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Brand Marketing vs. Funnel Marketing: What’s the Difference?



You might’ve noticed that all of us at Wistia have been talking more and more about brand marketing. Our view — as we outline in our Brand Affinity Marketing Playbook — is that the next stage of investment in video marketing will be long-form, serialized content designed to increase brand affinity. And when it comes to brand marketing, this method is a different type of investment than the one you’d make in typical, straight-forward digital advertising. Let’s take a look at the differences between brand marketing and funnel marketing and why you might want to invest more in your brand.


Brand marketing is the investment in marketing activities designed to associate imagery, ideas, and feelings with a brand in the mind of consumers. It typically takes the form of creative content that’s distributed through advertising, organic channels — or both.

It’s not a new concept. Brand marketing, in various forms, has compromised the lion’s share of investment in marketing since the 1950s. TV, print media, and billboards are all created in an effort to tell a story and increase emotional connections between a consumer and a business. It’s how most established major businesses have built a name for themselves.

But the promise of more trackable, directly attributable advertising and marketing activity, led by innovations in CRM and digital advertising over the past 15 years, has shifted the default approach to marketing most new businesses now take.

Typically defined as performance marketing, inbound marketing, or digital marketing, the new “funnel-centric” approach starts with the premise that potential customers go through a linear process called the “buyer’s journey.”


Image credit: HubSpot

The idea is that businesses can — and should — reach their users (“prospects”) at each stage of this journey, providing appropriate guidance at each point that eventually leads to users choosing their product or service.

The growth of the buyer’s journey mentality has ensured businesses move away from one-size-fits-all messaging, toward offering more targeted and focused offerings for individuals based on their particular situational needs.

However, it’s also meant that a huge number of small businesses today aren’t doing any brand marketing at all. The shared thought is that brand marketing is something big companies invest in, which smaller companies can afford to avoid, since an investment in targeted and specific messaging will yield returns more efficiently than expensive creative content.

Brand marketing and funnel marketing essentially use the same tactics, with different foundational strategies. Both heavily rely on using content to acquire users via search, social media, advertising, and email. But, they differ in terms of the audience, the intention, and the success metrics.

“They differ in terms of the audience, the intention, and the success metrics”

Let’s compare:

Funnel Marketing Brand Marketing
Audience is potential customers Audience is potential influencers
Goal is to drive conversions Goal is to drive engagement
Reach people when they’re looking for solutions to problems your product solves Reach people when they’re looking for general information and entertainment
Convince people of the value of your product or service Explore an idea or topic your audience cares about
A focus on acquiring leads A focus on acquiring fans and subscribers

While funnel marketing treats each new user as a potential new customer on the first step of their journey, brand marketing treats each new user as a potential advocate who can further spread a company’s message.

“Brand marketing treats each new user as a potential advocate who can further spread a company’s message.”

Funnel marketing, therefore, focuses on nurturing new users as individuals, with a single end goal for each user (revenue). Brand marketing, on the other hand, treats users as members of many different communities, providing an opportunity to further amplify a brand message through word-of-mouth.

Relying solely on conversion-oriented investments has several flaws.

The modern buyer’s journey relies much more on word-of-mouth than individual research

With the growth of private, ad-free social messaging platforms, more than ever, consumers are researching products on platforms that marketers can’t see or track — in a phenomenon ominously (and excellently) called “dark social.”

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For example, if I want to buy a new monitor for video editing, my first step is not to search Amazon or Google, but instead to text Wistia’s ultimate gear-head, Chris Lavigne. And if I want to find a new small-business banking service, I don’t start with searching comparison sites, but instead sending a message to a Whatsapp group of self-employed friends from college.

This trend isn’t only reserved for B2C businesses; it holds true for B2B investments, too. If I want to buy a new rank tracking software to provide data for some marketing dashboards, I won’t shop around. I’ll just ask for tips in a private Technical SEO Slack community.

In all of these cases, I’ve bypassed the awareness and consideration stages of the funnel, and gone straight to the decision phase before any business had the chance to market to me at all.

Google and Facebook completely control what’s left of the funnel

As pointed out in this study, the big tech giants are steadily taking over the entirety of the buyer’s journey, and filling it with ads. One of the smartest strategic plays of Google and Facebook over the last few years has been to convince marketers that all marketing investments are now quantifiable, all the while ensuring the only truly quantifiable activity available are ads on Facebook and Google. The removal of keyword data from Google Organic referrals (i.e., not provided) in 2011 was the first stage of this, and more and more control has been asserted ever since.

