Julie Guest Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Best Selling Author

David Ogilvy

How to Super Charge Your Marketing By Going Against the Grain

"Brand is the 'f' word of marketing. People swear by it, no one quite understands its significance and everybody would like to think they do it more often than they do" - Mark di Soma, Audacity Group In marketing your business, if you’re like most solopreneurs, you’ve probably been lead to believe that the key to successful marketing is building a strong brand. The success of companies like Coca Cola, Louis Vuitton, Adidas, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart, branding giants of our time make this a very logical assumption to make.  Unfortunately this assumption is lethal for small business owners.

What is brand advertising anyway?

In its simplest form, brand advertising is image-based advertising.

You push an image, a tagline, a slogan out to the marketplace in the belief it will attract new people to your business.

Your competitive edge is building a stronger brand presence in your marketplace than the guy down the street.

The only problem with small business owners doing brand advertising is that you don’t have the mega million dollar marketing budget that’s required to even make a “brand splash" in your market place.  Nor do you likely have the 10, 15 or 25 years it takes to really build brand awareness.

The job of your marketing is actually very simple. It has only one objective. Get you sales today.

Brand advertising is an extremely inefficient and deadly slow way for you to make sales now. It places you at the mercy of your buyers buying schedule – they’ll only buy from you when they’re good and ready (if they ever are, assuming of course they remember you and your brand!).

Instead, the far more powerful and cost efficient way to advertise is direct response advertising.  Which is the exact opposite of brand advertising.  Direct response advertising compels your audience to take immediate action, today, now.  It’s the kind of advertising that’s been around for hundreds of years–ever since the traveling medicine man rolled his wagon into town and handed out flyers offering a special discount on his miracle cure for baldness elixir.

By using direct response advertising you also remove the guess work from your advertising because you know, down to the penny, how effective an ad is and how much money it brought you.  With brand advertising there is no way to measure effectiveness except by guessing (by the way, the lack of accountability is why ad agencies love brand advertising so much!).

So how do you stop brand advertising and switch to direct response?

I have a 32 point checklist I use when writing direct response ad copy, but here are two of the most important elements to include in a direct response ad.

1) Include a compelling offer in every piece of ad copy you write.

What carrot can you offer prospects that is so enticing, so bold, and so darn delicious that it will cause them to leap out of their La-Z-Boy arm chair, kick the cat out of the way, grab their coat, brave a sub zero snow storm, and drive with bald tires to go buy the thing you’re selling?

Remember, your offer shouldn’t be good.  It should be great.  Something like "Place an order by Noon and get free shipping," qualifies only as good because it's likely that your competitors offer the same thing!

2)  Use a strong headline that arouses curiosity and answers that age old marketing question: "What’s in it for me?"

Using great headlines in your ad are everything! One of the best headlines of all time is “A little mistake that cost a farmer $3,000 a year."  Imagine you were a farmer back in the 1930s and your annual income was only $9,000.  Wouldn’t this be an ad you’d want to read?

Direct response marketing is your own secret weapon to turbo charge your response rates, make more money and attract prospects to you like bees to a honey pot.  It’s a much smarter way to run a business than marketing by chasing your prospects and hoping that when they feel ready to buy, they’ll somehow remember your brand.

The Worst Marketing Mistake You Can Make In Your Business

When I made the switch from escaping my corporate job to becoming a freelance copywriter, one of the things I was most excited about was building my brand. I’d had come up with a snappy name for my business (Blazing Copy), created a cool tagline and I’d hired someone to create a logo.  Actually I agonized over the logo because I wanted it to be just perfect... it was after all going to be my brand which was what was going to attract clients to me.

Right?

Maybe you’ve thought the same thing in your business.  All you need to do to get more clients is to get your brand “out there” more.  Build a stronger, better brand than your competition so that way, anytime anyone thinks of needing what you sell – they think of you.

Sounds perfect in theory.  This is, after all, what big businesses all do to get big.  They advertise and build their brand.

Unfortunately as a marketing strategy for Solopreneurs, this brand-driven marketing strategy is fatally flawed, and is responsible for more business failures than any other one thing.

I’m about to shave about 10 years off your marketing learning curve and teach you something that I never learned getting a degree in marketing….

Using brand advertising or “position type” advertising is the single worst way for Solopreneurs to market their business.  It's ridiculously costly, inefficient and most importantly – IT DOESN’T WORK.

Why? Many reasons actually.  Here are the main ones:

1)    Building brand recognition is a marketing strategy used by big BIG companies who have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on their advertising.  It's taken companies like Apple, Coca Cola, Louis Vuitton billions of dollars to build brand recognition and 30 - 100 years to get any kind of brand recognition.  You don’t have the luxury of having either millions of dollars or 30 years to start making real sales.

2)    Brand advertising is an extremely inefficient way to market a business which doesn’t necessarily result in an increase in sales.  It doesn’t even work for a lot of the BIG companies who do it (Ford was spending more than 20 million advertising on American Idol, meantime it was hemorrhaging red ink; Circuit City had a recognizable brand, so did Borders and Linens n’ Things).

3)    Brand advertising is NOT trackable.  If you’re putting brand ads out there, you have NO idea if they’re actually driving people to your business.  If they are working you don’t know, so how can you replicate the ads and get more out there?  And if they’re not working, then you’ve no idea either.  You might as well be flushing your hard earned marketing dollars down the toilet.  (Side note: this is why ad agencies are such BIG fans of brand advertising – as it's not trackable they can’t be held accountable for results either!  They’ll take the credit if sales go up (even though this is may very well be caused by something else, and they’ll point the finger elsewhere when their brand campaigns bomb).

4)    Brand advertising puts you at the mercy of your target market.  THEY get to decide when they’ll buy from you, which might be a month from now.  It might be a year from now.  This doesn’t help you any – you’ve got bills to pay, a family to feed and a business to run now.  You need sales NOW.  Today.

So let’s recap why doing brand based marketing for your business is a really bad idea.

Using your brand to try and market you business is a bad idea because it takes millions of dollars to make any impact in your market, it’s an extremely slow way to build a business (brand building takes decades), it's like playing blind archery with your marketing money because you’ve no idea if those ads are even working, and it doesn’t necessarily result in an increase in sales.  It also gives all the power to your target market, they get to decide when they’ll buy from you, instead of you being able to call the shots and compel them to take action, immediately.

So how then should you market your business?

Simply with one objective: to market in a way that enables you to make sales TODAY.  Right now.  Use marketing that is trackable so you can immediately measure ROI and know if it's a smart use of your marketing budget, AND market in such a way that compels your prospects to take immediate action.

This is what’s known as Direct Response Marketing.  It’s the ugly sister of advertising because it’s ridiculously effective, 100% trackable and it's only measure of effectiveness is how much money it brings in. Not how pretty, cool or creative the ad was.

Imagine that.  Marketing that really works to attract new clients and gets them to take action when you want them to act (and not when they feel like it).

Next week I’ll share with you inside secrets as to how you can quickly and easily start transforming all your marketing into Direct Response marketing.

Stay tuned!

Ode to David Ogilvy

One of the Most Brilliant Advertisers of All Time – This cantankerous and controversial old Scotsman would have turned 100 this year.

Best Ogilvy Quotes:

“Good copy can't be written with tongue in cheek, written just for a living. You've got to believe in the product."

 “If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative.”

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”

“Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine."

“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

“Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.”

“I don't know the rules of grammar... If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.”

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”

Recommended Reading: “Ogilvy On Advertising” by David Ogilvy – he’s funny, insightful and a brilliant writer and copywriter.