Walking in another man's branded shoes

by Paul 4. September 2009 09:51

Augustine Fou recently wrote that branding today is ineffective, irrelevant, irritating and impotent. Here at MOB Media, we are strong believers in Direct Response. So you might expect that our response to his blog entry would be "ABOUT TIME SOMEONE SAID IT!" However, since I was told when I was very young that you should not judge someone (or something) until you have walked in their shoes, I am going to throw a curveball and try to take the other side of this argument for the sake of understanding everyone's point of view. Isn't that what we all learned to do in debate classes?

Here it goes (with a straight face and everything!):

The biggest problem is that when people say branding doesn't work it's because they don't even know what branding means. Agencies cannot by themselves "create branding". It's the customer experience that makes branding what it is. From the advertising and marketing, to the aisles of the store floor, to the packaging and the service after the purchase, that's all branding. Customers change their perception of the company through all of this activity and through continuous interaction with the product or service. An ad or image can only go so far. The experience is what matters! 

It's not really fair to say that brand strategy (keyword: strategy) is unimportant. If you look through history, you'll see that Coke, Pepsi, Nike, IBM, Apple, Google, Honda, etc, all have an identity. Something that you can hang your hat on as far as knowing what you're getting. Whether its the personal service, easy website to navigate, a great product, a warranty that is above all else, whatever, it's everything they do that matters. A label. A perception of who they are. Well, I guess that's why they call it a brand! I do not believe a bad product can survive with good branding. However, a poor product can swell its cash flow with great direct marketing, but ultimately will fail once the customer experiences the poor service, low quality, what have you. That is part and parcel of branding, so you can't discount its role in the marketing arena.

Agencies play an important role in the branding strategy. But they're not the only ones that need to make a brand commitment. MOB Media itself has helped our clients create more than just logos, advertising and pretty pictures. We have dug in deep to understand the psyche of our audience. We have recommended that MBA students should have a different expectation walking into a classroom than the undergrads. With that same client we recommended a more prestigious name for the MBA program and separated our client from its under graduate pinning’s as they didn't match what an MBA student was looking for. Yes, we used advertising as one of our arrows in our branding quiver, but it was unique to the experience of a potential customer. We also, brought in leather chairs and conference tables. Higher end technology and such. That's not the role of a traditional agency, but it's what you have to do to be anointed a good brand marketer. And of course, the product or service has to match the work agencies do. Oh, by the way, most of the heavy lifting came from our direct response initiatives, but we'll save that for another day! 

So, there you have it. I have walked in another man's Berluti's. Branding is still vital to an overall strategy, but let's all realize that in today's economy, continued sales is what counts.


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The Why of Spaghetti

by Paul 24. July 2009 09:04

The old adage from Wannamaker that he knew 50% of his advertising didn't work, but not which half, should be laid to rest. We all know about accountability in advertising. It's what we at MOB Media have been preaching for years. But we should continue to evaluate all our ad campaigns on the WHY of Direct Response

The old days of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks should be over, yet we need to remind our clients and ourselves of this when we begin to create marketing and advertising campaigns. It's easy to slip back into, "well, how about we do this or this", without truly evaluating the potential for results. Now let's not assume we are completely devoid of tossing spaghetti against the wall! Often times, to move the needle, you have to test something for the first time. You have to be a leader, not a follower. But that testing should be based as much as possible on why would someone want this? Why would they use medium A to get to product B?

That's where the ad serving, CORE tracking, Veil Encoding, lead validating, web analytics and more come in. You have a history, let's use it! My god, what about your web site? Do you have any idea how much information you can glean from your past visitors? The question is, did anyone bother to review the logs for common search terms? How about most pages visited? Time spent? The question keeps haunting me like bad tomato sauce....why did they do what they did?

My simple and short blog today can be summarized thusly: When we can truly answer the why, we get closer to the buy!

Besides, I don't eat spaghetti anyhow, too many carbs! 



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The Ridiculous Quest for an Average Online Conversion Rate

by Paul 30. January 2009 11:47

It's not the size of the conversion, but the results that count.

"Not everything that can be counted - counts. Not everything that counts can be counted" - Albert Einstein.

A few weeks ago a buddy of mine (and former employee of MOB Media) called me up to ask a question that I get asked all the time. "What's an average conversion rate for online", he asks. He might as well have asked me the basal metabolism rate of mammals. If you actually clicked through on this link you'll see that the quandary for answering that question is not unlike answering the conversion rate question. To sum both up, it all depends! Before you think I am about to break great new ground here and talk about the average conversion rates for email, search, display and SMO, forget about it. What I'm really going to talk about is how it truly doesn't matter. What matters are results and ROI and maybe ROAS.

First, I need to tell you why conversions are not the holy grail and why they vary and thus for "average-purposes" should be relegated to the scrap yard. My experience tells me that the average conversion rate for most publishers, clients, portals what have you is around 2.5%. There are studies out there that say around 2.8 or so, but those studies overreport Fortune 500 type sites. Why should that matter? Because you should be doing better if you have a site with brand awareness, a ton of equity, a big ad offline ad budget and working in the consumer space as well! There are just too many factors to consider when comparing average conversion rates:

1. Consumer or B-B?
2. Ad channels available
3. The offer
4. Awareness Quotient
5. Design and usability
6. Overall goals of the site
7. Defining a conversion!
8. Industry

It would be horrific if you just relied on the average conversion rate to judge your site. You would be comparing your site to an average rate taking in all industries and types. That's why ROI and ROAS (profitablity measures) are what you should be using in evaluating your site. By the way for a quick review on ROAS calculations which is almost too simple go to this site. But in the direct response world, we're all more concerned with ROI and that is easily defined by how you  define it. An internal ROI conversion rate is a known entity to you and its whole purpose is to achieve higher sales and profits based on a cost per lead or acquisition model.

Now, I will show you how using an average conversion rate in real life can be detrimental (let's use 3% avg conv. to make it easy math). MOB Media spent $10,000 monthly on banner display ads for a client and their average order size was $40. IF we had only driven 5000 people to the site and the average conversion rate applied, we would have lost that client money to the tune of $4000 in the red. Instead we converted at over twice the average conversion rate with a 6.7% conversion and made the company $3,400 that month (total gross sales of $13,400, do the math folks!).

Bottom line: conversions are a poor substitute for sales, profit and cost per acquisition/lead. You can have huge conversion rates and sales could suck. Use ROI as your metric, you'll go places!



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About the author

Paul Otis
As an avid enthusiast of both writing and media, Paul's focus for this blog will be on whatever strikes him at the time deadline approaches. He lives and breathes media with no real life beyond that, except of course his son and their pet Orangutan. His promise is to try to be educational and accessible without being too techy – which won’t be too difficult, because he’s not a hardcore tech kind of guy. Hope this helps you in your marketing and everyday life – enjoy!

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