Awareness and Direct Response Marketing

Awareness and Direct Response Marketing

Two final categories we need to consider when we think about marketing is awareness and direct response marketing. While these two ideas can work together in many contexts, I usually see them in contrast with each other. A simple way to define these are: awareness as ‘’aren’t we cool and will make your life better” and direct response as “buy this thing here, now preferably.” There is certainly some crossover between the ideas as we look at below, but the two approaches are very different. We use these levels of awareness not as a hard and fast rule but helpful categories in what we are trying to communicate. 

When we think about our customers, we need to realize there are levels of awareness each of them has. Awareness breaks down like this (inspired by: Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz)

1. Customers who don’t know your product or don’t know that they need your product. (Awareness)

2. Customers who don’t know your product but know that a need for your type of product exists. (Awareness)

3. Customers who are aware of your product and know that they have a need for your project. (Awareness/Direct Response)

4. Customers who are ready to buy your product but have not yet. (Direct Response)

When we have a customer who hits level 3 and 4, we need to use direct response advertising to help drive sales. Direct response is like the coupons you get in the mail from restaurants or walking through a mall and seeing a “50% off” sign in the window. It even includes offering the product on sale for a limited amount of time. These ads create a response directly from the customer. These ads are very trackable, especially online with UTM parameters (UTM Parameters are the way Google Analytics can read web addresses to show where website traffic came from. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module which is the company that Google bought to acquire this technology). With UTM parameters, you can see a customer’s journey very clearly.

When you are talking to customers in level 1 and sometimes level 2 of awareness, you need to be focused on awareness marketing. Awareness marketing is sometimes grouped together with brand marketing. The goal of awareness marketing is to ensure that as people learn about your product/service, they understand what it’s for, who it’s for, and what it stands for. That will help them go from steps 1 or 2 to step 4.

When working with marketing to groups of people, taking the opportunity to work on both ends of the spectrum will allow your business to win over the long run and help build a funnel of customers. However, certain companies will only play in either end of that pool. The closer your product gets to commodity status, the closer it will get to always needing to do direct response in mass marketing efforts. The more premium the branding, the more likely they are to stay in the awareness branding. For example, Apple almost always runs awareness campaigns through tv and online media. Oil changes and fast food are almost always direct response marketing through mailers and tv.

You will not likely see a generic mailer with coupons from Apple in your mailbox. You will likely see them online or on tv with an ad that paints a picture of a cool or better life with their product. While you will see some restaurants paint a cool life picture, it almost always ends with “$6.99 at participating restaurants.” 

These are some broad thoughts on marketing. Before you start marketing, you should figure out what you are marketing, more on that in chapter 2. 

This blog post is a portion of Attention and Action. The book walks you through the marketing process that Adelsberger Marketing follows with its clients. You can read this book for free as a blog on the Adelsberger Marketing website or purchase on

Permission-Based Marketing and Interruption Based Marketing

Permission-Based Marketing and Interruption Based Marketing

As so brilliantly pointed out by Seth Godin in his book, Permission Marketing, we need to understand the difference between permission and interruption based marketing. 

Traditionally all marketing was interruption based. It is called an “interruption” because it breaks up the content you were intentionally looking for. You are watching tv and *boom* interruption with an ad. Driving down the road enjoying a scenic view and *boom* billboard (unless you are in South Dakota. THERE ARE BILLBOARDS EVERYWHERE IN SOUTH DAKOTA). The advertising is interrupting the experience you are having. Entire industries are based on interruption advertising. All tv, radio, and most newspapers and magazines are based on interruption advertising.

Of course, the internet is largely focused on this as well. Most digital advertising is interruption based. News websites use display advertising to generate revenue. YouTube plays preroll and midroll ads to keep your attention for its advertisers.

Certain sections in the online economy are suffering because there are also forces trying to prevent digital ads from showing on your computer. The Ad Blocking industry is huge and growing with people being willing to pay for ads to be removed from their web experience. One estimate says that up to 25.8 percent of internet users were using ad blockers in 2019 ( Industries that are designed for interruption marketing are already struggling to survive in our modern world. For users to prevent a few ads hurts the news and content sources we enjoy to consume. Imagine running an ad supported business and having 25% of our audience get the content and not “pay” by blocking ads. We will increasingly see subscription only content models for things we are used to looking at for free. There will be a technological arms race to figure out how to make this viable. Before the dust is settled and some sort of equilibrium is reached, there will be many sources of great content lost to the history pages in wikipedia.

