A brand is a trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer. Branding is the process of raising awareness of the advantages of a particular trademark, and building strong emotional ties between customers and products.
The advantage in building a brand is that people ask by name for what you sell. The disadvantage is that they’ll buy when they want to, rather than when you wish to sell.
But if your prospective customer feels no discomfort, she will feel no incentive to buy. Not your brand. Not anyone else’s.
Truthfully, the vast majority of people at any given point in time feel no pain. They have no interest in what you offer. They consider your ads a nuisance. They wish your ads would go away. And that assumes that you managed to catch their attention at all. And yet, effective branding happens at Pain Stage 1.
Branding strategy targets people who are not yet aware of discomfort.
Why would you advertise to those non-prospects?
To increase the reach of your advertising.
The broad, all-inclusive lack of focus in the message, “eliminate your pain by purchasing our product/service,” doesn’t allow the targeting of specific audiences. Ads for pregnancy tests, for instance, will be exposed to retired men as well as to women of childbearing years. Ads for weight loss products will reach thin people. Ads for cars will become familiar to children.
At Stage 1, your message reaches “everyone,” and waits for some of them to experience a triggering event. People’s status occasionally changes, and for some, an event will occur which places them firmly in the market. Some women of childbearing age will need a pregnancy test. Some thin people will overindulge over the holidays. Children will grow up, and some of them will purchase automobiles.
Combined with top-of-mind awareness caused by your advertising, this new perception of need will lead them to look you up in the white pages, rather than looking up your business category in the Yellow Pages.
Typical Stage 1 messaging is “We Want Your Business.”
A much more effective Stage 1 message is “If you ever need us, we’re here for you.”
My favorite example of a successful Stage 1 advertising campaign is Roto Rooter. For the last five decades their message has been “When your drain clogs, we’re a phone call away.”
The company’s Public Relations Manager tells me they refer to their campaigns as “grudge marketing.” Paul Abrams describes this mindset as, “We’re the company people call when they have drain problems. People know us by name, but they resent being forced to call.”
The public knows Roto Rooter’s name because of the consistency with which the company’s advertising exposes the mythical “everyone.” Roto Rooter knows eventually some drains will clog.
Here’s a sample Roto Rooter ad from 1968.