I recently looked at data from a survey conducted in December 2015 of more than 1,000 small businesses across the U.S. regarding their use of digital marketing. Respondents were asked to list their top digital marketing goals, and priorities, which also reveals some challenges. The results clearly showed me what small business owners hope to achieve with their marketing in 2016; first sales but after that growing brand awareness or conveying information.
The ultimate goal of any business is to gain more trust with current clients and achieve better brand awareness among the target audience.
Mapping The Customer Awareness Journey
One of the hardest things for many small business owners to do is to put themselves in the shoes of prospective customers long before that customer is aware that you have the answer.
We often want to convince people we can solve problems they don’t even know they have.
In order to effectively increase brand awareness you must fully understand the questions your prospects are asking themselves before they are aware that you or your solutions exist.
For example, if you sell websites, you must start to increase awareness through your marketing to prospects, not by explaining how great your websites are, but by addressing ways that businesses can build a stronger case for industry expertise, attract more customers and make it easier for customers to find the information they need — all great uses of websites by the way.
5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Increase Brand Awareness
At the awareness stage, your prospective leads aren’t doing research with the intention of purchasing anything from you. Instead, they’re simply looking for answers, entertainment, or information! Approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy.
And that’s exactly why, at the early stages of the customer’s journey, you create content that is educational and useful.
Examples of educational content:
- 7 Things to Check BEFORE Calling For Appliance Service
- Top 5 Website Problems and Solutions
- How to Guarantee You Never Suffer By Hiring the Wrong Handyman
- Free Ebook: How to Master Small Business Marketing in 10 Days
- What Every Senior Must Know About Obama’s Health Care Changes
- 13 Things Your Pediatrician Won’t Tell You
- How to Eat Anything and Lose Weight
- 101 More Things You Can Eat to Slim Down
- The 3-Step Process to Selling Your Home Faster
- How to Win the Home Bidding War
- 7 Things That Cost You When Buying a Home
- The Ultimate Tip Sheet for Tipping Your Movers?
You lure them in, with the hopes that when they are ready to buy, they’ll think of your business.
To get this content in front of eyeballs, SEO and social media marketing play a huge part.
Your ads may be the first way someone is introduced to your business. Advertising is looked at by most as a tool to create overall awareness. This approach can in fact be a benefit to small business owners, if the message is right, if the awareness that is created, spells out a benefit. More often then not awareness advertising seems to be an attempt to win advertising awards instead of new customers.
The point is that the most effective form of advertising for the small business does sell — not a product a service, but an action. A call to pick up the phone, visit your website, leave a business card, or send an email to get something of value. To begin a relationship with the advertiser.
The good news about this approach to advertising is that you don’t need clever copy, gorgeous models or full pages. You only need a very strong offer targeted at the right audience. Sell permission to educate your prospect and you will find that advertising does indeed increase brand awareness quite well.
#3. Marketing materials
Don’t forget marketing materials that can be downloaded online to help tell your story and increase brand awareness in more tactile ways.
Do you know why most marketing materials fail? Because first they are sales materials. . .written to convince someone to buy. Guess what, nobody wants to be sold anything.
Really effective small marketing materials educate the prospects by showing them solutions, allowing them to see themselves building a relationship with your firm, demonstrating knowledge and expertise, showing past successes and the like.
Awareness and trust are it for the real world business owners and unless you’ve got unlimited cash laying around to buy unlimited ads on a million channels, you better get down in the trenches and map out how to educate first, sell later.
#4. Social Networking
Simply put social networking on sites such as LinkedIn or Quora are excellent ways to increase brand awareness. It will allow you and/or your team to answer questions and meet prospects in the industry. Instead of going to these sites with the sole intention of selling your products, try to educate and connect with these people on a personal level.
#5. Social Media
Social media is incredibly helpful in first introducing your customers to your business or product. Being active on social media, especially LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ can help your SEO ranks. Often, social media channels will show up high on any local search. Frequently use keywords for which you want to show up in searches, and you can improve your search engine rankings in those keywords.
In addition, social media advertising has become more effective over the years. You can target potential customers based on interest, who they follow or like, even location getting your brand/product or service in front of more of your ideal clients.
The overall theme of this post is to question whether or not you are driving value that goes beyond the products and services you sell. That is the essence of a increasing brand awareness today, and I hope you’re applying it to your brand awareness efforts.
In other words, in many cases how you sell is more important than what you sell.