Permission marketing however is the opposite of interruption marketing. Permission marketing is called permission because the customer has given us permission to talk to them. This spans lots of media: print newsletters, emails, text messages, some forms of social media. But the key here is that with permission, we contact these customers. We can help create loyal customers for life if we work with permission marketing.

Permission marketing works with existing customers. Interruption marketing works to help bring in new customers. It takes both kinds. But if we can, we push clients to work on permission marketing first. If you are able to maximize the value of existing customers, you are setting yourself up for huge success in business.

This blog post is a portion of Attention and Action. The book walks you through the marketing process that Adelsberger Marketing follows with its clients. You can read this book for free as a blog on the Adelsberger Marketing website or purchase on

Providing Value

Providing Value 
Many of the best versions of marketing provide value. Value in this instance has a really broad definition. Value could be: something that is funny, something that makes you feel good, or something that educates. We like to suggest to many of our customers that providing education is always a good idea. When you provide education to your customers, in business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C), you will gain a few things: 

    1. Evergreen Content: If you educate your customers, that content is evergreen. A restaurant talking about a weekend special is only valuable to the audience for a limited amount of time. A restaurant doing an explainer about what certain terms mean on their menu or how to select the best steaks provides value and is relevant for a long period of time. These pieces can also be reused over time without much reinvention. 
    2. Higher Value: If you are able to educate your customers on why things are valuable to them, you increase your own value. If an accounting business is able to talk about how certain business structures can end up saving owners money, they are at the same time increasing the value of their services in the customer’s mind. Sometimes people do not understand that full value proposition of a good or service. If you can educate someone about the full value, you might take them to a place where they are willing to pay more for that good or service than they would have previously paid. Saddleback Leather does a great job about educating customers on their quality which helps them charge high amounts for their products. 
    3. Positioning as an Expert- This might be the most valuable component of education. The more you are able to demonstrate your expertise to your audience, the more you will be viewed as an expert in the industry. People like hiring experts. Being the top in your field means extra money for you. Being seen as an expert on a subject in your geographical area, leads to free marketing opportunities and the increase of reputation leads to more business. 
    4. SEO Value- Educational content usually answers questions for customers. Answering questions is a key component of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing. When you create content that has informational aspects to it, you will likely end up adding keywords to those posts that will help your potential customers find you on Search Engines. 

This blog post is a portion of Attention and Action. The book walks you through the marketing process that Adelsberger Marketing follows with its clients. You can read this book for free as a blog on the Adelsberger Marketing website or purchase on

Builders and Drivers

Builders and Drivers

When we consider working with a client and when someone considers their marketing resources, using two categories, builders and drivers, is helpful. Builders are pieces of marketing that are “evergreen.” “Evergreen” is a marketing term that means, like an evergreen tree, it doesn’t go out of season. It also has a long shelf life and, much like your house, it is a fairly permanent fixture. Drivers are more temporary and like sunflowers, they are only good for a season (sunflowers are an annual plant, I am told.) This a concept we are borrowing from Paul Roetzer and PR 20/20.

Builders: Builders are great places to start when thinking about marketing. Builders require some investment but allow your team to be successful for a long time. A Website is a builder; it’s evergreen . A hero video is a builder, if done properly. We want to have builders because it helps establish yours as a business worth working with. Builders will provide value for a long time – they are an investment. Examples of builders: 

hero video,
Email marketing system,
value providing ebook,
sales deck,
branding elements,
business cards,

Drivers are what help motivate people to go to your builders. Examples of drivers:
Facebook social media content,
digital ads,
tv ads,
blog post,
PR piece.  

Investing in drivers without having good builders in place is where lots of customers want to start, but it’s a short-sighted strategy. If you drive someone to a low-quality builder, you are likely going to put a customer off. Invest in builders first, then create drivers to continue to help build a business. 

This blog post is a portion of Attention and Action. The book walks you through the marketing process that Adelsberger Marketing follows with its clients. You can read this book for free as a blog on the Adelsberger Marketing website or purchase on




Attention is one of our more important resources we have left. But as a culture, we have not yet started treating it as essential as time. Attention can be garnered in a multitude of ways: bright colors, billboards, attractive people, cute dogs (and ugly dogs), notifications, emails, tv ads, and newspaper articles. While evaluating these multitudes of ways, one should also consider whose attention you are trying to gain and at what cost. 

