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The Danger of Using The Web for Branding

Traditional advertising grew out of the old distribution model. Companies made their product, sold it to stores where people buy the product, and those stores sold it to the consumer. This worked for everything from toothbrushes to televisions. Then these huge companies wanted to increase sales of their product.

Since all of the competition is right on the shelf, they needed to differentiate themselves from the other products.

One way was price: sell the lowest price product. But the better way, and a longer term solution, was branding. So big companies began to buy advertising in print, TV, radio and billboards to get the word out about their toothbrush or television.

Still today they use carefully selected images, text and audio to familiarize you (consciously or subconsciously) with their brand of product. These ads don’t sell to you directly. Ad agencies use them to prime you to feel a connection with their brand when the time comes to make a buying decision.

Then the internet came along. The traditional approach works in some cases, yet fails miserably in others. “What an exciting new medium!” ad agencies thought.

“Now we can have consumers engage our brand from anywhere.”

This works well for some companies. For products you would only buy in a store, like

  • Food
  • Household items
  • Personal care products

This makes sense. Since the only real distribution point is the point of sale at a retailer, setting up an “interactive” online experience is a smart, fun way to communicate your brand. And since it doesn’t make much sense to buy a pack of candy or a toothbrush online, this distribution model is unaffected by the internet.

However, if you sell anything other than a low-priced commodity, you had better be selling it online.

Why would you set up a site dedicated to “engage” your prospective audience for flat-screen TV’s when you could be selling to them directly? It’s redundant and wasteful to build brand through online media (like dedicated websites for an ad campaign) for products that can be sold on the internet.

1. Need TV 1. Need TV
2. Go to TV store 2. Research TVs online
3. Choose a TV from the selection 3. Pick best TV from all available
4. Take TV home 4. Buy TV online

Consumers are smart now. They know that all the information they need will be available online.

So they’ll go there to find it. Don’t waste your web presence building brand aimed toward a point of sale that doesn’t exist anymore. Focus instead on converting the visitors you have into happy, paying customers.

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