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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: Common Branding Mistakes

1 Jul, 2013 By: Timothy R. Hawthorne Response

Here are four valuable lessons that DRTV marketers can take away from the world’s largest, most successful brands.


As a DRTV marketer, everything you do makes a statement about your brand — even if your mainstay is traditional “have your credit card ready” DR advertising. Put your brand first and you effectively borrow a page from playbooks of the Coca-Colas, Apples and Wal-Marts of the world, to name just a few of the companies that have spent billions to build and protect their brands.

From the outside looking in, brand marketers have their acts together when it comes to packaging and marketing their products. They attract — and keep — millions of customers coming back for more, year after year, so how could their strategies be flawed? The reality is that a deep look into pretty much any branding strategy will reveal critical flaws that any marketer can learn from.

Here are four critical errors that brands make and how to avoid them:

  • Missing the Target. If a marketer can’t succinctly answer the question, “What is your target market?” the firm will quickly find itself struggling to cover a huge swath of the market. “If you’re targeting all women 18 and older,” writes corporate brander Brenda Bence in “The Top 10 Branding Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make,” “you can’t show that entire age group how your product will help them because, let’s face it, an 18-year old has different needs than a 50-year old.” Put your effort into gaining trust within a specific niche and then grow your brand strategy from there. In the direct response arena, for example, marketers use testing, market research, and other tools to hone their strategies before launching a campaign or introducing a new product.
  • Ignoring Customers’ Desires. This is a common faux pas in today’s business environment, where policies, rules and procedures related to brick-and-mortar, online, retail and mobile sales can quickly send a consumer off to your nearest competitor. Netflix put this mistake to the test in 2011 by developing Qwikster, its DVD-only service. It didn’t take long for the company to cancel the offering due to the customer confusion that would arise from having a separate, DVD-only offering. “Not only was the Qwikster name reminiscent of a defunct and outdated file sharing service from the early 2000s,” writes Alanna Francis in “Branding’s Cardinal Sins: 3 Common Mistakes to Avoid,” “but the service itself was not one for which Netflix’s customers had any need or desire.”
  • Shooting for Short-Term Rewards. Huge sales spikes are exciting, but they never sustain themselves. Rather than viewing your brand as a quick fix or focusing on short-term gains, give it time to cure and focus on long term goals. By allowing your brand the necessary time to develop and mature, you’ll not only wind up with a better offering, but you’ll also be cultivating a loyal, trusting customer base that knows you’re in it for the long haul. Traditional brands that incorporate DRTV into their advertising portfolios, for example, know that they probably don’t have the next Tae Bo on their hands. Instead they remain focused on the long-term results that DRTV provides, such as higher Web sales, retail lift and improved brand awareness.
  • Forgetting to be Social. Before the Internet became a sounding board for anyone who had a keyboard, it was easier for a brand to move forward blindly without paying much attention to customer feedback. Those days are long gone. Using the Web as their platforms, your customers are talking to anyone and everyone about the experiences they’ve had with your products and services. Reputation management is so important that many brands have full-time social media managers assigned to the task. Using Twitter searches, search engine alerts and other tools, you can quickly respond to any issues before they turn into debacles.

Branding isn’t easy for any company. Companies of all sizes and across all industries struggle daily with how to package their goods in a meaningful, lasting way. By avoiding the four mistakes outlined in this article and following the tips laid out for each, DRTV marketers can position their own brands for long-term success and get a leg up on competitors that are struggling with these issues. ■


About the Author: Timothy R. Hawthorne


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