Gathering attention and reselling it is the principle that media companies are based on. Facebook isn’t the product, we are.  Facebook gathers our attention by showing us things we think are interesting and fostering a sense of community with people we may not see every day. We are the product because it sells our attention to advertisers. Newspapers gather attention by producing journalism and then sell that attention for advertising. I think that having an app will be standard in the future because the ability to have push notifications on the consumer’s device/watch/glasses/other wearable technology will be a key attention-getter in a noisy world (call our friends at Sodium Halogen for custom app development).  

The cost of gaining attention has never been lower which means that we as a culture are more distracted than ever. As a result, it can make it harder to get good attention from your audience (it’s a painful cycle). We should think about the cost of each medium we are trying to use to get attention. Right now, the most affordable methods of getting attention are generally digital. There will come a day when the cost of digital ads will rise and the cost of traditional advertising will slide down. Because of the current state of prices, we almost never recommend our clients purchase traditional advertising. There will be a day when the cost of the traditional advertising has dropped enough to make it competitive with digital again. It is important to remember: Marketing is about attention, not necessarily the platform of how we get that attention. 

It is also important to consider whose attention you want. Understanding your customer is crucial to getting the right attention. If you primarily sell hemorrhoid cream to senior citizens, the attention that a tiktok influencer gathers is probably not the attention you want to pay for. Study: Who buys our product/service? What are they paying attention to? What do they find valuable? How do we talk to them and get their attention? We will talk more about this later in this chapter.

An additional cost of garnering attention is the cost of trust or social capital. We can see this most clearly with “click bait” headlines online. If we do something extremely bold to gain attention and do not back it up with value, we will erode the trust that our audience has with us. The only exception to this rule seems to be state and national level party politics. You can see this in email marketing as well. If you subscribe to an email list and it proves to be annoying, you do not continue to open those emails. Also, as a society, companies continue to push the edges further and further to get and keep attention. There is an atrophying of the minimum level of excitement required to get and keep attention. This is a cost we and all of our children will pay for. 


This blog post is a portion of Attention and Action. The book walks you through the marketing process that Adelsberger Marketing follows with its clients. You can read this book for free as a blog on the Adelsberger Marketing website or purchase on

Marketing and Sales

Marketing vs Sales
The gap between marketing and sales is often a small crack in small organizations. However, that gap is more like a wide gulf in large organizations. The size difference is a result of the broad definition of marketing. We believe, in short, marketing enables sales to happen. Marketing includes all the things that lead someone to be ready to make a purchase. Is a brochure sales? No. Can it enable sales? Yes.
Marketing helps generate sales. If someone comes across your brochure and then picks up a phone and calls you or visits your website to buy something – then mission accomplished! It helped create sales. Where this line gets fuzzy are things like eCommerce websites. Where does the line get drawn there? There are many elements of marketing on an eCommerce website: the photos, the copy, the branding, and the way the website works. But the actual transaction is sales. 

Why does this matter? It’s important to know who is responsible for what. If your sales teams need something to help enable sales, marketing should be responsive to that. If it’s a new sales slide show or a new landing page on the website, those are tools that marketing can provide to help sales be successful.
Working with an outside marketing agency can be self-defeating if you are horrible at sales. Bad sales skills can kill good marketing. Likewise, bad marketing slows good sales. To help everyone be successful, we need to ensure open communication between marketing and sales. We need to help ensure each part is doing a good job with their tasks and that they are not afraid to ask for help.
In each organization, it is important to break down the goals of each department. In marketing, is the goal to generate leads for sales to then follow up with? Is it to grow the public perception of the organization? Is it to generate eCommerce sales? In your organization, it will be important to specify where sales and marketing mesh and who is responsible for what. The smaller the organization, the more cross over happens, especially when the CEO/Owner is responsible for all of it. 


This blog post is a portion of Attention and Action. The book walks you through the marketing process that Adelsberger Marketing follows with its clients. You can read this book for free as a blog on the Adelsberger Marketing website or purchase on


The simplest definition of marketing that I have is this: Marketing is the effort of getting someone’s attention and motivating them to take your call to action/goal.

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