Brand awareness is a foggy concept for many business owners. They prefer launching tons of lead generation and sales campaigns, but they hardly ever think of the importance of simply being in front of their target audience’s eyes. Brand awareness is difficult to measure, and therefore, they prefer to dismiss it.
Are you making the same mistake?
There are millions of businesses that want to sell something to your target audience every day. Each of them has something great to offer. There’s no more a problem to find the right product or service for customers—there’s a problem to choose one from the number of similar offers within one price range. But when there’s one company that a customer has already heard of on the list, it’s no doubt they’ll pick it. After all, it’s called having good PR.
So how do you build brand awareness for your small business and ensure your prospects choose you? This is what you’ll find out if you read on.
In case you aren’t proficient with terminology yet, let me explain what brand awareness is.
Brand awareness is simply a marketing concept that describes how well prospective customers recognize a product or service.
In other words, if you succeed in establishing brand awareness, you’re sure that your target audience knows about your company and what it does.
Brand awareness is your competitive advantage over other businesses. What are the other benefits of established brand awareness for a small business?
- The more often people see your brand mentions, the more credible you seem to them.
- Brand awareness fosters word-of-mouth marketing and helps you reach new people effortlessly.
- Successful branding reinforces customer loyalty and increases repeat purchases.
All these benefits won’t appear overnight, but if you manage to build a consistent strategy and stick to it, you can expect great results in the next few months.
Now, it’s time to tell you about our favorite strategies for boosting brand recognition. There are six of them:
- Combine content marketing with PR
- Keep distributing your content
- Collaborate with other businesses
- Build a strong social media presence
- Participate in events
- Launch a referral program
Most of the following techniques are free or don’t require spending a fortune, which I know is important for small businesses.
1. Combine content marketing with PR.
In the digital era, the best way to increase your brand awareness is by building an online presence. And how do you achieve that? Content is the answer.
Content is everywhere. When you want to cook something fancy for dinner, you’ll most likely be searching for recipes on Google. Or you might have already bookmarked a few ideas from your favorite food blog. Whatever option works best for you, it’s all about online content.
And what’s exactly content marketing?
Content marketing is an approach focused on creating and distributing content (text-based, video, image, etc.) to attract and retain your target audience.
Unlike revenue-driven strategies, the key idea of content marketing that’s focused on building brand awareness is delivering content created with your target audience in mind. Your texts, videos, or other assets should address your prospects’ pain points in the first place.
Let’s quickly go through major tactics that involve content.
Here’s an example of “brand awareness 101”: Say you offer meal kit delivery, as HelloFresh does. By starting a blog where you’ll share free recipes, you’ll catch the attention of people who cook at home and might be happy to get rid of this routine.
Videos or podcasts
Blogging isn’t the only form of content marketing. You might also want to run a channel on YouTube or host podcasts.
It might seem that these options work only for influencers with a crazy number of followers. On YouTube, you can find lots of tutorials in various categories. Do you offer roofing services? Videos with the best roofing practices will help you build brand awareness among the most relevant audiences. Another great example of a brand awareness campaign.
Press releases and newsrooms wouldn’t exist without content, right? With this in mind, it turns out that content marketing and PR are inseparable.
PR is a powerful strategy for getting your brand noticed. Brands pay for getting mentions by reputable media outlets, and with a well-thought-out PR strategy, every penny spent on this initiative will pay off.
If you own or work for a local business, you might want to partner with smaller publishers popular in your area.
With Prowly, you don’t need to search for the relevant PR contacts for months. The tool gives you access to over a million media contacts filtered by topics, job roles, outlets, and location. And that’s not the only feature that you can use for your PR efforts.
2. Distribute your content.
Although content marketing and PR imply content distribution, we think the latter deserves a dedicated section.
The world’s best content makes no sense if nobody sees it. You can expect that your blog posts will get picked up in Google’s organic rankings, but chances that it happens without you building links and distributing your content are little.
Here are top techniques that proved successful for us at Joinative and our clients.
As has been said, blog content doesn’t start ranking on the first page just because it’s good. If you want your posts to get traffic from search engines, you’ll need to spend some time optimizing it and building links.
