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Most businesses can agree that getting their name out there is a nice goal to have. In fact, it’s the reason people run marketing campaigns.
We are in the business of increasing word of mouth and helping businesses grow. But we know there are a variety of things businesses do to achieve this and we know that there are other channels for building awareness for a business. Whether it be using social media to increase brand awareness or a brand mention tool.
So we created a survey to help us understand what other marketers choose to build their brand awareness and how they track that measurement.
First, we’ll cover a couple of interesting findings, and then we will dive into the advice our marketers shared with us.
The main takeaways we found for brand awareness
For this particular survey, we asked a few short questions, a couple of them were multiple-choice options, we had a scale rating section, and lastly our short answer question.
Here are the things we wanted to know.
- What content types helped brands build the most amount of brand awareness.
- What tools people used to measure the impact of their brand awareness.
- What content types have proven to be more cost-effective in building brand awareness.
Now, based on the data we collected, here are our most interesting findings.
Rating brand awareness strategies: Customer service is the most effective
Our survey asked marketers to rate strategies for building brand awareness on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning least effective and 5 meaning most effective. Here’s the full breakdown.
What was the most effective strategy, according to the ratings? Providing superior customer service: it was rated 4.41 out of 5. Taking second was SEO, with a rating of 4.3.
Rounding out the top 5 were “being original compared to competitors” (rating of 4.28), “brand messaging with unique personality” (rating of 4.27), and a focus on providing superior products (rating of 4.22).
Building brand awareness is all about developing a customer-centric strategy: putting the customer first in everything you do. Never underestimate the tried-and-true keys to being an awesome brand: superior products that stand out, and, most of all, stellar customer service. For more customer service tips, be sure to check out our linked article.
Influencer marketing is untapped
Almost everyone agrees that SEO is incredibly important to brand awareness. In addition, more people are doing search engine optimization than any other strategy, with 68% of respondents saying that SEO is one of their most effective ways to generate brand awareness. That may not come as much of a surprise, given the ubiquity of search and the long-term benefits and cost-effectiveness of quality SEO.
What is a major surprise is the difference in the view towards influencers as a quality strategy to build brand awareness and the number of businesses that are actually using influencers.
Influencers are ranked, on average, at a 3.77 out of 5 for effectiveness in building brand awareness by respondents.
For reference, that ranking puts it above both paid campaigns (3.55) and a brand’s use of visual design, logo, and fonts (3.51).
However, only 7% of respondents named influencer campaigns as a prime strategy to grow brand awareness. In addition, influencer programs tied for 5th most cost-effective out of 13 brand awareness strategies, ahead of podcasts, ebooks, and webinars & events, and tying with videos.
Modern influencer marketing is effective but is still a largely untapped strategy. Referral and/or affiliate software is a great way to start a dedicated influencer marketing strategy.
Many marketers are passive with their brand awareness strategy
What brand awareness tools are people using? By far the most popular tool that respondents use for brand awareness is good old Google Alerts.
84 of our 90 respondents – 93% – have Google Alerts set up for their brand.
Hootsuite is in a far second, with 26% of respondents saying they use the well-known social media management and post scheduling software. Mention, which is like Google Alerts on steroids, is in third with a user base comprised of roughly 14% of respondents. Ahrefs and Klout came fourth and fifth, at 9% and 8% respectively.
One takeaway is the over-reliance of “passive” brand awareness software. Based on responses, it seems more business owners and marketers wait for their brand to be mentioned and then likely jump in, instead of using software that helps spark word-of-mouth around the brand.
While there are many software solutions to active promotion and management of on-brand conversations, one of the best ways to get people talking is with an influencer, referral, and/or affiliate software.
Of those that are using active brand awareness software, there is no clear winner for B2B or B2C, with both types of companies finding successful ways to actively drive conversations and awareness of their brand.
SEO was rated the most cost-effective
We asked the marketers, “In your experience, what are the most cost-effective content types for building brand awareness?” We provided 13 options, with one being a fill in the blank. Marketers picked their top 3 most cost-effective strategies.
53 of the 90 marketers (59%) mentioned that SEO was the most cost-effective content types for building brand awareness.
Blog posts on one’s own site came in second for cost-effectiveness, with 53% of marketers naming them. Fittingly, their counterpart, guest posts on other sites came in third, at 41%. PR was fourth on the list, at 36%.
Referral programs ended up in the bottom half of the list when it comes to our respondents’ views towards brand awareness strategies cost-effectiveness.
