There seem to be a lot of mixed messages in the marketing community when it comes to branding your company versus generating sales. On one side, you have the folks that insist that branding is critical to instill trust, and that you should not pollute your brand with incessant calls to action. On the other side you have the folks that will tell you that every single message you send out should contain a plain, clear request for the sale.
Traditionally, this ideological hurdle has been overcome by separating out your primarily brand-building messages from your messages intended to direct sales. The current economy has forced a shift toward unification, simply because there is generally less money to work with. The trend has been to increasingly opt for more cost-effective forms of advertising, particularly email marketing, as well as more consolidated marketing efforts.

Personally, I think this is a good thing. I fall square in between these two marketing camps. I think that yes, branding is critical and should not be ruined by constantly asking the client to buy. But, on the other hand, it is also important that your marketing messages contain some call to action. It doesn’t have to be a request for the sale. The important thing is customer engagement. Any small action you can get the potential client to take moves them closer to being a paying customer.
Because people need internal consistency. If they repost a cool video from XYZ company, they’re not merely somebody who likes cool videos–they’re also somebody who likes XYZ company. If someone forwards your email message to a friend, they will have an internal need to justify that action. So, they’ll tend to think more favorably about your company and your product after they forward the email than they did before.
Likewise, if someone purchases your product or service, your branding messages both before and after the sale will help to solidify the feeling that your company is reliable and that the purchase was well-founded. When people buy things, they tend to have one of two reactions: feelings of satisfaction or feelings of remorse.
If you can help your clients experience a feeling of satisfaction following the purchase, they will go on to invent and discover additional reinforcements for this feeling on their own. Otherwise, you will find that they devalue even the positive aspects of your product and publicize the ways that they have been duped by you. This is why a friendly and supportive followup email may be the most important step you can take to safeguard your business. Your contact following the purchase will help start your clients off on that path of security and satisfaction.
All of this adds up to the idea that branding and selling are much more strongly interconnected than marketers have had the luxury of believing during better economic times. Email sales should leverage and enhance your branding, and email marketing that is done primarily for branding should engage your clients in small behavioral commitments that encourage purchases.