Brand awareness is a phrase you will hear more and more as you start shaping your career in the business world.
But what is it, really?
Brand awareness can be defined as the level of public interest or attention that a company acquires over time through advertising campaigns. Think of companies like Coca-Cola that dump millions into ads every year to make sure people remain aware of their products.
They’re well known to the point where they very rarely need to advertise. People already associate their product with things like happiness, enjoyment, and gatherings just by hearing their brand name mentioned.
Part of the reason they’re so successful is due to years of solidifying their presence in people’s day-to-day lives. They’re on TV, the radio, internet ads, and they take advantage of sponsorships.
Why is Brand Awareness Important for Your Business?
While your goal might not be to build that same massive brand presence that Coca-Cola has, even smaller businesses can benefit from some amount of brand awareness.
If you’re a real estate agency in a small town, you want people to come see you as soon as they start thinking about buying a new house. And when their friends ask for recommendations, you want to be the first thing that pops up in a conversation.
And that’s exactly what brand awareness aims to do. You want to get in front of your target audience enough that you start establishing awareness, gain their trust, and become THE company they associate with your industry.
How to Build Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is built upon the right mix of strategies that guide your marketing efforts towards the right people in the right ways. You want them to know who you are, and know what you’re about—without even realizing that they’ve been marketed to.
1. Start a Referral Program
You can’t expect your business to build brand awareness just by sitting around and hoping for the best. You need to have a strategy in place that focuses on getting your customers to do the marketing for you.
When people like your product or service, they’ll be happy enough to refer their friends or family members. When they do so, you can reward them with a promotion, discount, etc. This creates a system where word-of-mouth is always working in your favor!
2. Establish Expertise Through Guest Posting
Guest posting is a technique that focuses your brand awareness by connecting you to the right audiences and helping them get to know you. It’s a great way to establish yourself in the eyes of people who visit blogs.
And it’s simple, too! Just find blogs in your industry and contact the owners. Offer to write a guest post for them. Send it over, let them review it, and then publish it.
But how exactly does this increase awareness?
Well, the owner of the blog is more likely to share your article with their followers—which means new eyes on your business! And they also might link to you from their blog or social media pages. This will bring in even more traffic.
On top of that, if it’s a reputable site with well-known writers, they’ve already done the hard work of building trust for you. Readers already trust these content creators, and by extension, their recommendations.
3. Start a Podcast
Podcasts are another great way to create brand awareness. They give you the opportunity to talk directly to your audience and establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
It’s a two-way conversation, so you’re in control of what kind of image you want them to have of you and your company.
You can share advice, tips, and stories that will let them develop a deeper connection with your brand. And they’ll also become exposed to all your other products/services.
On top of creating your own podcast, you can work with other creators to participate in interviews and guest appearances. This works much like guest posting and gets you in front of a bigger audience without having to build one from scratch!
4. Host Giveaways
Giveaways are an age-old tactic to get people to want what you have. And if it’s something they need or want, brand awareness is going to be a natural result.
How often do you read about businesses giving away their products and services for free? It’s one of the most common tactics we see on social media.
When they do so, they’re getting people talking about them and the product/service itself.
Consider co-hosting giveaways with companies who don’t directly compete with you, but have complementary products and services. The more companies you can get involved, the more eyes you can get on your business.
This is also a great way to get some traffic going to your website and social media channels.
5. Offer Discounts and Coupons
Incentives work on a couple of different levels.
First, you get people talking about you and your business. Second, you get them to visit your website, contact you for more information, and generally want to learn more about the products and services you offer.
After giving away your product or service for free or at a discounted price, consider offering something in return. That can be a free report of some sort or one-on-one consulting with you.
This also gives people a chance to try out your product at a lower cost. Price point is often one of the biggest objections when buying a product. Put their mind at ease by having a reasonable return policy and overcome objections by offering a great deal on your product.
6. Run a Contest
This one is a little different from the others, but there are enough similarities that it can still be used.
If you run giveaways regularly, consider holding contests around your products and services. These give you another opportunity to create brand awareness and connect with people who can help get the word out about your business.
Make it a picture contest and help generate content on social media! Just make sure to set clear terms about what you’re doing with the content, and whether you’re allowed to use their images on your website or other social channels.
7. Work With Influencers to Promote Your Brand
Influencers play a big role in social media marketing. They have built-in audiences and the ability to get your name out there in front of thousands of eyes.
Find influencers within your industry who have products or services that complement your offerings, and work with them to promote your business to their audience.
Yes, this is advertising! But it’s also a chance for you to establish yourself and gain trust with potential buyers more quickly.
8. Run an Ad Campaign
If you already have a product or service to sell, you should consider advertising it rather than giving it away for free. This helps people learn about it, and makes them more likely to purchase.
Consider running an ad campaign on social media platforms where you already have customers. This can include everything from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ads to Google Ads and even Pinterest ads.
You can also do Facebook Ad campaigns where your ads are targeted based on the types of pages your customers like.
9. Stay Active on Social Media
It’s no secret that you need to be active on social media to build your brand. You may think that you’ve built your following, but if people aren’t seeing your posts, they probably aren’t seeing your products and services.
