The balance between relational brand-building vs. getting the immediate sale has confused businesses and thrown marketers into battle positions. Let’s call them the Brandies and the Digies.
The Brandies, descendants of Leo Burnett and David Ogilvy, cling to the notion that the pinnacle of marketing success is in building a brand. If they say “paper towel,” and you immediately think “Bounty,” the Brandies have won.
The Digies, a mutation of classified ads and Yellow Pages, trace their lineage back to Rosser Reeves and Claude Hopkins. The Digies obsess over today’s sale. If ducks are flying, we’re going hunting. If the ad didn’t sell, the ad wasn’t worth it.
The Brandies and Digies are in a war, and the Brandies are getting their butts kicked. The Digies have waged an all-out propaganda attack on businesses, promising them riches by morning if you buy their tools today.
The Brandies are deep into PSYOPS (Psychological Operations). A more elegant fight that involves psychological brainwashing to create habits. Their most devious weapon, the jingle, has been shown to change mindsets for generations.
The Digies have tapped into something. Businesses eager to make a buck in competitive marketplaces are enlisting by the thousands. The Digies have done what all good advertising should: They have identified the pain of the customer and promised fast-acting relief.
Now we come to you, Mr./Mrs. Business Owner. You are being asked (forced?) to make a choice. Join the Digi Guerillas and win battle after battle…or join the Brandy Alliance on the faith that your business wins tomorrow.
My spies on the inside tell me both sides are holding out on you. Brandies and Digies know how to end this, but they choose not to because the lucrative Advertising Industrial Complex is an open faucet of riches.
The secret they’re keeping from you is that both forces, working together, will do more than just one by itself. Les Binet and Peter Field uncorked this genie in The Long and the Short of It: Balancing Short and Long‑Term Marketing in 2013.
The magic comes when you combine, as the title suggests, LONG and SHORT. What nearly 3 decades of data show is that the short-term Digies are brilliant at winning customers now. The Brandies are laying the groundwork for tomorrow.
If you go for short-term results, you get paid now (AWESOME) and you live to see another day. However, the pain inflicted from living in short-term-land isn’t free from problems. It forces you to scorch the earth, and train your customers to wait for a sale. It cuts into your profits because you can’t sell it at full price tomorrow (NOT AWESOME).
The Brandies will take you on a long trip that’s been traversed by McDonald’s, Nike, Apple, and Bounty paper towels. It’s a harrowing journey that should work, but you don’t know for sure.
Binet and Field say this is a false choice. You should work to brand your business and be measuring things on a 5-year trajectory. But you should also find a way to sell stuff now. Otherwise, you’re likely to go hungry and never see 5 years.
Most businesses should lean a bit more on brand-building, while bringing in some sales-activation to capture “now” customers.
You can have your cake and six-pack, too. You just need to eat far less cake and get to the gym 3 times a week.
Businesses are burning white-hot and devoting 70-80% of their budget on “today” tactics. This is upside-down, according to Binet and Field. Their broad formula calls for about 60% of your budget spent on long-term brand-building, while 40% gets applied to sales-activation (this is a broad approximate and shifts industry to industry).
Your competitors are not, and will not, do this. And that’s good for you.
Hire an army of Digies to snare some of today’s sales, but never at the expense of the Brandies. The Digies help you win the battle. The Brandies will help you win the war.
You win today. And you win later.