Most industries can agree that SEO is powerful. In fact, 20+ different industries consider SEO to provide them with the best bang for their buck.
The 12 things marketers credit to building brand awareness
Our marketing friends had a lot to say. As mentioned we asked them an open-ended question, so that we could truly get down to the nitty-gritty and learn what tricks others have done to increase their brand awareness.
We wanted to know about a particular strategy that they feel has attributed to building brand awareness, or a strategy they have seen others try.
We received a variety of responses, so to make things easier we have split up answers based on commonalities. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Use the right tools to build brand awareness
The right toolset might be exactly what you need to harness yourself as an industry thought leader. In fact, relying on a good set of tools can help you perform consistently and get noticed in the long run.
Phil Nottingham from Wistia told us, “We leverage our position as an industry leader and both the tools and data we have access to, generating insights that provide clarity to difficult questions. For example, there’s been a lot of confusion regarding the best way to spend on video marketing. We performed a detailed advertising experiment using video budgets of $1,000, $10,000, and $100,000 to figure out what performs best and showed that $10,000 works (even $1,000 can be successful)… it’s more of a matter of the story you tell. Not everyone could afford such a project, and we used our expertise to design the experiment strategically so we could actually adhere to the budgets.”
Says Natalie Athanasiadis of Ormi Media, “Facebook Groups at the beginning of our business really got us in front of our key audience of business owners looking to drive momentum with digital marketing. We also were able to connect with additional journalists in large publications which were not only beneficial to our brand but to our clients as well.”
Doug Mitchell from Ogletree Financial shares, “Educational workshops for our agents have been a major contributor to our business. We offer tools and training at the workshops that help them to sell more business.”
Matthew Ross of The Slumber Yard tells us, “We create helpful, genuine YouTube videos to attract viewers, generate buzz and drive traffic. As you’re probably aware, YouTube is owned by Google and as a result, Google increasingly places videos on the first page in search results. Given this, if you create a video that is relevant to the audience you’re targeting, you can get in front of a lot of potential customers that are searching for related services or products. Essentially, we create videos that address adjacent topics that are highly searched and then we attract viewers, we pitch our website (in a natural, non-promotional manner) to drive traffic and spread brand awareness.”
2. Creating interesting and useful content can give you a big boost
Many businesses offer a blog or additional resources to their customers because it helps establish them in their space and niche. By creating quality resources, you make yourself known as an authority figure, which creates trust. Plus, more content makes it easy for people to find you!
Brian Gill of Gillware attests, “We’ve seen tremendous results from the robust content marketing strategy we implemented for our blog. I, along with a team of writers that I manage, provide well-researched and thought out blog posts that our audience finds valuable. We stay on top of trending news and try to answer questions that our readers might have. We go into great detail to provide as much information as possible. Our blog serves as a comprehensive guide to data recovery and digital forensics, and all the complex pieces that comprise it. Aside from our blog, we create thought leadership pieces for other publications as well, collaborating with another thought leader.”
Elena Vinokurtseva of YouScan uses “Publication cases with celebrities. We are the SML service, so we cover social media monitoring stories (memes, flash-mobs, fests) with celebrity participation and analyze them. This helps with both PR and SEO.”
Kris Hughes from ProjectManager.com shares, “A focus on the development and distribution of free content as the primary driver of our marketing strategy has been very successful. We provide website visitors the opportunity to download free templates to aid in their project management, from to-do lists, to work schedules, project plans, timesheets, and project charters.
To download these templates, the visitor must provide an email address and opt into our email marketing. We also publish five new weekly blog articles and videos each week about relevant topics in the project management industry, helping to develop organic traffic and overall brand presence.”
Says Allen Michael from SawsHub.com,“We use citations from large, well-known, trusted brands. These can be used to gain awareness and authority throughout the life of the business.”
Theo Ellis of Anime Motivation reports, “I wouldn’t say my strategy is unique, but it’s more like “different to what everybody else is doing”. That and content marketing, having content go out on a daily basis and using platforms like Pinterest and Quora. Brand awareness accelerated after publishing daily. And with the help of platforms like Pinterest and Quora, which are underused in my industry, this helped massively.
It also helps if your content has a unique angle. If you can do that, it’s amazing what it can do in terms of awareness, to the point of having branded keywords show up in Google and other search engines.”
3. Promoting your content is key to getting your name out there
Without a bit of promotion, the content that you worked so hard on might not be seen. If you’re not working on pushing it out there, you risk missing out on potential leads, and your brand has a high chance at falling under the radar.