People check their feeds every hour or so, so make sure you’re posting at least a few times a day, especially on platforms like Twitter. Don’t just post in the morning and expect people to check back in during the day. Make time for these posts and make them count!
Post once a day to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Busy platforms like Twitter might require a little more frequency, as it’s common to see accounts posting ten or more times per day.
On both Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s good to seek out threads relevant to your industry and join in these conversations. Engage with your business account, as well as any relevant personal/writer accounts.
10. Create Brand Images and Infographics
Everyone loves a good visual, and infographics are even better. However, creating infographics can be complicated. Luckily, you can easily outsource this task to designers on platforms like Fiverr.
Find a designer who offers the type of infographic that fits your needs and request a quote. Once you have your price, you’ll be able to create an infographic that is bound to attract traffic and gain shares.
You can also find sites relevant to your business and encourage them to share your infographics on your blog, as long as they give you credit and link back to your site.
11. Offer “Freemium” Versions of Your Product or Service
A lot of product and service companies do this. They provide a free version that generally has advertisements, or perhaps some other undesirable UI elements. But they then provide a premium version that is “freemium” to make the money back on advertising.
Freemium products are fine as long as they do not tread on the brand equity of the freemium product’s parent company and do not use automated spam to get users in their service.
This is a great way to let people try out your product and get an idea of how things work before buying in. It can be a bit difficult to decide how much to offer in the free version, without undermining your efforts to deliver a quality paid product.
Obviously, this won’t work for all businesses. But if this makes sense and works for the way you deliver products and services, give it a try! This can be a great way to build your audience in your early stages.
12. Sponsor Local Events
Sponsoring local events is a great way to get your name out there without investing a ton of money in advertising. People will be happy to see a familiar face, and the more times they see you, the more comfortable they’ll be buying from you.
You can even offer discounts or prizes on social media when people mention that you’re sponsoring an event in their area. That will give people something to talk about and get others interested in your business.
Work with your local radio stations, schools, libraries, and chamber of commerce to find events to sponsor. Local chambers are often a great place to start because they can introduce you to event organizers and other important connections.
13. Consider Brand Partnerships
Sometimes, working with other brands can be a great way to boost awareness of your brand. Although many companies have slightly different approaches to how they market themselves, here are a few things that you should know.
The first thing you should think about when considering partnerships is whether the other company can help you in some way. Not every company wants to be involved in your marketing plan, so it’s important to get to know them before making arrangements.
Next, you need to know whether they can help you increase brand awareness or sales.
Brand partnerships can be for a variety of reasons. You could be looking to connect your name with another company’s product/service line or you could be working with a brand because of the revenue that comes from it.
You should also think about how much of an advantage you’re getting from the partnership. Sometimes, companies offer affiliate sales or other benefits in return for your support, but this won’t work for every business!
14. Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Brand Awareness
There are a few different ways to accomplish this, but SEO is still one of the best ways to gain brand awareness. This involves search engine optimization techniques like creating quality content, writing blog posts that rank well, and so on.
Even if you don’t have your own blog (yet), you can make use of the numerous websites that share original content for free. This is how you can get in front of the most number of viewers possible without spending tons of time and energy trying to promote yourself online.
Some companies utilize Medium for their blogs, taking advantage of their reputation and the fact that they already have an established audience. Compared to starting your own blog, this might be an easier way to get more traffic until you can get your blog off the ground.
Examples of Brand Awareness
Here are a couple of examples of how businesses are using brand awareness to promote their products and services.
Patagonia: Patagonia is a company with a strong brand reputation, and they’re not shy about promoting it. They host various events and donate money to various causes relevant to their customer base.
But they’re also one of the companies who tend to give away their product for free (giveaways) or at a discounted rate.
They continue to put their brand front and center, and even when people buy the product, their name is on it.
They also have a strong presence on social media (particularly Instagram) with recognizable photos and a decent following. You’ll find plenty of audience-generated content (mostly people hiking, spending time outdoors, or showing off their gear) using brand-relevant hashtags.
Apple: While this well-known tech company has really broadened the idea of who their target audience is, Apple was marketed to a very specific demographic and didn’t compromise by trying to please everyone.
They had a clear image of who they were as a company and what they wanted their products to look like. There was definitely a clear vision that brought the company to where they are today, and made it one of the most recognizable tech companies.
When someone can relate themselves to a specific company and associate their interests and values with them, that’s when you know you’ve done something right! You want to be the kind of company that makes people want to say, “Yeah, I’m an X company kinda person.”
How to Measure Brand Awareness
While brand awareness isn’t the easiest thing to measure, it’s not impossible.
You can work with third-party survey companies to survey people in your target areas, or send out your own surveys to customers to learn more about how they found you.
Check out your website traffic. How much of your traffic is from referrals and direct traffic? What blogs are talking about your products?
Track your branded keywords and see how many times people search for keywords related to your company every month. You can also track this through Google Analytics.
Social monitoring is another critical piece of the puzzle. People often talk about their favorite products (and not-so-favorite products) on social media and their personal blogs. You can use monitoring tools like Sprout Social, Talkwalker, Hootsuite, and Google Alerts to see who’s talking about you!
Brand awareness is not something that can happen overnight. The important thing is to take baby steps and stay consistent. Make sure you’re always delivering value, entertaining, and offering experiences that help people remember you.
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