There’s a headline in the latest issue of B2B, the ink-on-paper magazine devoted to business-to-business marketing, that caught my eye and brought me back to an old argument.
The headline: “When the going gets rough, branding or lead generation?”
For full attribution, the article is by Matthew Schwartz in the February 11 issue, and he makes a lot of sense to me. Now I’ve done a lot of lead generation programs, especially during the 1960’s and 70’s, and now I’m an evangelist for branding.
And from my point of view, lead generation can be a form of branding, and branding can be a great foundation for lead generation.
I’ve always believed you can perform both if you’re messaging is relevant to your prospects and customers. The article didn’t really vindicate this position. It’s tone was summed up in the final quote by Hayes Roth, CMO of Landor Associates, a major branding consultancy. He said, “You abandon the brand, you abandon your future.”
When I had my ad agency, I almost always advised my clients, B2B clients, to opt for benefit-oriented, prospect-pointed ads that asked for action. They were no-nonsense, product featured with a strong benefit headline, informative copy and a prominent logo and tagline. Then, either a coupon or a request to use the reader service for more information.
The ads were almost always a campaign with a similar look and tone. Their look in themselves built trust and recognition of the clients and their products. Even the direct mail campaigns we launched were brand-building as well as lead generating.
Neither function was diluted because of the dual role of the ads. We build for the future as well as for this quarter’s sales.
It can really be said, there’s no need to chose. Do both.