Life used to be so simple. Business professionals knew their products, explained them to the customer, sold the benefit of their personal service and expertise, and a relationship was born.
Then the world changed.
By my estimation, all advertising is now marketing (read "branding"). Some platforms have always been more about branding than advertising. I mean, really, who's driving down the highway at 70 mph and thinks "I need to take the next exit and go buy the Rolex I saw on that billboard."
Consumers now are more savvy than ever. Often, they know more about the product they want to buy than the person selling it to them. And if the sales clerk doesn't have some modest knowledge of the product, they come off looking like a doofus and damaging the store brand. Worse than that, if you believed the old story that a happy customer would tell one and an unhappy customer would tell 10, that latter number is now easily in the 100s. I know each and every one of you has seen someone flamed on social media -- fairly or unfairly -- after a bad experience.
It's all about branding. Getting your name in front of the consumer, over and over, in a positive fashion. When they need your product or service, and they search Google, you want a brand that has recall. "I know them. I've seen their name." And hope that what they remember isn't the review from some random troll.
Business owners are overwhelmed. I get it. It matches the world we live in. But forget having that "sale". Focus on getting your name out in as many ways as possible in a positive fashion. Your ad in the newspaper, on the radio or TV, that targeted direct mail piece, the sign on your vehicle. It all helps build brand awareness.
Major marketers understand that. They emphasize brand as much or more than product. The sale ad for 10 percent off, and hoping consumers will line up at the door has gone the way of leisure suits and the floor-mounted high beam switch.
Brand yourself. Brand your company. Over and over. Then decide what you want to sell and whether you need to have a "sale."
Written by David Stringer
Vice-President, Advertising at the Tyler Morning Telegraph