The Dance of Brand vs. Direct Marketing


When building a marketing machine it’s a dance between the two.


In marketing, it’s a common mistake to mix these two together. A good way to waste time, resources, and your mind.



Is it working?

This is the question I ask every day, every ad, every post. In my profession, I need to be able to come to terms with the answer. And sometimes I have to say “I Don't Know”. Not a fun answer when my clients are shelling out hard-earned money, paying for video ads. Marketing is not for the timid or faint of heart. You need to be able to stay the course, know your clients, and trust your product is something people really want or need. (Remember the “fear of Failure) I know your pain! Online marketing is a new way of life for modern businesses, getting to the surface has been a challenge. It helps to understand the nuances. Brand vs. Direct marketing is a good place to start.


Direct Marketing

In some ways, this is the simplest marketing. You have a product or service and you tell people how to buy it. Your photos need to be compelling, your language clear and the path to purchase direct. Then you add up the cost of your ad and what you made in purchases and subtract. YOU KNOW if you succeeded or failed. Easy right?

Unless having:

A new product that you need to explain.

Your price points are higher than your competitors.

In between seasons or cycles.

Building a brand.

Direct marketing is a money now with longevity hanging in the balance. Your choice.


Brand Marketing

And here’s where simplicity ends and where every business that wants to be more than just a click on Amazon needs to invest. My business included. I feel your pain. You won’t know if it’s working until it does.

Start with what do you want to say and who do you need to say it to.

Next, pick a path.

  • Do you want to inform people?

  • Introduce a new concept?

  • Show your value?

  • Just get your brand seen and heard?

And last, prepare yourself for a long ride. Everything you do needs to be consistent and sustainable. This will not happen overnight.

The success story of Warby and Parker is an exercise in direct marketing. Take Red Bull who went from a soft drink seller (direct) to a content creation (brand) Icon that sells energy drinks on the side.

Direct into brand marketing. Red Bull wrote the book on the new business model for online marketing that every business school now teaches. Brand is a long-haul investment that could pay tenfold. Direct is cash-rich now, A Blend divides your resources but may be what floats your boat. Choose wisely


Measuring Success


Big Water’s success stories? We have a few and each and everyone is different.

My favorites:

A local beach resort that had done its due diligence in building a strong email list. When deep in the throws of COVID and his business at risk we emailed his clients a video that spelled out the proper steps to take a Tahoe Vacation. In 10 days the resort was filled. With a brand in place, we identified the problem, people wanted to come, they just did not know what or how to do it. Created a solution, we laid out in video exactly what to do and expect. Emailed his client list and his people came and had a COVID safe vacation. The power of a brand - HIS - people came.

A local icon summer business needed a bump in traffic. By running direct marketing ads at specific times on local social media we filled the boat. A clear message, on a platform their clients frequent, led a direct path to purchase and won the day. We raised their 2021 numbers by 41%.

My own personal BWCI success? One day recently on a chairlift and talking to random people on the chair with me. I do this a lot as a business I get such incredible insight by asking questions and listening. One such conversation with a young local (maybe 19) Actually knew the name Big Water and what we do. SCORE!



My long time experience has taught me my job is to be a creative problem solver and then if you set a goal and build a plan you will find the tools necessary to lay a path to every businesses’ great big goal, the shining star of success.

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