on electronic media, but research shows that people still prefer print — and are more likely to remember it.
Successful marketing is built on three pillars: customer acquisition, customer retention, and branding. Make sure you are developing strategies for all three.