Here is a good example of a brand marketing gift: https://www.cnpatterns.org/
As with all brand marketing, of course there's a commercial purpose behind it, but there's also real generosity at play. That's what makes it a gift.
On the topic of brand marketing and gifts, here's a useful excerpt from a draft of a book I may or may not ever publish:
What Is Brand Marketing?
Brand marketing is art with a logo on it. Not the kind of art you'd find in a gallery. Instead, brand marketing is the kind of art that is a gift or a challenge to a specific culture.
A culture is a group of people with a shared identity. Seth Godin might call them a tribe.
We're going to look at brand marketing through the lens of tools and genre expectations. Like all art -- brand marketing is as much about the feel and nuance of how it's done as it is about specific objective qualities, so you may find my description of brand marketing less crisp and objective-sounding. This is a domain of subtleties, so bear with me.
What is brand marketing?
Especially for consultants like us, what the heck actually is brand marketing?
If you've ever been through an airport terminal -- at least here in the US -- you've certainly seen brand marketing from a big company like Accenture. You've seen those trying-really-hard-to-be-interesting posters.
The ones this guy is making fun of here:
Or if you watched TV at all in the 80's, you probably saw this campaign, from the US Army:
And most of us have seen the archetypical form of brand marketing, Superbowl commercials:
None of this stuff is what brand marketing for small consultancies looks like. But it is all art with a logo on it.
Brand marketing for small-size consultancies is also art with a logo on it. It is expensive relative to direct response marketing. It is potentially inefficient relative to direct response marketing. But it does not represent an expense on the scale of a Superbowl commercial. And -- critically -- brand marketing is not in tension with the expectations around expertise.
As with direct response marketing, brand marketing tends to make use of a certain set of tools. As a quick reminder, the tools of direct response marketing are: Clear calls to action, forms, gated content assets, low-priced product(s) as segmentation mechanism, events as a front-end to promoting something, email sequences, long-form sales copy, moneyback guarantees, testimonials, and engineered pricing.
Here are the tools of brand marketing:
Have any of these lodged in your memory?
- A remarkable TED talk.
- A commercial, some part of which became conversational currency used among your friends (the Budweiser Whassup? campaign comes to mind here -- and skimming the "In culture" section of the Wikipedia article on that campaign is fascinating and relevant).
- Something else you didn't pay for, but created memorable value for you.
This is how brand marketing functions as a gift. It gives more than it takes.
Direct response marketing "gifts" -- things like lead magnets and content upgrades and "free bonuses" bundled with info products -- are not given as freely. There's almost always the requirement of an email address in return, with the implication that you will be marketed to following providing your email address. Calling this arrangement a gift is pretty disingenuous.
Brand marketing, on the other hand, sometimes gives what could truly be thought of as gifts. Not always, of course. Some brand marketing efforts are not very good gifts. And some are just sloppy efforts at selling something under the guise of making a gift for the culture. But brand marketing generally trades in the currency of gifts.
In our world, that of the small consultant, brand marketing gifts can look like the following:
- A talk where you share generously with no expectation of getting business directly from the talk
- Something like Basecamp's free books
- Any book, in fact, where the ROI is dramatic
- A very good podcast series
- An email list like Corey Quinn's Last Week in AWS
A truly good gift is one we're delighted with because the giver combined their affection for us with creativity. This is true in brand marketing, and in life.
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More of that book draft if you want it: https://htmlpreview.github.io/?https://github.com/philipmorg/Marketing-For-Self-Made-Experts/blob/master/chapters/temp-Marketing-for-self-made-experts.html
Reminder: I'm running a workshop on point of view next month. It's online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 - April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here: /pmc-csw-point-of-view