Les Binet: Avoid pushing brand and performance at the same time

Both brand building and performance advertising are vital for growth, but it’s a mistake to try to do two jobs at once, argues effectiveness expert Les Binet.

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Brands that try to combine brand advertising with performance are at risk of “getting in people’s way” and detracting from the job to be done, says Adam&eveDDB group head of effectiveness, Les Binet.

As co-author alongside Peter Field of The Long and Short of It, Binet is a firm advocate of the need for businesses to invest, both in sales activation and brand building advertising. He is an advocate of brands using the ’60:40 rule’ as a guide, whereby roughly 60% of advertising spend is on brand building and 40% is on activation or performance marketing.

“Where I think we get it wrong is when we want to do both jobs at the same time,” he said. “Brands make that mistake of trying to do the brand stuff at the point of purchase. They’re different jobs.”

Binet was speaking at event hosted by Adam&eveDDB today (12 June) that highlighted the relationship between feelings and emotions, and driving results in advertising.

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Also speaking at the event was Orlando Wood, chief innovation officer at System1. Wood spoke about two types of advertising – “showmanship” and “salesmanship”.

Salesmanship is advertising that appeals to the rational left brain, while showmanship appeals to the more emotional right brain, Wood explained.

Advertising that uses showmanship attempts to build an interest in the brand through emotional appeal and storytelling, while salesmanship assumes an interest in the brand already and looks to nudge consumers towards a sale. In short, showmanship looks to drive brand-building, while salesmanship drives direct results i.e. sales.

Over the past 20 years, advertisers have moved increasingly towards the latter, Wood claimed. However, he made the case that, while both are important, it is showmanship that will bring greater growth and profit.

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This message was echoed by Binet, who argued marketers shouldn’t try to do brand building and drive sales in the same piece of advertising. He explained brand building or showmanship advertising can make investment in performance marketing work much harder.

“When you have a strong brand, people will be more responsive to your performance marketing…they’re already warmed up,” said Binet.

While there is a tendency within the industry to dismiss emotional, brand storytelling as “emotional flimflam”, Binet argued his research with Field suggests this is the most impactful work in driving growth.

“While the sales effects of what Orlando calls salesmanship are easy to see and easy to measure. They only represent 40% of the payback, 60% of the payback comes from long-term brand,” Binet added. “60% of the selling power comes from the emotional flimflam that just gets dismissed as non-working media.”