Targeted Marketing vs. Branding: Which One is Best for Your Small Business?

Read Time: 4 minutes

At the beginning of the month we posed the question, “Should small businesses focus more on targeted marketing or branding?”  In order to find an answer, we did a deep dive into what is targeted marketing for retailers. Then we did the same to uncover what is branding for small business retailers.  Which leads us to where we are today, and I must admit my conclusion did shock me a little. 

What is a Targeted Marketing?

Targeted marketing is the most successful strategy for marketing. It promotes products and services solely to a specific audience based on how their target customers use the product.  This strategy often gives smaller companies a competitive advantage over their larger competitors.

By using market segmentation retailers are able to deliver specific messages to their customers. This is based on specific customer “buckets” like zip code, purchasing habits, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.  This will allow them to deliver a stronger message that will increase their KPI’s.

Some specific KPI’s you should pay attention to are Click Through Rates, Open Rates, Unsubscribes, and most importantly Revenue. 

Finally, we talked about some integrated POS systems that assist with “Closed Loop Marketing.” If you don’t remember or were unable to catch the article Closed Loop Marketing is,

“a highly effective method of collecting and analyzing customer data from multiple channels and using the information to create targeted content for groups of customers). It provides a continuous cycle of obtaining customer’s preferences and adjusting the marketing strategy to apply.”

According to

What is Branding?

Branding is the action of distinctly marking a product or service to have it stand out from the rest.  This should be followed by a promotion of a particular product through marketing using distinct wording and design.  Thus, increasing the demand for your product while reducing the desire for a competitive product.  Simply means using the same words, phrases, designs, etc. to make your products look good and others not as good. 

“Brands” allow you to set higher prices for your products and services because they trust your “brand”. The “brand” does both, makes & keeps promises. Then we dug into why it’s so important to write your brand copy before you start your direct marketing, store design, or even make decisions on your POS.  According to, a Brand copy is the written equivalent of a company logo and the associated design standards. It communicates the personality and qualities of a product or service to customers and prospects.  This will be critical to our conclusion.

Finally, we went through several examples of ways you can better build your brand, that you can do for very little to no extra money.

In Conclusion

When I first started to write this series, I expected to tell you that targeted marketing was a better way to spend your marketing budget. I’m very glad I didn’t. I assumed that my professors were correct when they said branding is a high-cost low yield investment.  But If I had followed through on that train of thought and ignored the research, I would’ ve done you a great disservice.  Truthfully it all comes down to where are you, in your branding and marketing journey. and what types of business you’re running, or even who your competition is. 

In reality, I believe they need to be done concurrently, but not like the wasteful advertising dollars you pay to a television station or to the radio but more the kind you use to really develop your brand. 

Short Marketing Excercise

I want to do an exercise with you now.  By now some of you have spoken to me and know me or one of my associates at NCR.  One of the first questions I ask is, “Tell me about your brand, aka how do you want your customers to feel when they think about your store?”

Once you have that answer take out a piece of scratch paper and write it out in front of you.  Below that I want you to list 3 “Direct Marketing” activities & 3 “Branding” activities that you are currently doing.  Now I want you to look at your “brand copy” again. Ask yourself does this activity help deliver the message I am trying to convey to my customers about my brand? If it doesn’t then ask yourself is this really still my brand?  Did you answer yes? Then you must figure out a way to incorporate that message into that activity.  If you can’t figure out a way to incorporate that message from your brand copy into your marketing & branding activity than its time to rethink that activity. 

That’s all the time I have today, I can’t believe everything we have been able to learn on this series.  I hope some of it has been helpful and provided some ways you can stay more relevant during the retail apocalypse and assist in warding off Amazon and Chewy.

If you would like to learn about any other topics, I have not discussed yet, please feel free to reach out to me. Thank you as always.   

Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS.  He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size.  In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR (National Cash Register.)

Check out the rest of the series: