Branded Videos vs. Direct Response Videos - 03/28/2016      

Bird vs. Magic.

Pepsi vs. Coke.

Some may even say Good vs. Evil…

Some battles are timeless classics.

That’s what many "creative” Madison Avenue-type advertisers and "used car salesman” direct response marketers have been embroiled in. (For the last 100+ years in fact.)

And they duke it out when it comes to their video marketing too.

You’ve probably faced the same decision before shooting a video of your own.

The decision about what’s more important: creating the warm and fuzzies around your brand- while possibly entertaining or emotionally moving the viewer- or, discussing the benefits of your products and services and asking for a sale?

Two different approaches. Two different marketing objectives.

One side concerned about the effects on their brand equity— the other about the returns on their video spend.

Both legitimate concerns. Both should be addressed (at one point or another) in a strategically integrated marketing approach.

But there IS a right answer to which is best for your own video marketing efforts. Let’s discuss it now, starting with…


Branded Video Advertising

Pop in an episode of Mad Men when you get a chance.

Wait ‘til you see Don Draper and the gang huddled around the boardroom table discussing strategy and unveiling mock-ups for their next campaign.

Welcome to your traditional "brand” advertising.

While the ultimate goal is (usually) to sell, the advertising isn’t created around the most persuasive sales argument. (Direct response copywriters groan in protest.)

Attempts at humor. Attempts at being clever. Attempts at nostalgia. And everything in between.

Not asking for the sale. No quantifiable way to judge the effectiveness of the creative.

In a way, they’re investments in customer goodwill. Hopes at conferring positive thoughts to the brand the next time the viewer sees the logo, or hears the name.

Indeed, Ryan Deiss put it well at Traffic & Conversion Summit in February: branding is like making a deposit into your customer’s "relational” bank account.

The idea is you need to make enough deposits in order to withdraw the money when you need it later.

And on the other side of the ledger…


Direct Response Video Advertising


Here, the creative is important, but it’s important for what it does for the bottom line.The natural antithesis to traditional "brand” advertising.

Image isn’t critical. Most direct response advertisers don’t care so much about what the viewers think about their brand; it’s about what they think about the sales argument presented— and if it’s strong enough to elicit a valuable action.

It’s not afraid to ask for the sale!

From a business point of view, you’d think direct response is the only way to go.

It’s measurable. The data you get is the judge on the advertising’s effectiveness. And this informs future efforts so you can zero in on the best promotional mix producing the best bottom line returns.

It’s a black and white numbers game. ROI is key.

Production value isn’t necessarily as important as it tends to be with the Branded efforts.

(The "ugly” vs. "clean” ad debate’s one for another time!)

And following Deiss’s analogy, a direct response piece is considered a withdrawal from the customer’s "relational” bank account.

You’re asking for money from the customer as opposed to instilling the positive feelings around a deposit.

Let’s be perfectly clear: asking for the sale is NOT a bad thing. But always do it and you’ll soon be running out of cash stored in your prospect’s bank account!


Which Video Marketing Strategy Is Best?

Ready for the answer? This should put the debate to bed for good now…

Both are best.

If you were hoping for a clear winner, sorry to disappoint. If there were a clear winner… the marketing world would look a whole lot different. (And one side or another would be out of jobs for good.)

As you likely know, marketing is entirely contextual. What does your prospect know? Where is your customer in the buyer’s journey? What media are you using? What product are you advertising?

These questions necessarily make it so that one answer doesn’t fit all!

So what’s a video marketer to do? There isn’t even a "best” answer for every scenario, every time.

Instead, take key strategic elements from each and inject them in your videos. You don’t need to do this for every video you make, but you can strike a delicate balance here that will satisfy the benefits of both approaches.


For Best Video Marketing Results:

Know your goals first. Clearly, your brand goals are different from your direct response goals. Usually, it’s driving impressions and brand recognition for the former, and generating valuable actions from a smaller but totally qualified group for the latter.

But knowing each is critical before shooting any footage… that’s why our CEO Sean Fay wrote an article for Response Magazine to help you do just that.

Its application to Direct Response Television spots is directly relevant to your online video. (And a big part of how Envision Response has created great results for clients through its unique Direct Branding process.)

Once you know your goals, use the appropriate elements of each strategy from the list below to help meet those targets:


Best of Branding Videos

  • Use your logo. Feature your logo either: a) throughout the whole video along the top or bottom of the screen so as not to obstruct the main picture, or b) at the beginning and end for reinforcement.
  • Use your creative trademarks. This means using consistent brand colors, fonts, slogans and other visual (or audio) cues that communicate your brand image.
  • Use on-brand representatives. This doesn’t only mean your on-camera talent! The voiceover you might use or supporting cast appearing in the video should be consistent with your brand’s values— Dodge’s Ram commercials are great examples of this (the rugged, no-nonsense, blue collar feel).


Best of Direct Response Videos

  • Use a tracking mechanism. Whether you’re generating new leads or asking for the sale right there, make sure you’re quantifying your results. A call-tracking number, promotional URL, or even a special discount "code” the viewer needs to input at checkout to redeem a promotion, are all examples of this.
  • Communicate a specific offer. This is what traditional DRTV advertisers do to a tee. There’s no doubt in the viewer’s mind about what’s on offer and what they need to do to get it. Simply: outline what the viewer will get, and what it’ll cost them to get it. It’s solid fundamental video advertising strategy.
  • Demonstrate your product/service. This is the classic "show don’t tell” power of persuasion. The viewer seeing your product in action is infinitely more influential to their decision-making than what you can say about it.
  • Inject elements of urgency. The best ways to do this are: providing a cut-off time to the offer; only producing a limited number of the product; increasing the offer price after a certain amount of time passes; providing extra bonuses to early action takers; and legitimately being the only one to offer the product.
  • Provide social proof. This is to demonstrate you and your product’s credibility. What’s the best social proof you can use? Video testimonials of your customers or clients are persuasive. If you publish written testimonials and include them in your footage, try to get the customer’s permission to include their full name and their city. Nothing’s more insincere when you sign off a review with "- Eric A.” Another tactic is using any certifications (BBB logo, FDA approval, Google certified agency, medical degree, even a "secure checkout” seal) you’ve earned to demonstrate credibility.
  • Add a risk reversal promise. Guarantee your product’s performance. Whether that’s over a 30- or 60-day money-back guarantee period, guaranteed delivery time, or promise of specific results, you provide the viewer with a reason to act because they know they won’t be stuck with a dud product. The onus is on you to ensure the product does what’s promised, and the viewer knows they have a legitimate "excuse” to return it if it does not. (An excellent way to increase your conversion rate!)


Tying It All Together


There are times to sell and times to be creative in projecting your brand values. But… with the right execution you can accomplish both these goals in your video.

Truly, there can’t be one "best” answer for your video marketing all the time. Too many withdrawals from the customer’s relational bank account, and there are no customers left. Only placing goodwill deposits in your customer’s account, and you’re never getting money back from them.

There will always be staunch defenders of each side for as long as there is advertising- and there is room for both as you’ve seen- but the question "which is best?” isn’t the right question to ask.

It should be: "Which elements of each best suit the goals of this particular video?”

When you use a smart mix to properly "balance” your customer’s account— you won’t go far wrong.

And you’ll realize the generic argument of branding vs. direct response isn’t a "best or worst,” "right or wrong” marketing decision for your videos.

Just remember to:

  1. Define and quantify your goals for each video.
  2. Choose the corresponding elements that achieve those goals from our helpful Branding and Direct Response lists above.

So, what do you think? Is a "mixed” approach best? Or is either brand or direct response advertising clearly a better play at all times for you?

What type of videos have brought your brand the best results? Let’s hash it out in the comments below!


Sean Fay



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