By simply researching queries that your target audience might be typing in the search box and building your content around these keywords, you’ll be doing better than most of your competitors on the web. But to reach the first page of search results, you’ll need to get links to your domain and blog pages on other websites so that Google sees your content is valuable and can be trusted.
This approach is the most time-consuming, but it also delivers the best long-term results. Unlike other distribution methods, where you get traffic only when you invest your time and money into growing it, SEO doesn’t require your permanent commitment.
Growing traffic organically isn’t for everyone. Although it’s considered a ‘free’ technique, you still need to spend your own time or hire an expert who’ll help you reach your goals there.
In case you don’t want to invest in SEO but need to get eyes on your content, paid advertising is right for you. However, building brand awareness with paid social might be too costly. When it comes to advertising on Facebook, you should also be experienced enough to avoid account bans, which is a serious issue for your brand awareness campaign’s success.
Luckily, there’s an alternative. Native advertising is a more affordable and less restrictive advertising method. You can run your campaigns through one of the native ad platforms and have your ads displayed within the editorial content of news websites and online magazines, like Business Insider and The Atlantic.
Due to their form and feel, native ads are widely used for content promotion. As your content appears next to articles on the world’s best websites, it looks more credible and gets more attention.
Explore “niche” channels
Do you know your audience isn’t only on Facebook and Instagram? Depending on your niche, you can reach your prospects in Slack communities, on Quora, Reddit, Pinterest, or any other network based on people’s interests.
By answering questions on Quora or hosting AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions on Reddit, you’ll increase brand exposure for free. Mind that audiences on these channels will recognize hard-sell easily, so to avoid creating negative brand perception, you’d better focus on providing value rather than promoting your brand.
Some of these communities also allow advertising, which is the golden mean for businesses that want to reach exclusive audiences without taking extra effort to blend in.
Collaborative branding is an extremely productive technique for small businesses.
Establish co-branding partnerships
Cross-promotion allows you to reach your partner’s audience, explore new market opportunities, and grow your business.
Are there any companies that you could mutually benefit from partnering together? If you establish a win-win partnership, you can promote your business for free.
When someone joins our local gym, they also get a bunch of gift cards for beauty salons, cafes, and coffee shops. It’s not something that boosts sales overnight, but such a partnership is the best way to increase brand awareness for local businesses.
Work with local influencers
Haven’t you considered influencer marketing yet? You should.
This collaboration will not only help you build brand awareness but also boost trust and conversions.
You might have already had an idea of what kind of influencers or niche experts you could partner with, so it’s the right time to reach out to them. If you aren’t sure how to find reliable contacts, you can go with an influencer marketing platform.
4. Build a strong social media presence.
To build a strong awareness of your brand, you’ve got to socialize. And what’s a better way to do so than being active on social media?
Unfortunately, simply posting content regularly via social media tools won’t help. Users’ feeds are already filled with hundreds of accounts, and boring branded content will by no means catch their attention.
Good news – we know how to cut through the clutter on social media:
- Interact with your audience. Posting something on your account isn’t enough. Communicate with your followers by asking questions, commenting on their posts, etc.
- Encourage user-generated content. Host contests, giveaways, or flashmobs to incentivize your audience to produce and share content related to your brand.
- Have active personal accounts. Your personal and company employees’ activity on social media is the most impactful way to advocate for your business. Sometimes, you don’t even need to run a company account if you have a strong personal brand with active followers.
5. Participate in events.
Participate in events that match your brand values and aesthetics. Getting involved in local partnerships as well as online initiatives will do big things for your brand.
Hosting or sponsoring events allows you to put your brand name in front of hundreds or thousands of pairs of eyes.
Today, most events take place online. This means that you have way more opportunities to promote your business than ever before.
To get wider coverage, partner with other businesses to co-host online events.
6. Launch a referral program.
The best advocates of your brand are your loyal customers. By launching a referral program, you’ll not only retain these customers but also encourage them to do word-of-mouth marketing for your company.
Offering currently engaged customers incentives to tell their friends and family about your products or services won’t cost a lot for you. But this is the perfect way to boost your brand awareness and even sales on a minimal budget.
With these brand awareness tips, your small business will grow in no time. Whether you start by picking one strategy or a few at once, make sure that you take consistent steps and don’t drop it halfway through.