top of page
Image by NASA

Marketing Academy.

How to build a strong brand by getting sales

Direct response performance anxiety

The deadly question that every entrepreneur and manager asks themselves when they think about marketing:

Should I focus on building the brand (long-term strategy) or prefer only the immediate activation of sales (short-term strategy)?

What should we focus on between these two foci? And in what proportion? Betting everything on a single strategy or on a mix of short and long term?

To listen to the current marketing gurus who are particularly popular among small companies and professionals, the answer would seem obvious:

You need to focus only on sales. Now, now, the rest doesn't matter! Working on the brand is useless and stupid, typical of incompetent academics full of big words! You have to do “Direct response marketing and that's it!”

But is it really like this?

Obviously not. As obvious as it may seem, many people believe in these easy and unscientific recipes. And it's a shame.

How science sees it

Fortunately, marketing is a soft science, so there is a substantial literature on these and other matters. Speaking of short and long-term strategies, you can for example enjoy a substantial research (, based on the examination ofthousands of campaignsover many years (more than 15 years and 15,000 studies), which allowed the researchers Field and Binet to conclude on what the ideal approach is, but also where they stand directing marketers.

Let's start with the (sad) confirmations.

Marketers, not only in Italy, are increasingly focused on the short term. They spend money on immediate activation, rather than long-term brand building.

Field and Binet demonstrate, however, that in the long term this short-term approach is, to say the least, counterproductive. Because it attenuates the overall impact of the marketing mix. Too much time spent picking low-hanging fruit (instant sales activation) means less time growing the tree (brand building). But by focusing too much on harvesting, the tree eventually stops growing.

Standing out in the noise, the purpose of branding

The magical 60/40 formula

So what is the ideal budget breakdown discovered in this research?

60 vs 40.

  • 60% of resources and man-hours in marketing must be invested in building the brand.

  • 40% for sales activation.

And how should the two strategies intersect?

Let's start with the basics to get to the answer. As we know, brand building dominates long-term growth and involves the creation of memory structures that push consumers to specifically want to choose a certain brand rather than a competitor. Brand building also decreases price sensitivity. Therefore, over time, it has a strong impact on profitability. Sales activation instead leads to short-term sales increases and is activated with more or less high-quality behavioral suggestions that push consumers to want to buy now. Promotional messages, seasonal or other occasion-related messages and minor news about new products are the main messages used. They are focused on a simple answer. They have little effect on growth, pricing power and profitability.

We insist on the phrase "more or less quality", because if it is true that the "short-term" strategy can lead to sales peaks in the short term, this depends on how it is implemented and on the mastery of the tools.In fact, more and more often we see amateur marketers and improvised trainers who limit themselves to applying the magic beans for inexperienced people that we call "Cialdinate", i.e. the haphazard implementation of the techniques of social proof, the foot in the door, the heuristic of scarcity and the urgency.Evidently, these techniques give mediocre results, and always on low-spending targets. Which is paradoxical, given that these people define themselves as "high ticketing" experts.

In synergy, depending on the markets

But branding and activation must work in synergy, enhancing each other. Brand communication creates lasting memories that increase the underlying level of demand, and sales activation activates these memories, efficiently converting them into sales. The net result is a sustainable revenue stream with high margins and high ROMI (return-on-marketing-investment). This optimal synergy also changes depending on market variables and majority use in the communication channel. For example, in the online/offline division the balance follows:

  • Offline brands: 55% branding, 45% short-term sales

  • Online brands: 74% branding, 26% short-term sales

Online you can afford the luxury of doing "more branding" than offline, because the medium itself makes activating sales easier. Which, if you think about it, is obvious: on the internet you are always one click away from purchasing.

Because sales activation is relatively easy for very large brands, they don't need to allocate such a large portion of their budget to it. As market share increases, the optimal balance shifts even more in favor of brand building. Hence the little-understood effect whereby big brands "seem" to invest everything in brand communication. In truth, they are simply weighing investments better, adapting them to brand equity. Finally, when the market category is in a declining phase of general interest from customers, there should be a slight shift towards sales activation compared to the ideal mix: in this phase it is in fact more complicated to build strong emotional memories towards a brand, lacking the fertilizer of passion for the category in which it operates.

Online? The proportion changes


You shouldn't be. It's just a matter of "understanding" these dynamics in depth without limiting ourselves to magical recipes that are too good to be true. It's about doing the true job of a marketer without looking for subterfuge and shortcuts.

Because, as Field and Binet teach us, they are suicidal.

For this reason, unlike the gurus who say a course is enough to learn marketing, we fight to raise people's awareness of these dynamics, making them understand the complexity of the subject with examples, market and research such as those reported in this article. Publications in which we find ourselves and whose veracity we confirm, seeing the effects and results every day with our customers.

This is why relying on a marketing agency like Deep Marketing is fundamental to stay on the market for as long as possible, increasing profits, margins and returns on investments at the same time. This way you avoid applying an incorrect mix and making potentially fatal mistakes.


bottom of page