Direct Response Marketing + Branding

By Ernest Corder
An keycap for the "Enter" button under renovation by miniature construction workers who are painting the "Mastercard", "Target", and "Home Depot" logos.

Redroc works with quite a few direct response marketing clients, especially in the home improvement and after-market home services industries, including windows, roofing, flooring, painting, gutters, bathroom remodels, and more. One thing all these businesses have in common is a complete, 100% reliance on direct response (DR) marketing and advertising. The CMOs and Marketing Directors are usually judged solely by how many leads they bring in, how those leads convert to appointments and sales, and the ultimate cost of marketing by the source. It would be great if advertising were that simple and easy to attribute to specific ad sources, but it is not. Branding is seldom mentioned, which we feel is a big mistake, especially for the long-term viability of a business.

The Direct Response Cycle

We get it. Our agency has these types of clients, and we’re often judged by the direct response to our commercials. Direct response needs are not going away. It brings the leads that make the sales that pay the bills. However, we must break free from the direct response cycle, which is fueled by increasing budgets for pay-per-click, aggregators, and Facebook Leads ads, none of which are effective at building a strong brand that commands attention and sales.

“Get rich quick schemes’ are called ‘schemes’ for a reason; doing it right doesn’t allow for a lot of short cuts.”

Take It To 120%

Our recommendation is to focus 100% on direct response, PLUS 20% on branding. We’re shooting for 120%. We want to build a brand without sacrificing dollars that could be spent on direct response advertising. We always have a limited time offer, we always include CTAs (calls to action), and we run on sources that are closer to the click or call. But we also include the brand’s look and feel, slogans, colors, memorable gags, and unique selling propositions. We bring in spokespeople or owners, and we make an emotional connection through messaging so people will remember our clients. We recommend extending your brand by attending local events and meeting the community in-person. Sponsor fun events. Build local content on your web site and social media pages. Stay the course with your brand.

“Get rich quick schemes” are called “schemes” for a reason; doing it right doesn’t allow for a lot of short cuts. It is normal that you won’t be able to attribute exact sales figures to all sources, but that’s okay. It’s the totals that really matter anyway. If you are shooting for a 15% cost of marketing, and some sources are over and some under, but you hit your sales goals and come in at 14.98% COM, do you care?

What Are the Results?

Not everyone is looking for new windows today, but someday they might be. We must make sure they know who we are so that when they’re in the market, they know who to call. It’s the same story with roofs, furniture, flooring, showers, tubs, or any purchase targeted by DR. We must build our local brands to be ready when that person works their way into the market. We will continue to use direct response sources (PPC – pay per click, Facebook Leads, etc.), but we are the name that customers will recognize and trust before they ever call. People do business with those they know and trust. Remember when we ran large ads in the Yellow Pages, but still ran ads on TV and radio? We built our brands in traditional media, and then when people opened the Yellow Pages, they saw our ads and thought, “I know that company.” The same is true with Google.


You are held accountable for sales, so push 100% of your efforts towards those goals. However, you should layer your brand messaging on top to get to that 120%, well above your competition. Do it by being different – addressing your USPs (unique selling propositions), coming up with memorable copy or storylines, and always being out there. Building a brand brings reliable, long-term leads and success so you aren’t chasing the lead every day forever. This is the position in which your company should aspire to be.

Interested in learning more about how Redroc Austin can assist you with your direct response advertising needs? Set up a free consultation to learn more.

ERNEST CORDER is the founder, President and CCO at Redroc. Ernest provides leadership, creative work, copywriting and media strategy as part of the Redroc team. His passion to create marketing that actually works spans over three decades in the advertising industry.

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