Jay Perkins of Kettlebell Kings shares, “Content promotion has been a huge part of our branding strategy for the past three years. We sell kettlebells online and the single biggest way we have built our presence is through paid ads to content pages about different kettlebell movements, expert advice and signing up for weekly workouts to receive in your email inbox. By being able to target people who are interested in ‘kettlebells’ on social media we are able to get new leads into our workflows at about $1 per lead.”
Jomel Alos of Spiralytics attests, “Doing HARO has benefited us a lot. Apart from gaining links, which help our SEO/ ranking and establishing our authority in digital marketing, it has given us a couple of quality leads.”
Eric Anderson from ElMejorTrato shares, “Ten years ago, the company was very small, with only a few clients and a website with very few visits. Today, it has millions of users from different parts of the world!
We always focus on innovating our work techniques both in the office and for the market. We realized that we had something big and a lot to share. Then we began to make more emphasis on PR tactics: we communicated with very important newspapers and magazines, nationally and internationally, and got them to publish our quality content. But we do not remain exclusively with it: we also communicate with the media of other countries and we achieve more and more influence.”
Says Alayna Pehrson from Best Company, “I have recently started incorporating several expert sources (usually around 10) in each article I write for BestCompany.com. To get these expert sources for each article, I generally submit a query through HARO (Help A Reporter Out). After the article is written and published on our site, I email the experts and let them know that they were quoted in my article. In the same email, I ask them to share the article on social media and ask them if they would mind sharing the article on their websites as well. This has helped build brand awareness as some experts have really high traffic site numbers and prominent social media presence.”
Alistair Dodds of Smoking Chili Media reports, “We wrote an ebook on optimizing for Google local search that was published on Amazon Kindle. It has acted as a great piece of social proof with new prospective clients and helped create brand awareness amongst the readership.
This, in turn, has led to speaking and guest posting opportunities which further enhance brand awareness. So the ROI on time/investment spent on creating the content has more than paid for itself in terms of new business inquiries.”
4. Run a special campaign to push your business out there
How advertising increases brand awareness? There is a reason why people use ads and paid campaigns… because they work. Especially in today’s world where thousands of potential leads can see you on social media. Of course, campaigns don’t have to be limited to ads, and don’t even have to be paid. If you push the right content, you may just find your brand awareness will skyrocket.
Says Victor Bilandzic from motava, “We’ve run large-scale outreach programs to influencers asking for an expert quote for articles. From those that reply, we’ve nurtured into referral programs, ad placements on websites they are affiliated with, and other partnerships. This has lead to mentions on authoritative websites and publications. For one particular instance, a publication mention gets brought up to the company on a weekly basis by potential customers.”
Angela Ash from Flow SEO tells us, “We take full advantage of harnessing the power of HARO (Help a Reporter Out) regularly. By simply providing a quote for an article, a backlink is provided. There is no more cost-efficient way to receive placement on high-traffic sites. Additionally, the brand awareness that it builds sets up your company as an expert in the field, with knowledge on a variety of related topics.”
Says Jane Prizer of Hausera, “I still think reaching out to larger blogs in your industry and inquiring about writing or contributing to a guest post is a great way to initially expose consumers to your brand. Once enough people have gained a sense of familiarity with what your company does, then maintaining high-quality social media channels serve as a great first impression for followers and potential customers. Low-quality blog and social media content give off the impression that a company is behind with the times, and I truly believe keeping up with trends is essential to business growth. Resistance to new business trends rarely works out favorably.”
Jonathan Alonso of CNC Machines recommends, “Giving back to your industry and using PR to push that message. Within a span of a quarter, we grew sales 22% based on investing in these two programs.”
Nate Masterson from Maple Holistics shares, “We ran a massive free sample program that proved to be a huge stepping stone for our overall brand recognition. Word quickly spread and we were receiving a huge influx of traffic to our site’s free sample page, which did wonders for our SEO campaign. Additionally, consumers responded positively to our efforts to let them try our products before buying them. Besides, for brand awareness, this helped establish trust in the consumers which is incalculable.”
Jake Lane of Nubrakes Mobile Brake Repair attests,” Brand awareness is all about frequency. We look to hit at least a frequency of 3 with our brand awareness campaigns to help drive brand recall so that when a potential customer needs our services we will be top of mind. One of our most recent campaigns that has helped increase brand awareness and recall is radio. We measure branded term increases via Google Search console as well as website user counts at the time of each of our radio commercials via Google Analytics to help measure branded lift and conversions.”