Both Google and Facebook seem to share the goal of being a one-stop-shop for advertising and marketing, where marketers can go to buy access to an audience of potential customers, and reach them efficiently with appropriate messages for their stage in the buyer’s journey. And, they’re doing a very good job of it. The problem is that this trend involves all businesses being completely reliant on just two giant businesses to survive, at which basic rules of the market mean advertising costs are going to increase significantly, punishing any business that hasn’t been able to break away from the “pay-to-play” model.

As the adage goes, you get what you measure. And if you only measure the value of content in terms of its contribution to a sale, you’re going to inevitably start shifting all your creative energies towards things that look like ads and product videos.

Even if the desire initially is to do something more creative and entertaining (perhaps under the framing of “top of funnel” content), measuring success based on sales will mean you end up wanting to include product value propositions in everything you do — hampering the initial intent and its efficacy.

Success with brand marketing relies on two things: consumption and conversation.

1. Consumption: Are people engaging with your content and message?

2. Conversation: Are people talking about your content and message with others?

Obviously, to start with, you need to have a great message and brand identity.

Need help getting started? Ogilvy’s Big Idea framework is a great resource if you need help refining your brand identity.

Once you have a solid message and identity, the challenge then becomes how you can maximize consumption and conversation with your creative assets and distribution:


Creatively, you need to come up with something that will get people talking. Word-of-mouth relies on galvanizing communities and subcultures, which you can achieve by targeting a niche audience.


On the distribution side, you need to get in front of people in the places they’re looking for distractions, like social media. You also need to make sure whatever you’re creating captures the attention of anyone who comes across it and captivates them enough to keep exploring, all while providing sufficient reason for sharing — on both private and public platforms. At Wistia, we believe the best way to achieve all this is by marketing like a media company, which, in short, means marketing your content like a product.


One of the reasons why businesses are reluctant to invest more in brand marketing activities is that the return is inherently much less directly measurable. For example, If you spend $10,000 on PPC ads, and implement a sensible attribution model (e.g., linear or time-decay), you can arrive at a very straightforward “money in, money out” figure. This then makes justifying further investment very straightforward, since you can say with an extremely high degree of confidence that this activity will be worthwhile.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for brand marketing activities, where the direct benefit is in changing the way people think and feel about you — something which doesn’t necessarily manifest itself outside of the minds of consumers. So, to effectively measure brand marketing, we have to use a series of proxies which likely represent a shift in attitude and behavior. But the one, single most important metric to quantify value from Brand Marketing is time spent with your brand.

While funnel marketing has helped dictate our strategies in the past, it isn’t the best way to build a lovable brand in the future. When it comes down to it, if you want to grow your brand, you need to combine funnel marketing with Brand Affinity Marketing, investing in tactics that increase word-of-mouth and create more meaningful relationships with your customers.

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Video Marketing

3 Lessons From Marketing’s Top Creatives about Building a Successful Career



“I’m not seeing very many marketers anymore,” says Cole Schafer, the Founder of Honey Copy, a creative copywriting agency that works with technology startups. “I’m seeing a lot of data scientists and growth hackers obsessing over metrics. And very few marketers who are coming up with big, hairy, audacious, creative marketing ideas and finding the courage to execute on those ideas.”

Schafer is one of the most passionate and outspoken advocates of creativity in marketing today — and for good reason. At just 26 years old, he runs Honey Copy, which has generated over $300,000 in revenue in only two years and boasts a newsletter with over 6,000 subscribers.

Living the professional life of someone who could list “VP of Marketing” on his resume, Schafer can surprisingly only tout numerous freelance copywriting gigs and a 2016 undergraduate marketing degree. So how did he pull it off? According to him, his reliance on creativity and intuition has helped him reach success.

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“I’m using the word art here over ‘content’ because art is something that’s pretty, adds value to someone’s life, and is unconditional. Content isn’t,” Schafer says in his article about running a successful copywriting agency. “Honey Copy has seventy 2,000+ word articles on its blog and countless newsletters to its name. They’re pretty, they’re valuable, and they’re unconditional.”

In other words, crafting a truly original, emotionally resonant piece of art can impact your audience and, in turn, your bottom line much more than churning out cookie-cutter content can. And this prioritization of creativity over optimization can make all the difference between building a fulfilling, creative career and simply coasting through a lackluster one.

“Crafting a truly original, emotionally resonant piece of art can impact your audience much more than churning out cookie-cutter content can.”

“Creative marketers can start building careers they are proud of when they can turn around and point to something they’ve proudly created,” Schafer says. “Keyword: created. Not optimized. But, created.”

To build a successful creative career, though, you need better advice than just “be creative.” That’s why we asked four other marketers who have built thriving creative careers — Jay Acunzo, Eddie Shleyner, Jimmy Daly, and Ben Goldman — how they’ve managed to find success.

People often forget that creativity is a skill. Just like a professional athlete, building a thriving creative career requires constant refinement of your skills. And the only way to get better is through practice.

