January 30 2018
For most businesses, brand awareness is this extremely nebulous concept that usually results in poorly implemented tactics and a lack of impact — that is to say, they don’t know what brand awareness is and end up employing ineffective tactics to spread the name of the brand. They have no brand awareness strategy, and it shows. Audiences are acutely aware when tactics like this fail, when no strategy is in place, and often end up viewing the brand in a much worse light than if the brand hadn’t even bothered in the first place. I’ll give you an example.
Pepsi Falls Flat
Big brands that dominate markets are in a constant battle for your mind space, and one of the ways they get in your head is through large-scale, extremely expensive brand awareness campaigns. Here’s what defines a brand awareness tactic: It’s a form of marketing that does nothing but introduce someone to a brand, a product, or a service. It does not sell anything overtly, it does not offer deals or discounts — all it does is to remind you that the brand exists in the first place. Early in 2017, Pepsi (who constantly has to pour money into brand awareness campaigns to stay in the fight with Coke) put out a horrendous ad that was meant to do nothing more than remind people that Pepsi exists and is awesome. This is the ad. It was stupid. It increased brand awareness alright, but overall, it harmed the brand. Don’t be like Pepsi.
Instead, use these proven marketing tactics to increase awareness of your brand in a positive way. The last thing you want is to become well known for being horrible people, like these idiots who came up with an idea for probably the most offensive commercial I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s jump into the tactics — remember, your main goal with any brand awareness strategy is to get the name of your brand in front of audiences in a positive way. Generally speaking, you want to focus on two main audiences:
- Potential customers
- Members of your industry and tangential industries
Here’s how you do that.
#1 — Guest Blog Like Crazy
One of the easiest ways to increase awareness of your personal brand is to guest blog as often as you can on as many blogs in your industry as you can. Not only will this help to establish you as leader in the industry, but more importantly, it helps people get to know you, and by extension, your brand. Guest blogging takes a lot of work, and it’s generally unpaid. You get paid in exposure, but within certain industries, it really is a simple, effective way to get your name, and the name of your business, in front of the right people. And here’s my favorite part of it — it’s generally free. You don’t get paid for it, but neither do you (usually) have to pay someone to do it. You put in the time and the work writing, and that’s it, which makes it much cheaper than paying some two-bit reality star to shove a can of your product into an actor-cop’s face…
#2 — Speak at Events Within Your Industry
This is very industry specific, but it can include trade shows, conferences, expositions, and a variety of other events. The basic idea is sound (and cost effective, which I love) — every industry has some big event (usually many), and if you can get on stage, you have suddenly introduced a whole mess of people in your industry to your brand in a big way. Why do I care if members of my industry know who I am? Because that can drive referral business. It can also open the door to a new side of your business — consulting.
#3 — Become a Guest on Industry Podcasts
The majority of industries today have podcasters, many of whom are well known and have regular shows. One of the difficulties of podcasting is finding content regularly, which often leads podcasters to interview folks in their industry or to conduct panel interviews. Just like speaking at an event, speaking on a podcast gets you in front of industry folks and leads to referral opportunities. It spreads awareness of your brand within your industry, which ultimately bleeds out to the public, those customers you want so desperately reach.
#4 — Get Involved in Your Community
No matter the size of your brand, nothing warms the heart (and introduces regular folks in your community to your business) quite like community service. Now, this comes in many forms, but the best way to do it is to get yourself and your team out into your community, physically, and to do something that has a direct impact (city clean up events, gift giving during the holidays, helping underprivileged kids at a local school — you name it). You do this for free, take pictures along the way, and end up meeting two goals:
- People in your community see you and get to know you in a positive way
- You generate a plethora of awesome content that you can share for weeks or months
Oh, and you are actually being of service and helping people, which is awesome and rewarding in and of itself. It’s also free publicity — you can’t beat that with a stick.
#5 — Run Some Ads
Now I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably going to have to pay some money at some point in your quest for brand awareness whether it’s in the form of targeted social media or search advertising, radio ads, TV ads, a newspaper ads, a direct mail campaign, or even some outdoor advertising. Be careful with this though, especially if you’re a small brand — digital is probably going to be a lot cheaper and a lot more impactful per dollar spent, and paying for traditional forms of marketing when there are a few big players cornering the market often runs the risk of your advertising doing nothing more than boosting their numbers.
Put in the Work
At the end of the day, brand awareness takes time. You need to be able to balance this strategy within your larger marketing strategy — if you’re not actively pushing product/service too, you run the risk of letting everyone know you exist without actually selling anything. And that’s bad for everyone. You also need to make sure that you have excellent CX to back up your awareness strategy — if you get people in the door and then act like a total jerk, your money has been wasted. Read the incredible Matt Duczeminski’s article on this very subject here and learn how you can pair awesome CX with other marketing strategies to ensure your potential customers become actual customers.