Colin Ma from Nimble Made shares, “I have been leading Nimble Made’s Digital Marketing efforts and am implementing a technique I call Publication Step Ladder (PSL). The goal of PSL is to start getting publicity with small publications, which you leverage to eventually get publicity with large brands that everybody has heard of. We successfully implemented PSL, starting with local papers until we eventually got featured by Huffington Post. Not only did this drastically help the SEO strategy, but brand searches and digital mentions increased by 30% while sales that month were 200% higher than in previous months. Additionally, we have been featured in numerous other publications since then.”
Nikola Baldikov of Brosix shares, “We recently participated in a “product hunt” on Producthunt.com for our enterprise instant messaging app. If you’re a company offering tech products, this is one of the best ways to improve brand awareness. We made our product hunt a community effort, as getting our customers to share their real experience with our product was crucial for us. We created a series of emails to reach out to our community and explain why this effort was so important to us. We also wanted to give back, so we arranged for reviewers to receive some small compensation in the form of Amazon gift cards for taking the time to leave their detailed and honest reviews. All of this brought us great exposure.”
5. Put in the work and use SEO strategies
How to use SEO to raise brand awareness? We all know how important SEO is for your business. One of the main reasons it’s important is because it can help you get your name out there. With this, a little elbow grease can go a long way. If you are consistently working on your SEO and creating content you have the potential to build your brand awareness.
Winston Nguyen from Bitfalls shares, “We have a unique approach to SEO. We build up our domain authority which helps us rank higher on Google. Then after conducting keyword research, we find the lowest competition keywords and write articles about those. Plenty of publications have picked up on our articles and written or linked to us naturally including some large publications.”
Amy Hernandez of ElectrIQ Marketing reports, “ElectrIQ Marketing conducted a successful campaign to increase organic traffic revenue for the client Gindo’s Spice of Life. This was done by optimizing content already on their website and doing competitor and keyword research to identify other potential keywords to drive site traffic with targeted content creation. This was followed by a deep-dive technical SEO audit to ensure full compliance with Google Webmaster Guidelines and of course a comprehensive PR outreach plan which helped generate brand awareness and backlinks to the website. These tactics helped increase Gindo’s keyword rankings by 80%, website visitation by 93%, organic transactions by 115% and organic revenue by 176%.”
Charlie Brook from Photoslurp reports, “I recently built 2 “hub pages”, which are an important tool for gaining high ranks in SEO. It’s a model that truly connects your content in a way that points your website to your high-impact keywords, and it’s been really successful in gaining us crucial SEO traffic. This kind of traffic is much more reliable and stable than the traffic that comes from one activation.”
Cristian Rennella of ElMejorTrato recommends, “Answer the questions of your users as an expert! This helped us to grow by 34.7%, which today represents revenue of USD 3.4M per year.
We receive more than 50 online queries per week on different aspects of our service, but the vast majority are general questions, that the answer will not only help that user, but hundreds or thousands of people who have the same question.
This response is published on our site as if it were a post on our blog. Then Google or any other search engine indexes this content and new potential customers can find our answer. As the answer was valuable, these new customers take our brand as a reference.”
Jimmy Chan of Pixelicious shares, “I learned this from a very wise SEO practitioner: write on your blog and no one will read it; write on someone else’s blog and you earn reputation, which drives SEO.
Although I do write content for my own site, they are meant to enhance conversion more than anything. I spend more time performing outreach and guest blogging for other authoritative sites. The bottom line is that backlinks still matter for SEO, especially in competitive niches.”
6. Think outside the box when it comes to your content
How do you optimize your brand awareness? Most businesses have a blog, but not all dive into other content channels. There is a whole other world out there, that gets people excited and interested in what you do. Webinars, classes, events, ebooks, you get the point. By having different types of content to offer, you may hit into a new channel you were previously missing out on.
Alyssa Mariano of Kingspan attests, “I’ve seen the most value in building brand awareness with organizing events and webinars. Our most successful event this year was a seminar with industry leaders as speakers on relevant topics. We invited 300 of our clients and customers to the event. The event helped us reach our goal of building brand awareness and positioning our brand in the market as a leader in certain topics, and we saw a substantial return on investment.”
