What's the Difference Between Lead Gen & Branding?

Jason Moore Jul 20, 2022 3:26:07 PM

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In this article, we’ll focus on two ways you can leverage marketing campaigns to strike the right balance between short-term gains and sustainable long-term growth. Lead generation is essential to keeping your sales team fed with high-value opportunities. Branding is the secret sauce to winning contracts easier, faster, and more consistently over time. As you read on, you'll learn how to get the most value out of your lead generation and branding activities and when to leverage each type of campaign.

Prioritize your Marketing Efforts

When we talk about marketing in the contractor industry, the conversation typically centers around lead generation. It makes sense—most businesses have massive sales teams driven by revenue goals. Competition fuels the fire when it comes to sales performance, and we want to maintain that motivation. Lead generation, however, is not the only type of marketing that is necessary for long-term success. While teams aim to get contracts signed, leaders must also focus on sustained growth in the long term. That means finding ways to support sales by making it easy to get in the door and close. After all, less time with each lead adds up to more sales opportunities.

What is the Difference Between Lead Generation and Branding?

Lead generation and branding are often seen as separate activities. In reality, they are deeply intertwined, but each accomplishes a different goal. The success of one supports the success of the other, which is why these campaigns should run simultaneously to maximize the value of your time and marketing dollars.

Lead generation is intended to generate leads, supplying your sales team with the targets they need to win deals. When done well, lead generation activities provide high-value, qualified leads that are likely to close. They may even set appointments for you with zero effort required from your team. A successful lead generation strategy will minimize wasted time and maximize ROI (or NSLI).

Branding is intended to warm up your leads prior to the sale and can also keep your customers connected to your business. Branding activities build awareness of your company and strengthen your reputation in the market. The more familiar your target audience is with your company, the easier it will be to establish trust and close deals. Branding is the key to upgrading your sales team’s experience by giving them leads that are happy to see them and require little convincing that your company is the best option. By establishing top-of-mind-awareness (TOMA), your business will be the first one that people think of when they require your service or need to provide someone with a referral.

Optimize Lead Generation Strategies

Effective lead generation strategies are essential to any successful company. Some of the most common include marketplaces that share consumer information with subscriber companies, purchased lists of property owner information, and ongoing print and digital marketing campaigns. It’s important to note that a strategy’s effectiveness largely depends on having the correct data.

Data-driven lead generation helps to accurately direct your sales teams to the most qualified leads that will bring the most value to your company. Importantly, it also enables you to eliminate dead-end “leads” from your target list, so your team can avoid wasting their time. You must ensure that your data is maintained, results are evaluated, and your process is optimized on a regular basis for this strategy to work.

Many companies believe that once they get a list of targets from industry lead providers or data companies, they should be able to continue targeting the same list with the same results. However, as that information ages, it becomes significantly less valuable. Time and again, companies come to us after the lead generation tactics that used to work fall short of their expectations. The value of your strategies will plummet if you do not put in the work to continually analyze and refine them.

Consider this example. A roofing company purchased a list of targets from a data provider following a storm. 30% of the list didn’t check out, but they got some deals signed and hit their monthly revenue goal. Eight months later, they tried to market to the same list, but the success rate was cut in half for several reasons. First, most people had contracted someone to complete the service. Second, a percentage of the list had already converted to customers. Third, many individuals were deemed unqualified during the first campaign.

The money and time spent on those disqualified property owners and existing customers could have been saved or redirected to actual leads if the data had been properly managed. Routine maintenance would have eliminated those groups from the current campaign. Instead, leads were lost to competitors. Don’t let this happen to you.

Examples of Lead Generation Efforts

• Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising via Google Display Network, social media, etc.

• Ad campaigns that are highly targeted by:

1. Device
2. IP Address
3. Mobile Geofencing
4. Specific Household Data
• Over-The-Top (OTT) media, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video
• Connected television (CTV) like Roku TV

Leverage the Power of Branding

Because branding is not intended for a quick boost in sales, it is often cut entirely from the marketing budget or pushed off the priority list. Branding activities also tend to fall victim to seasonality. Meaning that some companies with seasonal sales cycles will cut marketing spend in the slow months, and branding is often one of the first activities to go.

This common occurrence gives companies that invest in branding year-round a substantial upper hand. Branding is a necessary marketing focus that leads to sustained success and helps you keep revenue flowing year-round. Companies that understand this concept never lose touch with their prospective customers, making them the first choice when needs arise. No matter how good your sales team is, overcoming loyalty and trust in another brand is challenging.

You have a significant opportunity to one-up your competition by making branding a top priority. By investing in ongoing branding activities, you can build trust with your audience, maintain a warm pool of leads with minimal effort, and easily win their business. Enjoy being the source of your competitors’ frustration rather than experiencing it yourself.

