ROI is More Important Than Branding

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"My opinion is that image advertising is largely a waste of money, and because you can't measure the ROI, the practice of image advertising is questionable at best, and unproductive at worst."

Comment by Bob Bly — 11/18/2005 @ 1:52 pm

I was hanging out on the blog of Bob Bly the other day, (Bob is one of the top copywriters in the country), and found the above comment by Bob as part of a discussion on branding.

My take on branding is simply that it is where marketing is forced to go when the scale of the business has reached critical mass. In other words, your company has gone beyond simply selling a product or service and because of its size and market penetration, must become integral to the culture or collapse.

These brands must become stars to maintain the level of sales needed to maintain growth. It reminds me of a story about Carlos Santana.

You're a brand. Act like it.

It was back in the late Seventies when Carlos had turned from the rock and roll that made him famous to more contemplative jazz. One day his accountant came to visit. He essentially told Carlos he appreciated that Carlos had found God and was expressing his spiritual beliefs in his music.

However if he wanted to maintain the mansions, the cars, the pools and all the other rock star goodies, he'd better start selling records. Within a year, Carlos produced a new hit rock and roll record.

I don't have any clients in danger of becoming a cultural icon. Everyone I write copy for is busy watching the bottom line and, like all small businesses, trying to generate as many sales as they possibly can.

Small business can't afford "branding-style" marketing

For small business, Bob is right. Every time you think about advertising or marketing, the first thing you should ask is, how can I measure the return on investment? How can I track the increased sales generated by the money I'm spending on marketing? If your marketer can't answer that question, run screaming.

With your website, it's a simple matter of installing Google Analytics into your website code. It's easy and it's free. And the information that Google will generate for you will astound you.

You will know where people come into your website (never assume they come in on the Home page). You will know where they came from (hopefully they came from another site that is linking to you because of all the great information, products or services on your site). You will see how they move around on your site, how long they stay, and most importantly, where they are leaving from. Why is this important?

If people leave your site without buying your product, filling out a contact form, signing up for your newsletter, or clicking on your email, the last page they visited is a dead end page that is turning off visitors or at least, not turning them on enough to buy. Unless it's the Call Now! Page and the phone is ringing off the hook, that is the page that needs to be revised immediately!

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