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Branding Leads to Direct Response

Branding Leads to Direct Response Jason Burnham
The guiding principles marketers have used for years to deploy direct response and branding initiatives is about to be turned upside down; primarily because we have been using the wrong metrics to determine marketing success. Direct response programs are typically driven by low cost / low frequency / less targeted media with strong, incented calls-to-action, specific to the action they want a consumer to take right now. Brand building initiatives are typically driven by contextually relevant media using high impact creative executions that solicit an emotional reaction about the product or brand.

Maintaining high frequency of messaging is perceived by marketers as staying top-of-mind, popular, and reputable, so that when a person is ready to purchase a particular product, it is their brand they turn to. While we recognize every campaign is different and there could be a combination of these tactics for both, generally these are the current practices most marketers apply for direct response or branding campaigns.

Unfortunately, it’s been the wrong approach all along. In order to build scale, at the same time increasing marketing performance and business growth, marketers must rethink their approach. Current practices are no longer efficient and will require marketers to adopt new philosophies. We now have greater insight into what actually motivates consumers to behave a certain way, which is driven by thinking style.

When we map different media attributes within the MindTime framework, the practices currently in-use do not apply. For example, Future Thinkers tend to be impulsive and will be more responsive to strong, incented calls-to-action, but will require higher frequency of messaging before taking action, as they tend to be very fickle. But Past Thinkers will be resistant, perhaps to avoid risk, due to skepticism, lack of brand credibility, or not enough information to make an informed decision.

Although, Past Thinkers don’t require high levels of frequency and will be more inclined to take immediate action if all of the appropriate information is presented to them. Future Thinkers won’t require the same amount or even the same type of information to make a decision as Past Thinkers. And Present Thinkers will be more attracted to popular and reputable brands but will plan their purchase according to their specific needs.

Ultimately, the stronger the brand is, the more likely it is to yield a higher response. This approach completely contradicts the practices we have all been using. But, I guess that’s part of learning and evolving. We now have a universal framework for understanding people and their behavior. This is going-the-extra-mile to really comprehend how people approach new decisions, and not by inference about the perceived qualities of a manufactured graphic segment or behavioral profile, but by direct measurement of individuals based on their beliefs, motivations, and how they make decisions.

As web sites and their content is being planned and developed it will require you to understand what thinking style you are catering to in order to maximize the user experience and provide potential customers with the necessary information required to swiftly move them from consideration to action. Because each thinking style requires different types of information and in different formats, dynamic web content that is delivered based on a person’s thinking style is most powerful. If development budgets and resources are limited, a design and layout that targets the largest thinking style composition, combined with content that is required by the outlying thinking styles, will still create greater efficiencies.

Different words and phrases will resonate with different thinking styles in different ways. Therefore, even selecting specific verbs, nouns, and adjectives for creative copy, is imperative in order to impact consumer perception in a positive way. As the creative strategy is being developed, it is necessary to assure messaging and images used will resonate with the thinking style you are looking to target. The greatest amount of waste can occur from not having a strong creative strategy, since a substantial amount of the marketing budget is allocated to creative development and the media delivery. Creative executions that speak to the needs and motivations of each thinking style makes the difference between moving prospects through the purchase funnel or experiencing high levels of attrition.

A picture says a thousand words. Therefore, the images used are just as important, if not more important than the copy you use. If a picture does say a thousand words, than you should use images that resonate with the thinking style you are speaking to, in combination with the copy to support it. Creative should be designed and targeted based on thinking styles to maximize impact, minimize waste, and close the sale!

Given that web site content and creative design cater to different thinking styles, this would also hold true for web sites, television programs, and print publications you would advertise in. Yes, media consumption habits are driven by thinking style. As a result, where you advertise, and the types of creative messaging and formats used, should be optimized based on the thinking style you are marketing to. Depending on the content categories you advertise within and which target audience you are reaching; the media providers you select as part of a media campaign should also be reviewed and planned against the target audiences’ thinking style.

Knowing a target group’s thinking style can have a dramatic impact on local, international, and social marketing initiatives. People tend to congregate and engage with those who share similar thinking styles, as it is most comfortable for them. Because thinking style is the force that drives our behavior, it is only natural that those with similar beliefs, interests, professions, areas of expertise, etc. will share a similar thinking style. Therefore, it is necessary that you communicate to these societies and sub-segments in a way that is comforting and acceptable. Your awareness of people's thinking styles gives you revolutionary insight into what captures their attention. When you can foresee what drives their needs and decision-making process, you gain the power to more effectively connect with people at all levels of engagement.

Jason Burnham thinks systemically about the impact business has on society. He has dedicated his career to helping his clients deliver triple bottom-line (economic, social, and environmental) results. Burnham’s professional purpose is to...

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