So many business people today place brand building at or near the top of their marketing priority list. (I’m not one of them, by the way.)

But if brand building is important to you, you should know it requires a major investment.

Brand building takes time – not months but years – and money. Lots of money.

In its simplest form, brand building involves creating an image and cementing that image in the minds of your audience. Branding also involves positioning – establishing a unique position for your business in the minds of your target audience.

So how do you build a brand when you don’t have a lot of money?

Here’s what I tell clients:

You have to start with the acknowledgement that above all else, brand building requires repetitive messaging. Yes, you need to be positioned properly with the right message and your messaging needs to be consistent. But the big factor is repetition.

The largest brand advertisers use television to reach their audience. And we’re not talking about a few ads here and there. The large advertisers run their ads constantly … on all the major stations … in prime time. We are talking about big bucks.

If you’re a small business – or even a large business on a moderate budget – you can still achieve that repetition but you need to be more selective in whom you target and how you reach them.

And it makes no difference what medium you are using. You could be using television, radio, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, online advertising, Google pay per click, coupon packs, card decks or free publicity. How you reach your larger audience isn’t the issue here.

What’s important is the strategy.

When you make your initial contact, you need to do whatever you can to generate a response – a lot of response. With small budgets, there is no room for waste … and no luxury for pure awareness advertising.

With your initial advertising, you need to squeeze out every response and capture every name, mailing address and email address you can.

The reason should be obvious. Once you have a list of people who have responded to your earlier marketing efforts, you have the foundation for your future marketing efforts. The difference is that your follow-up marketing efforts are going to be significantly less expensive.

With targeted direct mail and especially email, you can begin a marketing program that reaches this self-selected audience a regular basis – monthly, weekly, even daily.

You can build your brand and cement your image through repeat messaging and wide range of engagements – like video, white papers, surveys – on your website.

Granted you’re not reaching everyone in your marketplace, but you are reaching the people most interested in what you sell … people who have responded to your earlier promotions.

So if branding is important to you, go with it … but use direct response first.


Written by Bob McCarthy

This article may be reprinted without permission as long as the article includes the following credit: Bob McCarthy is a freelance copywriter and consultant specializing in direct marketing and lead generation. His website is He can be reached at 508-473-8643 or by email at

About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."