Lead Gen vs. Branding?

Step 3: Make Branding and Lead Generation Work Together

Lead generation, promotional advertising and brand-building produce new and sustainable growth when they work together.  However, sometimes these things may seem to be at odds because sales and marketing leaders don’t always agree on what is most important.

The fact is, they are equally important because they each serve an essential purpose.

Brand-Building Drives Long-Term Growth

Branding isn’t just a logo. It isn’t just about making pretty pictures either.

Whether your target audience is business decision-makers, consumers, subscribers, donors, or all of the above, the purpose of branding is to create both an intellectual and emotional connection with them so they want to learn more about your company, product or services and choose your offerings over your competitors’. 

When your brand stands out from the crowd it not only becomes memorable, it motivates people to take action. In other words it generates leads.

A strong brand that lives up to its promise also ensures that your customers will fall in love with it. Strong, results-driven branding integrated across all marketing channels, not only helps to generate new leads that increase sales in the immediate future, it also makes your customers want to come back for more and refer their business colleagues, friends or family. 

The downside is that branded advertising campaigns both on and offline can become expensive if you aren’t strategic in your approach. 

Non-Branded Lead Generation Drives Short-Term Growth

Focusing on lead generation programs and promotional campaigns alone without any consideration for brand, can still work to attract audiences who are closer to the bottom of the sales funnel. These prospective customers already need or want a specific service or product, have done their research and are almost ready to make a decision.

However, these campaigns and programs may focus on category, product or industry but do nothing to create brand recognition for a specific organization or offering.  They do not build an emotional bond between the target audience and your brand prior to a sales pitch so your salespeople often have to work harder to sell brand value and close the sale.

People who have responded to non-branded campaigns that emphasize price savings or a sale offer alone or those that come from lead aggregators also known as pay-per-lead vendors, are much more likely to be price shoppers. So, salespeople may find themselves scrambling to make offers or provide discounts that could make the sale less profitable if it closes. Or they may not  close the deal at all.

If your company offers CPG products, and your marketing focuses on promotions alone, the same thing happens in a different way.  When the target starts shopping for the type of product you offer, based on price or a discount alone, and your brand is not established yet or is not engaging, it is easier for the consumer to simply choose your competitors’ product because it costs even less.  Conversely, some will perceive your product actually has less value and choose a more expensive product with better branding instead.  

Nonetheless, if you need to grow sales immediately while controlling marketing costs, non-branded campaigns often have to be a part of the mix because the cost per lead can be significantly lower.

Why are Non-branded Campaigns Cheaper?

When you buy leads from lead aggregators for example, the cost for the advertising to get these leads is shared with multiple companies, including your competitors and distributed accordingly. The advertising created by lead aggregators necessarily must lack brand differentiation or multiple companies in the same industry couldn’t utilize it.

Generally, promotional only types of campaigns do not require as much creative ability to develop so if you do not want to go the lead aggregator route, you could hire a vendor who specializes in a plug-and-play marketing approach and already has a template that they use for your industry that’s ready to go.  Since creative development is basically already completed, you will save on costs.

What’s Better?  

Let’s face it, getting high-quality, strategic creativity and brand-building out of your team or vendor that is more than “pretty pictures” and produces a creative product that isn’t generic looking  isn’t cheap. This is because it takes time, research, talent and imagination to do something that will hit the mark.  Plus, if you need to grow brand awareness, buying mass advertising can use up your budget very quickly and may not show an immediate ROI. So you need a creative marketing strategy leader who not only knows how to reach your targeted  demographic, but also understands the psychographics of that audience so the campaigns will be laser-focused, create engagement, build brand recognition and foster brand affinity. 

The thing that non-branded leads are good for is their quantity at a much lower price point.  The leads keep flowing and they keep the sales teams busy. Research, including the marketing analytics reports Laureen Peck produced regularly while serving as CMO for a renewable energy company, show that salespersons close non-branded leads at a lower rate than leads that come in from branded campaigns. However, the sales volume these less qualified leads produce is often large enough to make the result profitable and attractive to small or mid-sized business owners.  Salespeople may not like them much, but company owners love their ROI.

There are pros and cons for both branded campaigns and non-branded campaigns. The trick is to know how to get the best out of both of them.

Step 4: Plan for Growth –  Learn More