Direct “Action Branding” For Results Multiplied

By on July 27, 2014

At a recent Marketing Boot Camp, a gentleman on the hot seat had a problem he wanted to solve. He stated that his HVAC company prided itself on customer service, and he wondered how to assure that his technicians reflected that.

I suggested that he study the teachings of Dina Dwyer Owens, a speaker we’ve had at a recent Superconference, because she teaches her playbook on Core Values. Those values lead to brand values, and that’s the direction I’m going to take you right now.   Let’s address “values-as-message” first…

If Customer Service Is Our Unique Value, Is It Really Unique?

I ask my clients point blank, “What makes you unique?” They often share that they have the highest quality product or service in their category, and that they give outstanding customer service because no one else does anymore.  Although that may be true, I’ve heard “Quality and Service” so many times that whenever it’s uttered, I imagine Polly the Parrot squawking the overused platitudes.

Statements such as “quality and service” and “highest quality” are business platitudes.  We’ve heard them so many times, that they have become meaningless.  It’s terrific that you stand for those values; however, using them as a point of uniqueness is challenging.

If you insist on leading with “Quality and Service”, consider adding meaningful specifics. For example, a carpet cleaning service could promote, ‘the deepest between-the-fibers cleaning ever, or double your money back”.  Or, like a cable TV provider has stated, “Our technicians will arrive within a 2 hour window, or we’ll pay you $25 as penalty”.  Or, “the only cupcake store with the $500 Happiness Guarantee”.

We Do Many Things Well, Isn’t That Enough?

Although you may do everything well, the world wants to know what you do GREAT.  If you do so much well, it is hard to stand out for anything in particular.

It’s much easier to be recognized for a specialty; you’ll see evidence of this everywhere.  Michael Jordan – Guard.  Mrs. Fields – Gourmet Cookies.  Federal Express – Overnight Shipping.  Chicago Cubs — Come for the beer, stay for the…well, beer.

The World Wants Labels Because We Seek Shortcuts

I had become highly-skilled in so many areas that my multiple specialties became a liability rather than an asset, even though every talent is related to Marketing.  I didn’t know I needed a label.  However, labels help the world understand you more quickly.

I had long wrestled with this, and frankly, put it off because I couldn’t get myself to just pick one thing to be about.  Plus, I felt I had other fish to fry, like getting clients.

The day I learned the lesson, it hit me like a ton of bricks when a prospect confronted me, checkbook in hand, and said to me “Mark, you obviously know your stuff, but what is it exactly that you do?  I want to work with you, but I don’t know what to do with you!”

It was clear, that “What I’m About” is the #1 thing that, once fixed, would open up the floodgates for everything else.  Learning is what happens when you think you’re doing something else, so go figure.

You or your company needs to Be About Something.  The world will move more quickly your way when it knows clearly what you’re about.

What Is “Action Branding”?

Simply put, we use Direct Response Marketing to cause Accelerated Buying Action, and we combine it with Branding to gain Exponential Acceptance and Heart-Share™.

In an ideal scenario, our customers and clients initially buy us for who we are and what we’re about.  Then, as we build your relationship with them, they attach themselves to what we are about – essentially our Brand Message.

Why Do You Want To Implement “Action Branding”?

I’ve had the luxury of working closely with 2 heavyweights in the big brand advertising world.  One wrote the book on “Storybranding”, and the other was the creator of the catchphrase “Coulda’ had a V8!”

Believe me, I took every opportunity to pick their brains and do as Bruce Lee taught,  “Take what is useful, and discard the rest”.  When I married their concepts of traditional Branding with my core expertise in Direct Response — Whammo!  A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Moment.

Those “Mad Men” taught me that the biggest reason to focus on your Brand is because at the end of the day, when you want to sell or value your company, the 2 greatest assets scrutinized will be: 1) Your customer value  2) Your Brand Value

So What Are YOU About Anyway?

If you’ve ever found yourself working harder to make a sale, consider it may be caused by lacking a well-defined Brand Message. Think simply…”He’s the guy who (insert uniqueness)”.  “That’s the company that (insert uniqueness)”.  Clarify this and watch your topline grow exponentially.



About Mark Imperial

Direct Response Marketing Mark Imperial is the Founder of Imperial Action, a Digital Agency that helps SMBs and some of the world’s most famous brands to maximize profits and valuation through scientific marketing methods. Mark shares his marketing addiction through his Chicago radio show. Learn more Mark Imperial at and