21 years after the advent of the internet, the ways to communicate with potential customers multiply every day. In the business we call this channel diffusion. In real terms it means that businesses and organizations are faced with tough decisions on where to invest their money. How will you know whether you're successful?

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Marketing and advertising. These two words often cause winces and groans. Both from consumers and businesses.

Consumers groan because they’re tired of being sold things they don’t want. They want to spend their money on things that they really want.

For businesses and companies, the groans come for other reasons, usually because they’ve had experience with agencies.

Ad agencies are flashy. They walk in wearing suits and ties; stylish, urban, successful. Once they finish their pitch the justification for going with their idea is simple. “Trust us, we’re the experts.” Problem is, your money is precious. Can you just let someone spend it without any guarantee that you’ll get something back?

Direct marketing agencies come at you with a different tactic. Every channel has an ROI they say. Otherwise we won’t recommend it. No doubt this approach is solid if you want to justify your spending. But it also has its shortcomings: how does someone in 2015 build a marketing plan without a social component? Their justification: “If you can’t prove direct revenue is coming from Facebook then don’t focus on Facebook.”

Both of these approaches are flawed. They both stem from a bygone era – when television, radio and mail reigned supreme. Back then, ad agencies could ensure their flashy campaigns would create results because they could guarantee your audience would be on tv and radio. Direct marketers could guarantee an ROI on everything they did because they had only one channel to track: the mail.

The world has changed.

Diffusion Doesn’t Have To Equal Confusion

21 years after the advent of the internet, the ways to communicate with potential customers multiply every day. We call this channel diffusion. In real terms it means that businesses and organizations are faced with tough decisions on where to invest their money. How will you know whether you’re successful?

So much choice can lead to paralysis. Paralysis driven by confusion over where to invest hard-earned money. Given a little time, this paralysis can lead to panic. Maybe you’re thinking:

“I need to find people who care about my products and services. I have no idea where to start. What am I going to do?”

At A Brave New, we feel like we were made for this challenge. You see, all three of us cut our teeth in direct marketing. We know how to measure success. But we also came of age in the internet era. We’re comfortable navigating all of the ambiguity that comes with that. Hell, Jacob was programming websites when he was barely out of junior high. That’s why finding a middle road between advertising and direct marketing is one of our core values, along with working well with others and taking a problem-centric approach.

When we work with a business to help them find new customers we have a relatively simple, step by step approach:

  1. Clarify the unique value the business or organization provides to the world.
  2. Figure out which channels like-minded people are already using.
  3. Design a comprehensive plan that emphasizes these channels but doesn’t discount the others.
  4. Define how we’ll measure success. Like good direct marketers we’ll look for places we can assign direct ROI. In other places, we’ll be comfortable with softer non-revenue metrics. In others, we accept that their success is only told in the end results.
  5. Conduct results analysis that looks at both individual efforts but also the overall campaign performance, understanding direct ROI will never be assigned to every effort.

This process helps dispel the confusion. It also clarifies what success looks like. It couldn’t get much better than that!

Don’t Sell, Give People What They Want

One of the biggest mistakes people make in this brave new world (yes, I just did that) is thinking that if they shout louder they will be more successful. It doesn’t work that way.

Your job as a business or a nonprofit is to provide real value to the world. If what you offer is truly valuable, and you can find people who recognize that value, you’ll have no problem growing your business or getting more donations.

Josh Dougherty Written by on 01.27.2015
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