The War On Brand
Branding vs. Lead Generation – Ending the Budget War Once and for All
How is your company’s marketing budget divided up? In a lot of marketing departments, when it comes to budget, there’s a war being waged between brand marketers and lead generation marketers. And it seems that brand marketers are very much losing that battle. In 2007, 47% of marketing funds were going towards lead generation. Today, that number has increased to 72%.
How have lead generation marketers become so successful? The secret is their ability to show short-term sales impact. A study from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising on marketing effectiveness in the digital era shows that direct response efforts yield fast results and quick hits. However, they become gradually less effective over time. This is true across many sectors, including financial services.
Brand marketing works on a very different time horizon. It takes longer to ramp up, but it delivers better returns in the long run. A year later, when the fruits of lead generation have long since fallen by the wayside, the results of successful branding are still going strong. That is, as long as a company has the patience to stick around and see their branding efforts’ success blossom.
So which should you focus on? Quick results, or long-term ones? Well, ideally, both. While lead generation may be winning the war against branding, the best results happen when the two become allies, working together.
The same IPA study shows that the optimal balance of brand and demand is a 60/40 split - 60% branding, 40% direct response, in both digital and traditional marketing. That’s how you get optimal impact – pricing power, awareness, sales.
If your ratio is skewed too much one way or the other, you’re going to get suboptimal results. If you aren’t actively engaged in branding, then how do you show potential financial services clients who you are and what you stand for?
Too many financial services companies focus on lead generation as the main goal , however, it’s only a means to an end. You may have generated plenty of leads, but without brand equity, there’s no motivation for those leads to convert to clients.
On the other hand, if you just have brand marketing without lead generation, you can’t move potential clients through the sales funnel. They may know your brand, but they’re not actually connected with your company. You can’t grow your client base if there are no leads to convert.
We’ve started to see the 60/40 rule in action ourselves. When our advertisers blend brand and demand they get much better results. The chart below shows the results of a recent advertising campaign. The advertiser ran pure acquisition marketing for a time and drove a 0.2% conversion rate. But when they blended brand messaging into the campaign, the conversation rate more than tripled.
In the end, the war on brand isn’t a war worth fighting. Remember that it’s not a competition. You all have the same goal, and you all play a role in reaching that goal. So, negotiate a truce, with a 60/40 split of the budget between branding and lead generation. By finding ways to invest in both tactics together, you increase the success rate for everyone!