Brand Awareness Marketing VS Direct Response Marketing

Which One Is Better For You And Your Business?


One of the most expensive marketing activities of all time is hosting the Olympics.

While being nominated and then selected as a host country for the Olympic games is an international honor it also comes with an almost unbelievably high price tag.

In fact, hosting the Olympics is so expensive that the countries or cities that host the event often end up with a crippling level of debt.

So just how expensive are the Olympics to host?

The 2008 summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China cost a staggering $40 billion.

And the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia cost $50 billion.

That’s billion. With a “b”.

The reason it costs so much is that the money is spent on building up various infrastructure projects and a ton of other related costs in order to create the environment for hosting the Olympic Games.

Now the downside is obvious. Stadiums, facilities, often entire “Olympic Villages” that are built for an international event that once over, is usually left unused and decaying only a few years after the event.

On the upside though, you can’t ignore the power of the “Olympic Effect” which leads to more trade and business being done for the host country following the Olympics. They’re given a worldwide stage to showcase their countries best qualities and cultural attractions.

Not to mention the prestige, status, and attention that the host country also benefits from during the games.


Originally budgeted at $12 billion, major cost overruns caused this number to balloon to a staggering $51 billion (Photo of Sochi Olympic Park by Arne Müseler)

But are these benefits worth the costs?

Most would say, probably not.

And this has led to many countries to question whether hosting the games is a good investment, or not.

Like Norway for example.

Norway recently withdrew its bid for the 2022 Winter Games due to concerns that the cost would be too large and a lack of public support. – Martin Yim

Because while the Olympic games used to be hosted for a more reasonable number in the millions, these costs have skyrocketed over the past few decades to the billion dollar levels we now see. 

And many countries are starting to think that maybe there’s a better use for that money…

After all:

  • What is the value of just getting your name out there?
  • How much are status, prestige, and attention really worth?
  • And is there a better, and more profitable alternative? 

And the answer lies in understanding the differences between Brand Awareness Marketing and Direct Response Marketing.

So let’s unpack those both now.

When it comes to marketing your business, there’s no shortage of strategy or tactics or tools to use.

You can use:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Blogging
  • SEO
  • Direct mail
  • Advertising

You could even put up a billboard, banner, or do some sky writing.  The only limit is your imagination. 

But regardless of which tactic you decide to use, most tend to fall into one of two very different camps:

One of which is brand awareness marketing, and the other one is direct response marketing.

Now, when I first got involved in the marketing game over 10 years ago, I gravitated more towards the brand awareness marketing camp.

Their cry to arms is all about creating value, creating content, getting out there, getting in front of more people and staying top of mind among your target market.

Sounds good in theory. 

But it didn’t take long before the appeal of the direct response marketing camp started calling to me.

And I was hooked right from the start on creating effective and accountable direct response marketing campaigns that were designed to get action, and get action now.

But I soon realized that this approach also had its drawbacks.  

Which is why I now practice and preach the perfect combination of both.

But first, let me differentiate brand awareness marketing vs. direct response marketing.

Brand Awareness Marketing

For the context of this article, brand awareness marketing is going to include pretty much anything that doesn’t involve an immediate and direct CTA (call to action).

This is going to include most forms of content marketing, whether we’re talking about emails, podcasts, or putting out videos.

As well as organic (and even some paid social media posts) that are designed more to get people to consume your content, watch your videos, and engage with your brand – rather than to make a sale or collect a lead. 

Now, of course you should include a CTA (call to action) with every piece of content you put out there.

However, we’re not going to be tracking them as strictly as we would with  direct response marketing, because attribution becomes a little more difficult with brand awareness marketing.

For example, it’s hard to say that “this engagement” is what resulted in “this sale”

…or “this video view” is what caused a client to pick up the phone or send you an email.

What brand awareness marketing is trying to do is reach more people, more often, create value for the marketplace and get your content in front of your target market.

Direct Response Marketing

Direct response marketing on the other hand, has that direct line (as closely as possible) to measuring where the click is related and directly attributable to the sale.

Or tracking and measuring how a specific video view related to a specific customer acquisition.

The direct response marketing world is where you hear marketers talk about “knowing your numbers”, and “mastering your metrics”.

And all the stuff that goes into it including watching your click-through rates, and your cost per click, and your cost per customer acquisition, and cost per lead, and all those other cost metrics.

With direct response marketing you need to make sure that you’re monitoring all your campaigns. This is especially important if you’re running advertising. 

Spending money on ads without knowing what's working is gambling.

So tracking is important. Measuring is important. And creating accountable marketing is important.

But a dangerous thing can happen when you start living full-time in the world of direct response marketing.

And that is tending to look at people and potential clients as just numbers. Or metrics on a spreadsheet. 

So, this is where my strategy has evolved. And merged to create a hybrid between brand awareness marketing and direct response marketing.

It’s designed to give maximum value to your clients and the market, while still being accountable and contributing to the bottom line.

Here’s an example of how this might work:

Brand Awareness Direct Response Hybrid Marketing

First, the foundation for all of your marketing should be based on compelling content.

Basically, creating marketing that matters, seeking to serve, prioritizing people over profits, and creating marketing that is so valuable your clients would miss it if it were gone.

Now, this can be in the form of a blog post, it can be videos, it can be a podcast, a lead magnet, a livestream, or any other kind of content.

The key is to remember that the goal is to deliver as much value as possible.

When you do this, you position yourself as an authority and an expert in your field. You build a tremendous amount of good will. And you set yourself apart from the masses who are just trying to “take” without ever giving anything back. 

But you can't build a business on good will alone. You need clients. Sales. And revenue. 

Which is why we also need to partner this content up with a little direct response marketing.

First, create a brand awareness campaign that delivers value. Something that speaks to your market and addresses their pains, problems, fears, and frustrations.

Help them. Inspire them. Lead them.

This isn’t a sales pitch. But don’t be shy about including a CTA (call to action) at the end to guide them to the next logical step in their journey.

Then, once someone has engaged with the message and metaphorically “raised their hand” signalling their interest, you follow this branding style content up with a direct response approach.

Now you can make a good, clear, strong and direct offer that shows them exactly how you can help them solve their problem.

This means you’re running your direct response marketing to people who already know, already like, and already trust you.

This allows you to get better results for far less money.

If you use a paid traffic platform and paid ads (like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, YouTube Ads, Google Ads, etc) to run the direct response marketing you can get crystal clear data on where the clicks and clients are coming from.

Here's how this looks when we put it into practice.

First, create a more brand awareness focused campaign by creating free content anywhere your ideal target market is present and active online.

This awareness can come from anywhere. Social media, podcasts, blogs, speaking, events, referrals, networking, anywhere.

Then, you create direct response marketing for the people who have interacted or engaged with your free content.

To create your direct response marketing you can use paid traffic platforms like YouTube ads or Facebook ads, or you can carry on the communication through your email list.

The key with your direct response marketing is in targeting only those who have already engaged; who already know, already like, and already trust you.

This, in turn, allows you to spend less and get better results.

In fact, by using and leveraging the strategy, I’ve been able to create campaigns for my clients that have generated upwards of 18,000% ROI (return on investment). 

And it’s all because we provide value first, create a connection, build a relationship, and then ask for the sale.

Not the other way around.

So, to wrap it up and bring it home:

You need brand awareness marketing, because people can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. And the more value and goodwill you create in the market the greater your income will be.

But at the same time you can’t ignore direct response marketing because you need clients, you need sales, and you need revenue if you want to stay in business.

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