“Our jobs are NOT to ‘be creative.’ Our jobs are to create,” says Jay Acunzo, the Founder of Marketing Showrunners. “We spend too much time debating, researching, hopping between processes and tools, and coffee meetings to ‘pick your brain.’ As a result, the most important thing goes missing: creating stuff all the time.”

However, if you’re not experiencing the gains or results you expect, sharpening your creativity can take its toll on you. Eddie Shleyner, the Founder of VeryGoodCopy and Senior Copywriting Manager at G2, knows this all too well. “Creative work is incredibly taxing, physically, mentally, emotionally,” he says. “It can drain you, especially if you’re not finding outward success.” His advice? Keep creating. “Just know that this frustration is normal, that all creative professionals feel tired and discouraged from time to time, especially in the beginning,” he says. “The only way to find success is to continuously study your craft and never quit.”


Honing your creativity might be one of the hardest endeavors you’ll ever embark on. But trust Acunzo and Shleyner — the benefits are definitely worth it. They might just help you launch your own creative agency one day!

One of the most frustrating challenges marketers face is not having total creative freedom at their jobs. How can you truly unleash your creativity if you work in a super-strict industry or if you have a miniscule budget? Fortunately, creativity is often born out of constraints.

Want to explore the relationship between money and creativity? Watch Wistia’s first-ever, four-part original series One, Ten, One Hundred today.

Committing to creativity forces you to use your resources in more inventive and novel ways. In other words, getting creative with limited resources can actually produce a more creative result. On the flip side, having access to a stockpile of resources doesn’t force you to make the best of what you have. As a result, you tend to use your resources in conventional ways, which can lead to cliche work.

Jimmy Daly, the Director of Marketing at Animalz, has learned that embracing his constraints, specifically time constraints, can lead to an explosion of creativity and a fulfilling marketing career.

“A long, happy career in marketing is one where creativity can blossom in a world of constraints,” he says. “All of us face constraints in our work: budgets, deadlines, dependencies, KPIs, etc. I personally find that the creative work — writing in particular — is what keeps me energized and excited about work. Still, it has to be done alongside spreadsheets and in between meetings.”

Constraints might limit your resources, but the very fact that they exist can help us generate better ideas.

Another crucial step to building a fulfilling creative career is developing a network of creative professionals. Not only can they give you honest feedback about your work, but you can also collaborate with them to create something that could only be accomplished together.

“In the world of creativity, nothing is as effective or as important as working with collaborators,” says Ben Goldman, the Director of Films at InVision. “Whether you’re making a movie, writing a book, or doing any serious work of creativity, having people you trust and collaborate deeply with is indispensable. Collaboration strengthens ideas, pushes you through hard times, and allows you to achieve more than you would be able to flying solo.”

As an employee, developing relationships with your creative colleagues is even more crucial. But the main benefit here isn’t to improve your work — it’s to help you make a case for your creative projects.

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“In marketing organizations, working with collaborators is especially important because it’s much more difficult to push major projects through on your own,” Goldman says. “And building alliances and relationships with others is the best way to gain buy-in on a creative project.”

Constantly raising the bar for yourself, innovating on your company’s brand, and truly impacting your audience will lead to a successful and fulfilling career — not sticking to the status quo. So, network with your fellow creatives. You never know how far a simple LinkedIn connection could take you!

We all have the potential to look back on our careers and be truly proud of what we’ve accomplished. As creative marketers, keep these tips in mind from the folks who have forged the path already and remember to practice your creativity regularly, embrace constraints, and keep your relationships with other creatives strong. Happy creating!

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Video Marketing

The Differences Between Wistia Channel Subscribers and YouTube Subscribers



Last month we launched Wistia Subscribers, a new feature that adds a simple subscription form to your Wistia Channel, allowing viewers to subscribe just like they would on…well … YouTube.


While on the surface these two features may seem a lot alike, there are some critical differences between YouTube Subscribers and Wistia Subscribers. Here’s what you need to know about Wistia Subscribers (and why this data may be more valuable to your business).

When someone subscribes to a Wistia Channel, you, the content creator, receive their email address. When someone subscribes to a YouTube Channel, on the other hand, all you get is an extra number on the subscriber counter.

With YouTube, you have no idea who has subscribed to your Channel and no way to reach them directly other than via paid advertising. YouTube controls the communication with your subscriber and keeps all the details of who they are locked away.

This is a problem, because with both B2C and B2B marketing in the modern world, an email list of engaged subscribers is one of the most valuable assets you can build. Once you have an email address, you can communicate directly with potential customers, build remarketing lists, encourage word of mouth, or use email enrichment to understand more about who your subscribers are.

