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Marketing Can (and Should) Inspire and Convert

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of marketing: Brand marketing and direct response marketing. Brand marketing is about awareness and relationships. It gets an audience in your funnel (or gets you in their consideration set). Direct response marketing elicits a specific response — buy, click, download — and is more naturally aligned with bottom-of-the-funnel activities.

Unfortunately, many of today’s businesses and brands are obsessed so much with the bottom line that they demand direct response metrics as the sole standard by which marketing efforts are measured. This is why many brand marketers are frustrated with understanding their ROI of digital or social or email or anything.

Most marketing efforts are about inspiring an audience to like you, not to pay you money.

Certainly, you need to have direct response mechanisms built in to your marketing. But forgoing brand marketing to focus on direct response lessens the potential impact and turns you into a sales and coupons business. Using brand marketing to lay a solid foundation of awareness, relationships and trust tees you up to have higher volume and efficiency in your direct response mechanisms.

You have to lay the foundation before you throw up the house walls.

Ideally, you’ll be able to balance both in a compelling way. Sara Meaney reminded me of this in her recent talk at TBEX Asia-Pacific. While teaching the travel conference about creating dream-worthy content, she said, “We need to remember to inspire as well as convert.”

She gave a few examples of brands doing that, like this video from Marriott, which sells the dream of Paris. It gets people in the top of the funnel. All of those booking mechanisms and triggers on Marriott’s website will take care of the direct response part when you get there, provided your response to the dream is strong enough.

Whether you’re running your brand’s social advertising, managing SEM efforts or planning content, let’s do our prospective customers — not to mention our marketing metrics — a big favor and not forget to inspire on the way to convert, shall we?

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