A former manager of mine once told me, “The problem with marketing is that 50% of it works and 50% of it doesn’t, but nobody knows which is which.” Unfortunately, this sentiment is one often echoed throughout various industries. For many business owners, marketing can be frustrating and confusing, with a million different ways to spend money but no guaranteed way to earn returns. While there are endless options when it comes to building a marketing plan, most efforts fall into one of two camps: lead generation or branding.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation focuses on making the phone ring today and short-term gains, while branding focuses more on overall name recognition and long-term success. An organization can focus entirely on one or the other; however, the best marketing plans blend short-term lead generation with long-term branding efforts in order to lay the groundwork for success today and growth in the future.
For many organizations, especially newer and/or smaller ones, lead generation is the focus of most (if not all) efforts in the organization. Generating phone calls, web form entries and appointments keeps the doors open by leading to sales. In fact, if you are a B2C business, ignoring lead generation can doom your organization.
Any form of marketing can be used as lead generation; however, some channels are better suited than others. Canvassing, trade shows and other face-to-face marketing opportunities give the organization a chance to ask for the close and encourage customers to book an appointment or buy right then. Direct mailers, newspaper ads and other print marketing pieces also make good lead generation tools because they allow the business to include a call to action such as a special offer or “CALL NOW” wording encouraging customers to contact the organization. Regardless of the medium used, lead generation efforts look for immediate responses and short-term gains for the organization.
What is Brand Marketing?
Like lead generation efforts, brand marketing can also be utilized in a variety of channels; however, brand marketing typically focuses more on public awareness and name recognition rather than generating same-day leads. Branding efforts can sometimes include call to action verbiage (Call Now, Buy Today, etc.), but more often branding relies on ad frequency and hopes that customer awareness of the name is what prompts phone calls or web visits, not necessarily the call to action.
A good example of branding efforts would be radio and television commercials. Many individuals interact with radio and/or TV often; however, few consumers actually call directly from the aired ad compared to the amount of people that watched it. Broadcast ads tend to be short (60 seconds or less) and often air several times in key time slots (morning drives, evening news). The goal is for consumers to begin to associate a certain jingle, person or video with a company or brand, which then makes them more susceptible to choosing the brand when they are hit with other marketing efforts down the line.
Which One is Best For Your Company?
In many ways, lead generation is comparable to living paycheck to paycheck. It is a mentality focused on short-term gains and immediate responses, and if those responses fail to materialize the company could face serious problems. Individuals and companies can survive living paycheck to paycheck, but there is rarely a safety net if something goes wrong.
On the other hand, branding is more akin to putting money in a savings account. While branding efforts typically are slower to show results, they build the company’s name within a community, which will help them generate business down the line. Both lead generation and branding efforts have pluses and minuses, and as such, companies need to take a hard look at their capacity, budget and needs in order to create a plan that utilizes both.
Marketing that is solely lead generation focused leaves consumers wondering who that company is (if they even stop to wonder at all). It is similar to asking someone on a date without getting his or her name first. Branding efforts introduce the company to the public but may not ask for that theoretical date at all. Therefore, it is necessary for all companies to find a happy medium that suits their wants and needs.
Marketing requires introspection into the company as a whole by the individuals in charge, diving into the true desires of the organization. Marketing does not have to be an enigma understood by few; it simply requires finding the right balance of tools that will generate the results the company wants and needs. Realistically, companies need to find a way to generate leads today while also establishing their brand in and around the market, all while sticking to their budget and meeting capacity.
Much like managing finances, managing marketing is not easy and requires time and effort to get it right. Nevertheless, incorporating a diverse mix of lead generation and brand marketing tools will allow companies to generate leads today while laying the foundation for success in the future.
Need help balancing your marketing efforts? Jennasis & Associates has a team dedicated to finding the right marketing mix for our clients. Call or email us today to learn more about how Jennasis & Associates can help you with lead generation, branding efforts and beyond!
Tracie is a marketing consultant with a passion for helping companies reach their marketing and business goals. With experience in a variety of marketing avenues, her strengths lie in marketing strategy and management. She is currently getting her MBA at Capital University and hopes to run her own business someday. Fun Facts: She is a vegetarian, loves to bake, and likes hiking state parks in the warmer months.