Hamna Amjad from SIA Enterprises tells us, “I think one thing that really has helped us in creating brand awareness for SIA Enterprises is starting our own podcast show, “The SIA Business Podcast” with Syed Irfan Ajmal. Having your own podcast not only helps in building your brand but also helps in developing relationships with other experts in your industry. Besides interviewing other experts you can also answer the most frequently asked questions about your field. Pack your podcast with a lot of information and highly relevant content to engage your listeners. This would further strengthen your relationship with your audience and also help in building trust.”
Says Rio Rocket, “Creating episodic content or content in a consistent series is what helped build my brand awareness on social media. This is obvious in the case of television and streaming series but works just as well with social media videos and postings. Currently, I am running a series on my Instagram @TheRioRocket titled the “FLEX Series” which is a video series of animated photos with an original musical score created by me. My following has grown over 12K since the series began and the response has been incredibly positive. Episodic content not only grows subscriber bases but dramatically increases follower retention.”
Michelle Ngome of Line 25 Consulting names “Podcasting – Starting my show Networking With Michelle, which has 185+ episodes. In addition, being a guest on over 50 episodes of other podcast shows.”
Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls advises, “Social media and technology are 24/7 so it is easy to get sucked into it but you do not have to let it run your life! My advice is to pick a few things you enjoy doing and do them really well. You cannot be everywhere all the time so choose high impact activities that work for you and play to your strengths.
For example, Thought Leadership is a great way to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients/customers. Activities like speaking at a conference, writing articles, building your following on social media all contribute to increasing your awareness!”
Marly McMillen of Namely Marly tells us, “I started a podcast to help get my voice out there with my audience. The equipment was affordable and I took the opportunity to interview leaders in my industry. In addition, I’ve spent more time developing quality content to help deliver the best to my audience.”
Mark Armstrong of Mark Armstrong Illustration tells us, “I’m participating in Twitter chats on content marketing, social media, and related subjects. A Twitter chat is a live hour of conversation on Twitter. A host asks questions, and there’s usually a guest expert. Participants answer the questions and engage with one another.
Chats are a way to connect with like-minded people from around the world. You always learn something new. They’re also a way to demonstrate your expertise and get noticed. They’re fast-moving, but you can always scroll through the tweets after the chat is over to review any tips you might have missed. Twitter Chats allow you to boost brand awareness and network at the same time.”
Kenneth Burke from Text Request recommends, “Speaking at community events. This is something we’ve just recently started, but the reception has been great so far. We’re an online software, which means we focus on industries over location. But speaking at local events (e.g. Startup Week, Chamber events, etc.) does several things. It introduces us to new people we probably wouldn’t reach otherwise. It allows us to add value to those people, which is great for them. And it gets us in their minds – they remember ‘I saw Text Request and I enjoyed that.’ ”
7. Use all channels and relationships to maximum campaign exposure
Often times a marketing campaign will run through multiple channels to reach a variety of different audiences. This works because you may have different customers in different stages in the buying process, on-boarding process, etc.
Andrei Vasilescu from DontPayFull reports, “We have consistently published about the special features of our online discount coupons in every kind of promotional campaigns we made. Through all our marketing channels we restlessly told our audience that our online coupons can most effectively save their money while purchasing international products.”
Yaniv Masjedi of Nextiva advises, “You can go broad or deep with your brand awareness efforts, and an ideal strategy will include some of both. We’re active with our content efforts and on social media to reach as many people as we can. But we also appear at conferences, on podcasts, and at events in the community. For example, I appeared with Eric Siu at Marketing School Live earlier this year as a way to introduce our brand to a broader audience. Speaking at a conference doesn’t reach as many people as a well-optimized blog post, but the people we do reach have a much deeper understanding of who we are afterward.”
Ketan Kapoor from Mettl shares, “What has helped us greatly influence our brand awareness is Mettl’s $2000 Scholarship Program for Emerging Leaders. With our scholarship program, we are targeting students of US-based universities to reward emerging and upcoming leaders based on certain criteria. Since universities are one of our target audiences for one of our core products, it has already started to hugely impact our brand visibility and brand consciousness for Mettl. We ran a dedicated email campaign reaching to over 100 US universities requesting them to feature us on their university scholarship pages. And soon enough, with the help of listings, we got around 5000 applications.”
Patrick Holmes of Home Air Quality Guides tells us, “Answering questions on Quora that are related to air purifiers and indoor air quality have attributed greatly to our brand awareness. We make it a point to provide the best answers possible to help people and this has led to a lot of inbound website traffic. We are also consistently requested to answer questions by the Quora community which is increasing our brand trust in addition to awareness.”
