Making Brand Building Cost Effective

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PROVIDENCE, RI -- Ted Nelson is the first to admit that the basic message of his general session yesterday at the New England Mail Order Association's fall conference is nothing new: Brand marketing through traditional advertising and direct marketing mediums doesn't work as well as it used to in today's cluttered, high-tech society.

The news in the presentation by the principal of Mechanica Branding was about breaking out of the old paradigm by focusing on how to work with brand-building partners.

Nelson cited a handful of marketers who realized that the paradigm has shifted and found success through unconventional marketing, such as Starbucks, Virgin, eBay and Google. Advertising and direct marketing played no part in creating these brands, he stated. It was all done through word of mouth.

"There are more interesting tools out there to build your brands and a lot of innovative ways to interact with customers," Nelson said. To find them, it's important for a company and whomever it works with on brand building to keep three strategies in mind:

· Institutionalize unconventional thinking.

· Be flexible in figuring out how and where to engage prospects and customers.

· Create comprehensive brand experiences.

The result will be a more consultative relationship with no predetermined infrastructure. From there, it's easy to look at building a brand in terms of solving problems instead of delivering specific marketing elements.

These strategies also prevent companies from falling into the trap of trying to boil a brand down to a one-sentence description.

"Don't be afraid of complexity," said Nelson, who's a fan of doing brand blueprints that incorporate the many ways that a brand can or does touch consumers.

By engaging brand partners in a different way, it is possible to put the cost effectiveness back into marketing, he said.

In other NEMOA news, the association's board voted in 17 new members yesterday: Colonial Williamsburg Catalog, DharmaCrafts, Edmund Scientific, Emergency Film Group, Emerson Ecologics Inc., Home Bistro Foods Inc., Jamestown Distributors, KripaluCenter for Yoga & Health, L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates, Nueske's, Vantage Travel, Global Response, Blexrud Direct, Lisa Hahn, Research Boston, Teres Consulting Inc. and White Imaging.

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