From Chasing Customers to Creating Customers

Posted on April 22, 2011 by Tony Uphoff

The last several years lead generation has been the driving force in online marketing. From basic click-through to registration based programs, the majority of web marketing has simply been direct marketing. We are starting to see online marketing shift into a new phase however. A shift that combines the efficiency of direct marketing with the power of brand preference marketing. This shift is being driven by several factors:

  1. Lost Brand Identity. By focusing almost exclusively on lead generation it's clear some companies have lost the power of brand. The decline of brand clarity and preference, takes away one the biggest advantages major brands have. Take a look at the recent market share drop at Pepsi as an example. The lack of brand awareness for newer or smaller brands makes it very difficult to stand out, gain traction and ultimately revenue growth and profits.
  2. Content Has Become Advertising. Marketers are developing content based marketing that contextually resonates with customers and prospects. This type of branded response marketing creates a strong two-way dialogue that can be sustained and adjusted as brand, customer and market dynamics change.
  3. Brand Scales. An unbranded lead is just that, unbranded. And like generic brands and goods they have limited value. A branded lead however, scales. It's like an introduction by a mutual, trusted friend versus a cold call to a prospect who has never heard of you.
  4. Installed Base Matters. People and organizations who have purchased in the past are the best prospects for future purchasing. This is most acutely true in business marketplaces like technology. The companies that buy the most technology are the ones that have already made a commitment to technology. Facebook wasn't a great prospect for expensive servers when it was an early stage company. Once they had a good sized installed base however, they became a very good prospect and now buy 1,500 servers a month on average. When dealing with an installed base customer, brand and the roadmap behind that brand matters. A lot.
The fusion of direct and brand marketing is enabling companies to shift from chasing customers to creating customers. Brand marketing and demand generation are being redefined in this new phase of online marketing. Perhaps this shift is a sign that online is maturing as a medium. Or perhaps we as marketers are.,

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