A data geek’s case for branding

Will the marketing pendulum reverse direction?

I’m a data geek. I got my start in direct response advertising, selling direct response postcards, print and directory ads. I worked at Catalog Age, which covered scintillating topics like square-inch analysis, mailing list response rates, paper and postal rates, inbound call centers with 800 numbers, and calculating ROI. Readers were direct response nerds like me. Totally uncool. Galaxies away from Madison Avenue, where TV spots and slick 4-color centerfolds were created… to build brand awareness. LOL.

eCommerce and digital marketing changed all that. Analytics and data science became hot skills.  Now, B2B marketing efforts are judged by ROI, conversions, engagements or myriad other measurements. It was as if we data geeks inherited the earth.

I’m certain many of us have had strange thoughts and dreams during this pandemic. One of mine was the thought that with so much focus on leads and sales funnels, we could be missing an essential step. The pendulum swung too far.

That got me thinking about the wisdom of a McGraw-Hill ad from way back that still resonates today, if you can get past the image of an old white guy and gender-inappropriate language. The ad is a series of statements that begin with “I don’t know…” You. Your company. Your product. Your reputation. And concludes with: “MORAL: Sales start before your salesman calls – with business publication advertising.”

McGraw-Hill ad: MORAL: Sales start before your salesman calls - with business publication advertising.

If history repeats itself, companies that market heavily through this economic downturn will increase market share. Why? Less noise means those still in the game will get the attention needed to build awareness and establish trust that your company is here now and will be in the future to support them once they buy.

The pendulum needs to come back to center. Now is the time to be bold. Now is the time to build your brand.