Google and Facebook both attributed better-than-expected first quarter performances to brands moving money from more broad-based brand advertising to direct response.

At the start of this crisis I saw many a brand marketing academic along with several media agencies promote the idea that to continue to invest in building the brand for the long term was the right thing to do.

In fact, many marketing effectiveness experts were advising marketers to think long-term and invest in brand, this also includes infamous marketing academic Mark Ritson. 

Back in March 2020, marketing consultant Peter Field told Marketing Week: "The only sensible course for any advertiser who wants to maintain a presence through this recession – and if your business is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy you aren’t going to be able to do this – is to be putting money into long-term brand building because the role of that investment is for the recovery, not for now."

As a C-Suite Marketing guy I've burnt quite a lot of advertising dollars over the years. 

Getting a 'celebrity' to front your adverts used to be the epitome of how cool it is for your brand to be aligned & associated with such a BIG name, and of course how big your marketing budget was/is. 

Who remembers the Sly Stallone ads for 'Warburtons', or the Claude Van Damme adverts for 'Coors' and many others?

The one that sticks out for me (old school alert) was the guy 'Victor Kiam' whose famous phrase "I loved the product so much I bought the company". It seemed to work because, well, Victor came across as a genuine guy, and as for his product (Remington Shavers) his ringing endorsement seemed to hit home that the product was 'that good' we just had to believe him - after all, he did 'buy' the company didn't he?

All this was great, probably because we didn't know any better. Nostalgic of course but also something that belongs in the distant past when we had no choice but to be spoon fed what time we could watch our TV programs, and be bombarded with adverts from which we had no control over.

Then came the internet and the deluge of digital intrusions. 

But then came online social networks.

There is no one you can speak to who has ever been through a crisis like this. None of them will have experienced the type of cataclystic downturn in living memory that this crisis has delivered. 

The reality is that like the rest of us they are taking their best guess based on previous coal face experience and trying to apply the commercial logic around an unprecedented change in consumer behaviour.

In the 20th Century 'direct response' used to be one of the best ways to gauge and grow a connected tribe of consumers who related to your brand/product. 

Mail order companies have utilised 'direct response' TV in the form of infomercials for decades. Remember those CD and Wine clubs you would sign up to - yup good old direct response marketing. 

Today we see them for pre-packed, pre-cooked, or fresh food packages. We even see them as part of the ambulance chasing brigade of 'where there's a blame' etc.

This type of marketing taps into audiences who connect with the brand and offer and then consistently encouraged to make the 'call to action' extremely easy for the consumer to respond. 

"Phone this number, click here, ask for help, or as Sir Bob Geldof famously said during the 'Live Aid' concert in the 80's "Give us your F**@#*g money#.

It's no secret that many brands are looking to nurture and grow a more direct relationship with you and me, which is also a shift from the traditional distribution model they have worked with for many years.

Historically the supply chain has been made up of a number of layers, all in order to get you and me to part with our cash, and that funnel is about to get shorter, which could be great news for you and me, but disruptive to those companies and businesses that have set themselves up as a reseller of someone else's product. 

Supermarkets are a great example of a company who sells other companies brands, all manner of companies do this everyday, all around the world.

Fast forward to today when at no time in history have you and me been in more control of where, how, and what we watch our flavour of content. 

Technology has empowered us so much we can now consume as much content as we can eat, and all without those intrusive adverts. So, if you need to get your brand message across, and get heard above the barrage of noise we have come to know as 'the internet' what have we chosen to do?

We have elected with our pre Covid marketing budgets to seek out those cheeky millenials with their 'Instagram/Facebook' followers (how do they get zillions of followers?) and induce them to 'jack' their feeds with our product/service offer. WHY? 

Pre Covid this was the modern day equivalent of 'direct response' marketing.

The reality today is those 'influencers' are an expensive luxury just like that pre covid fraud riddled advertising budget you utilised.

Let’s look at how you could/should use ‘Social Media' as a highly effective program to drive brand attribution and response at the lowest cost, whilst creating reach and possibly become the most potent and authentic ‘influencer’ campaign EVER.

It’s called an internally aligned ‘Social Selling’ strategy and it's cost don't increase as your reach and engagement aspirations do on 'paid media'.

How can this be you might ask, what do you mean I don't have to pay for this?

Go with me, this is for example only.

Assumptions: - It requires effort!

Company has an average of 50 employees , includes ALL areas of the company, and I mean everyone.

Each employee has an average of 500+ connections on all social media.

You train and encourage them to write (subject matter) content, stories & conversations that reflect your company and brand (all in their own style) including all relevant keywords that are important to ‘why’ you do what you do.

Make sure they are NOT selling - influencers don't sell - they INFLUENCE!

{Scary shit eh}

Get them (including you and your board) to do that (consistently) twice a week each month for 6 months.

Your bit - {leadership required}

1st level influencer reach = 600,000

Imagine if they then interacted with comments, conversations and made new connections which would then grow that network even bigger?

Finally, make sure you have enough people to answer all the pre-qualified ‘inbound sales enquiries’.

The biggest ‘influencers’ of your brand should be it’s leadership team - FACT.