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Our friend, Ed Brooks, turned us onto an article released today in Forbes. The article points out that a store receiving a great deal of its site traffic from generic searches is an indication that the store does not have a very good branding campaign. If people in your community really understand and buy into your unique selling proposition, then you will receive a great deal of direct traffic to your site as well as traffic through search terms that include the name of your store. Most stores receive well over half their traffic this way. Some can be 70% or more. But this may be the sign of a strong branding campaign or a weak search campaign.
Of course, it would be nice to achieve a huge amount of site traffic from both the brand image and unbranded search terms. Either one done in excess can take the store deep into diminishing returns. However, there is a strong regional variation. In some markets, a strong branding campaign is prohibitively expensive. The price of radio, TV, print, and outdoor may be sky high. Even banner ads can be more expensive in some markets than others. Search, on the other hand, varies in cost from market to market but not to the same degree as branding advertising.
So can a dealership obtain enough direct traffic from search, listings, and leads to avoid branding altogether? The article, written for a wide range of businesses suggests the answer is no. For some dealers, we insist the answer is yes. That doesn't mean branding does not work or cannot be done cost effectively, it does and it can. The question is, "Is branding necessary?"