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Surround them with brand

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Imagine if you could spend a fraction of what the largest companies spend on their marketing campaigns yet still create as much exposure to your target market. It's possible with a method I call "immersion branding."

Immersion branding is geographically targeting your market using an integrated marketing campaign. Particularly effective for companies with a limited marketing budget, immersion branding presents a unique opportunity to round out the marketing strategy of companies that are familiar with a defined target market.

Immersion branding can give a great return on your marketing investment by focusing directly on prospects-where they live, work, shop and play. Each marketing dollar spent is laser-focused on reaching qualified prospects with a consistent brand message. Here's an example:

Say you are selling office furniture to midsize companies in metropolitan areas. After some research, you find that several cities have geographically concentrated areas of potential customers. In one city, for example, there are three large office buildings in one area that house 150 qualified prospects. You know from your existing client base that your customers typically drive their cars to work, stay fit and drink coffee. With this information, you are equipped to hammer your message home. But first, you must understand two truths in branding:

People buy brands they recognize. People won't recognize a brand until they've been exposed to it 27 times.

No wonder cold calls hardly ever work. Convincing your prospect that your office furniture is the best takes more than one call or one ad. To really get through to your market you must have a compelling and consistent brand message that's communicated using a variety of means.

Using our example, we would assemble an immersion branding initiative that looks something like this:

Lease a billboard at the highway exit near the three office buildings.

Buy space on cup sleeves at the coffee shops in the lobbies of the three buildings.

Sponsor half-price lunch coupons with a local deli for workers in those three buildings.

Buy ad space on the treadmill screens at the fitness club in each of the three buildings.

Send a mail piece to the company decision-makers in each of the buildings.

Follow up with a timely phone call that relates to the direct mail.

Assuming each member of the target market is exposed to just three of these messages a day, it will take nine working days (27 exposures) before your brand registers. Another few weeks, and your brand will be as recognizable to your target market as the biggest brands are to the masses.

Ed King is president and resident branding expert of WOWappeal Inc., Atlanta. He can be reached at ed@wowappeal.com.

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