In the realm of marketing, understanding the distinction between branding and advertising is essential. Today, I’ll share my take on this topic, drawing inspiration from Seth Godin’s insights while tailoring it for businesses, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

 Advertising: Measurable Marketing
Advertising is the quantifiable side of marketing. It involves spending resources with the expectation of measurable returns. For example, when we invest in Facebook ads, we can precisely track the money spent and the money generated. The same goes for hiring Business Development Managers (BDMs) or investing in SEO, where tools like GA4 allow us to attribute customer revenue to organic search.
Branding: A Different Approach
On the other hand, branding operates on a larger scale, typically associated with industry giants like Coca-Cola and Nike. These corporate giants spend vast sums on brand-building campaigns, often with less certainty about immediate customer acquisition.
Small businesses, however, face budget constraints that limit extravagant branding endeavors. Consider golf companies that sponsor professional players. The cost is passed on to consumers, impacting the price of products like golf drivers. This illustrates the challenge smaller businesses face when attempting extensive branding.
For SMEs with turnovers under ¬£10 million, it’s advisable to allocate approximately 95% of your marketing budget to advertising.
Investing in Branding for SMEs
Nonetheless, branding is not to be neglected. SMEs can focus on building their brand over time through non-monetary investments. This means refining how your company appears to customers. Branding for SMEs encompasses various aspects, such as product packaging, attire, communication style, and customer service. Actions like wearing shoe covers in a customer’s home, maintaining professionalism, and ensuring cleanliness contribute to building a positive brand image.
Consider supporting local kids’ sports teams, a gesture that fosters brand loyalty rather than immediate customer acquisition.
However, branding remains somewhat subjective and depends on the business owner’s preferences.
To measure the impact of branding for SMEs, consider conducting customer experience surveys, monitoring referrals, and observing repeat customer patterns. These are indirect but valuable indicators of your brand’s strength.
For SMEs, branding should primarily focus on retaining existing customers rather than acquiring new ones. Achieving this usually doesn’t require significant financial investments but relies on time, training, and system improvements.
The Personal Branding Dilemma
The realm of personal branding presents another layer to this discussion. While outliers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Stephen Bartlett have built strong personal brands, their stories are often exceptions. For the average business owner, relating to these exceptional cases can be challenging.
Personal branding is not the primary solution for filling the top of your sales funnel for SMEs. It may not justify the investment.
However, investing time in your personal brand and crafting marketing materials that tell your story and explain your motivations can enhance your sales process and customer retention.
In summary
– For SMEs, allocate about 95% of your budget to measurable advertising.
– Invest time in enhancing your brand to improve customer retention and streamline your sales process.
– If you want to build a personal brand, do so alongside advertising efforts to support conversion rates and customer loyalty.
Optimising your marketing strategy involves finding the right balance between advertising and branding, tailored to your business’s unique needs and constraints.