With Wistia Integrations, it’s a 5-minute job to ensure all of your new subscribers are integrated directly with your email service provider or marketing automation platform. This means that every new Channel subscriber you have automatically gets sent to your database of leads and subscribers, where you can bring them into your wider email marketing and lead nurturing workflows. With YouTube subscribers…you can’t do any of those things.

“With Wistia Integrations, it’s a 5-minute job to ensure all of your new subscribers are integrated directly with your email service provider or marketing automation platform.”

If users subscribe to your YouTube Channel (and have notifications turned on) they’ll occasionally get an email that aggregates recent updates from all the channels they’re subscribed to. If you’re lucky, your video will be front and center in this email.


If you’re unlucky, your update will be buried next to a review of an unappetizing looking chicken burger…or worse.


However, with Wistia, you can choose to notify someone the moment a video is published, with your own branding, customized subject line, and copy, stipulated by you.


The core difference between the two platforms is, ultimately, control. With Wistia, you pay for the product, but you retain all the value from each new subscriber. With YouTube, the product is free, but Google owns your audience and charges you for the privilege of trying to speak to them.

Social media can be a risky place, and YouTube is prone to changing its terms and conditions very quickly. The only way to futureproof your business from the whims of the biggest company in the world is to build the audience yourself.

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Video Marketing

4 Show Title Structures That’ll Help You Name Your Next Video Series



There’s an old adage in the world of copywriting that states, “The sole purpose of the first sentence in an ad is to get you to read the second sentence.” When crafting binge-worthy content, the same principle applies. In this case, your first sentence is your video series’ title, and your second sentence is your trailer.

Coming up with the right name for your show can be the difference between your audience tuning into your first episode and scrolling right past it. So to help you craft the perfect title that’ll grab your audience’s attention and convince them to hit play, we’ve analyzed seven popular TV show names and shared some key takeaways that you can apply when naming your next binge-worthy show. Let’s get going!

“Coming up with the right name for your show can be the difference between your audience tuning into your first episode and scrolling right past it.”

The showrunners of Black Mirror have created a futuristic (yet all too realistic) universe where society completely depends on technology to lead their lives. Each storyline features a visionary piece of technology that seems strictly utilitarian at first. But by the end of each episode, the tech ends up revealing a profound insight into human nature. And that’s exactly why Black Mirror is such a great TV show title. Your device’s black screen reflects much more than your mirror image.

When naming your video series, consider using a metaphor to shed light on what it’s going to be all about at its core. By doing so, you’ll help viewers quickly make the connection between the name of your show and its overall theme. Your show’s title is a great opportunity to give your potential viewers an idea of what’s to come if they tune in.

image1Image Credit: Medium

Coined by the advertising men who worked on Madison Avenue in the 1950s, the term “Mad Men” was just a clever play-on-words they used to refer to themselves as. But the brilliance of this show’s title doesn’t lie in its historic roots — it lies in the irony that the ad men of Madison Avenue (or at least the ones that are portrayed on this show) actually live their lives like madmen.

The creators of Mad Men placed a hidden meaning behind the show’s title as it subtly hints at one of its most important themes. If you can do the same, your audience will immediately understand the double-meaning of your title after watching the first episode of your video series, which can play a big role in persuading them to keep coming back for more. Who wouldn’t want to tune in to see how mad these men really get?

image5Image Credit: Shrink Tank

Another example of a show with a pretty explicit double entendre for a series title is the classic medical comedy, Scrubs. The show portrays the lives of young, ambitious doctors who are trying to climb the medical ladder at a bustling hospital. But even though they’re eager to succeed, these rookies’ inexperience leads to countless blunders and antics. They don’t just wear scrubs — they are scrubs.

Using a double entendre to highlight your video series’ external and internal narrative in your title is a clever way to grab people’s attention and retain it after they start watching your video series. For instance, when you see the title Scrubs, you immediately understand that the show is about being a doctor. But after you watch the first episode, you start to realize that the show is more about the struggle of being a young doctor than purely just saving people’s lives.

image3Image Credit: Next Episode

Sometimes, straightforward titles are the best titles. For instance, How I Met Your Mother is exactly what it sounds like: A show about the lead character, Ted Mosby, meeting the mother of his children — his wife.

Clarity is one of the most effective ways to get your audience to understand and visualize your video series’ concept. So when naming your next show, consider starting with a working title that clearly describes your video series’ premise. From there, you can spice it up a bit, but, sometimes, the most straightforward title can be your best title.

image4Image Credit: Den of Geek

Regardless of whether or not your video series can compete with a big-budget Hollywood production, your show title still needs to be compelling enough for an audience to want to give it a shot. So be sure to give your video series’ title some serious thought before slapping it on there and calling it a day. Remember, you only have so many opportunities to grab your audience’s attention, so make sure you step out of the gates with your best foot forward!

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