Branding vs. Call-to-Action – Why good advertising campaigns have both

Today only…80% off! Entire store must go! How many times have we seen these types of signs in the mall, on the street, in our mailbox or the Sunday paper? They are effective and they bring people into the store. Last week I talked about being consistently present throughout the year in regards to advertising. You can’t run a special sale every week. Well, you can, but you likely would not be able to sustain the low margin returns from doing so. That’s the big difference between branding and call-to-action within your advertising. Branding your name, your company name or your face is what keeps you top of mind.

Think about the majority of McDonald’s commercials that you see. Very few are for specific products at a special price. Most of them are simply reminding you to come into the store. Do the same thing with your business. When you have a few mediums working simultaneously, you should be branding yourself first. Then, at peak times of the year, you may change the focus to prompt the “call now” reasoning. Call-to-action ads generally highlight a specific product or a reduction in pricing or even the reminder to reserve your desired purchase now. I’ll use jewelry as an example. Jewelry stores need to brand themselves all year long, but they also have many peak times for call-to-action like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day.

The key is to be proactive and not reactive, as is the goal with most things in business and in life. Look at your plan every quarter and search for those peak times when you will be offering a special deal. Begin announcing that special at least three weeks prior. Many business owners who are bogged down in the day-to-day become reactive and realize that next week is a peak time. The first thought is to go buy a new medium right now. However, you’re not reaching the public with any anticipation and it may flop. Advertising is a long-term process that needs attention.

So, if call-to-action brings people through the door when you want them, why brand yourself? This is very important because if the public only sees you when you’re running a special, then they will only visit you during those times and wait for you to give them a reason to purchase. The ongoing branding should talk about reasons why a customer should choose you over others in your arena during non-peak times. Part of that branding is through advertising and the rest is through marketing and being visible in your community (see my previous articles that talk about that). If you only reach out via call-to-action at peak times, it will only bring you one type of customer. See next week’s column when I talk about A,B and C customers and how you can plan to attract them all when you need them.

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