Examples of Branding Efforts

Branding does not require an entire advertising campaign. In the simplest of terms, any instance of your logo in a place where people can see it is technically a branding activity. With such a wide range of branding opportunities, it’s essential to find the ones that fit your audience, goals, and budget.

Here are some of the common branding channels:

Traditional broadcasting: television and radio

Connected television (CTV) like Roku TV

• Over-The-Top (OTT) media, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video

Magazine articles and press releases


Print or digital ads that are not intended for conversion

Fleet vehicles with your logo and brand-appropriate designs

Sponsorships of charitable organizations 

Guide Branding with Data

While generic branding activities are helpful, targeted branding is the most effective. It is more valuable to your company if 100 qualified leads see your brand on repeat than if 10,000 unqualified people do. The key to effective branding is understanding your desired audience. That’s how you deliver a compelling message at the right time and through the appropriate channels. That’s why creating customer profiles is vital to branding success.

The better you understand your customers, the easier it will be to communicate with them, add value to their lives, and build a connection with your business. It’s also important to learn about their interests, where they spend time (physically or online), and their priorities. This will help you tailor your message to them and place your brand in channels where they will see it and develop a positive association between you and their favorite activities.

Imagine that your target consumer is a parent who spends a lot of time taking their kids to little league, watching YouTube videos, and donating to youth charities. With this information alone, your company could focus on efforts that align with the consumer’s interests. Consider these options:

• Sponsor a little league team

• Help renovate a local park where children play sports

• Create educational ads that run on YouTube

• Support a back-to-school drive that provides school supplies to children in need

• Pay for a billboard advertising a local youth charity that is co-branded with your logo

What Does Success Look Like?

With every company focused on ROI or NSLI, people often look at metrics like leads, appointments, or sales conversions to determine the success of campaigns. That calculation can be misleading depending on the purpose of your campaign.

Tracking Conversions

If you run a lead generation campaign with a clear call-to-action (CTA) that encourages the viewer to call, fill out a form, or set an appointment, then the conversion calculation makes perfect sense. Just make sure that you look at the metrics that matter—cost per acquisition (CPA) and net sales per lead issued (NSLI). If your cost-per-lead (CPL) is low, but none of those leads become customers, then the value of those conversions is zero. The critical calculation from a budget and value standpoint is how many marketing dollars were spent to acquire your new customers.

Digital marketing makes lead generation campaigns easier to track, measure, and adjust. Most advertising channels, like social media and Google Display Network, have user-friendly analysis tools that show the exact number of clicks, form fills, appointments, or other conversion metrics. However, advancements in modern print marketing have also made tracking possible through call tracking numbers, dedicated landing pages, QR codes, offer codes, and more.

Beyond Conversions

Branding campaigns are not always straightforward since conversion is not the primary goal. Good branding supports your sales over time, making it easier to get your foot in the door, close deals, and build positive, lasting relationships with your customers that result in more sales and referrals. Successful branding tips the scale, so prospects choose you over the competition. If it's done well, a strong brand can make you the only legitimate option in consumers’ minds—your sales team just needs to show up and close a piping hot lead. But all of this will be lost if you measure a branding campaign by how well it converts. 

When looking at branding campaigns, you can focus on their reach rather than the conversions that result. A broad reach within the right audience means your brand and message are getting in front of the right people. While the total reach of a billboard or magazine ad can be more challenging to measure, advancements in digital advertising and marketing channels like CTV and OTT are making it more accessible. Companies can gain insights into who is looking at their branding campaigns, on what devices, and for how long. 

While less concrete, the positive effects of great branding can also be seen and experienced. Surveys or informal feedback from leads, customers, and team members often tell the story. Employees and workers experience a sense of pride when friends, family, and the public recognize the company they work for and respond positively to it. Branding builds loyalty among leads, customers, and employees alike, which can be an excellent tool for worker retention and recruitment. Over time, as branding efforts take effect, you should see a year-over-year (YOY) lift across different mediums in the form of click traffic, impressions, and revenue.

Strike a Balance Between Lead Generation and Branding

Any complete marketing strategy will incorporate both lead generation and branding activities. While lead generation campaigns may ebb and flow with the industry’s seasons or your company’s goals, branding should run year-round to ensure a continual conversation with your audience. The second that branding activities pause, your competition has the opportunity to step in and steal the attention away from your business. 

Accurate and well-maintained data should drive both lead generation and branding strategies. This will guide your team to the right leads and enable you to create the most effective campaigns that resonate with your future and existing customers. The more you can use data to guide the elements of your marketing efforts—message, channel, placement, offers, etc.—the higher your chance of success. Data is the key to minimizing wasted money and time and maximizing value, opportunities, and revenue.

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