In a recent article published in Response Magazine, Don Potter wrote the headline "Branding is Dead."
He starts out by saying:
"Over the years, many advertising practitioners have forgotten that the primary purpose of their profession is to sell stuff."
This sounds a lot like my post "What is the purpose of advertising anyway?" I was reacting to the multi-million dollar advertisements in the last Superbowl when I wrote:
"Things are indeed getting worse than we thought for advertising agencies that waste millions of dollars of their clients' money with advertising that does not get the cash register ringing."
But saying that all branding is dead was not Potter's point. He is simply stating the obvious that eludes many advertisers. "Advertising's true role? Sell!"
In his own editorial in the same issue, the editor-in-chief Thomas Haire says that "once so brilliant brand marketers who had no time for DR now have one chance to save themselves in the new marketing universe: line up to learn the secrets of direct response from its leading experts or face obsolescence."
If you have been in direct marketing for more than 10 years, then you know that the traditional direct marketer has indeed gained a new relevance in the eyes of corporate America. The call for accountable advertising has never wielded a stronger voice than right now.
Just look at the spending trends.
According to Jacqueline Renfrow, total ad spending fell 2.6% in 2008 while DR was up by 9.2% (third article down on the linked page).
But we must not make the same mistake that branders made when they took the position that direct marketers have nothing to teach them.
What are some of the lessons we can learn from positioning, branding and image building advertisers?