Says David Reischer from LegalAdvice.com, “It’s important for us to highlight our domain name in all our marketing materials. This is especially true for our info-graphics that attempt to clarify complex legal topics.”
Liz Coffman of Riotly Social Media recommends, “The most important thing any brand can do, in my opinion, is to build quality relationships. In my most recent article, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Instagram Username,’ I discuss the various types of usernames, how to choose a type based on one’s social media goals, templates for each type as well as a checklist.
I wanted to offer real-life examples within my guide as an additional resource to my readers. So, I referenced and linked to the Instagram pages of several influencers who fit the bill. I emailed each influencer letting them know I had included them in my article and got a great response from all.”
8. Show that you care about others and your community
If you prove that you care about your customers, community, and those around you it makes it very easy for people to like and trust your business. This can also help you build your name and increase your brand awareness (for all the right reasons).
Jon Michail from Image Group International shares, “We are an emotion-oriented business with purpose. A few years ago we did a major social enterprise project with Juvenile Justice in Victoria, Australia coaching young inmates about the power of personal branding in society. On release from prison, they were encouraged to use their innate “entrepreneurial” skills for doing good in the community compared to being destructive as in the past.
It cemented our leading position as a personal branding company that not only cares about profits but also cares about helping people in our community beyond our normal target market of entrepreneurs, executives, and change-makers.”
Shaun Walker of HEROfarm tells us, “My company HEROfarm focuses on its social mission in all we do and is a huge part of our branding to show clients we’re about more than just the bottom line. We were even interviewed by Forbes on Corporate Social Responsibility. We founded HEROfarm with a simple philosophy: “Do great work for good people.” And we’ve discovered that when following this principle, everything else seems to fall into place.”
Nicolas Straut of Fundera reports, “One interesting strategy we’ve deployed to increase brand awareness is to launch a small business grant called the Zach Grant. This grant awards $2,500 to small business owners who record and post a video answering the question: “Why did you start your own business?”
Since its inception, this program has resulted in many posted videos and increased awareness of Fundera as a supporter of small businesses. Participating business owners also often learn about how Fundera helps small businesses and decide to use our marketplace to better understand and acquire financial solutions.”
Megan Wenzl of Clique Studios says, “We consistently support the community through education, meaningful relationships and doing good work. And our brand awareness grows in part because of our active participation in the community. It’s not easy. But it is the most important thing a business can do. As an example, here are some of the ways we support the Denver community (one of our main locations): We speak at Denver Startup Weeks and local meetups to share our knowledge. We also host a marketing leaders lunch each quarter, where marketing executives across all industries have an opportunity to listen to speakers with unique perspectives — attendees get actionable, real advice they can use.”
Jane Prizer of Hausera points to TOMS as a prime example of generating brand awareness through giving. Says Prizer, “My immediate thought goes to the campaign that TOMS shoes ran and continues to run their campaign in a way that puts a great deal of emphasis on charitable giving. They clearly advertise that for every pair of shoes that you buy from them, they will donate a pair to somebody in need. It’s not only their shoes either. Their entire brand image also revolves around their “One for One®” philosophy.”
Alex Membrillo of Cardinal SEO Company agrees, he also named TOMS as an example: “TOMS has set the standard for raising brand awareness by incorporating social responsibility into their for-profit business model. Their first product, shoes, was launched with a simple concept. When they sell a pair of shoes, a new pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child. Since launching, TOMS has given more than 96.5 million pairs of new shoes to children in need. TOMS has also expanded to include the gift of sight, water, safe births, and kindness.”
Ryan Scollon reports, “As a freelancer, I am part of a handful of online groups and communities that are a great place to ask questions on topics you are not familiar with. With digital marketing being quite a confusing topic for most business owners, there will often be questions on these groups which I always make the effort to answer. When I first started answering questions, it was purely just to give back to the freelance community as many professionals in other industries have helped me with my questions. But over the last 2 or 3 months, I have noticed an increase of enquiries to my business from people who have seen my comments and answers in these online groups.”
Chandra Gore of Chandra Gore Consulting tells us, “My consulting firm gives back to the community by hosting small business events as well as contributing to fundraisers. We also provide Public Relations Services at a discount to nonprofits so that their efforts will gain visibility and reach more supporters. We also share and promote via social media. We firmly stand by supporting various causes in our community to include small businesses as well.”
Emily Wood of G2D Group shares, “As a real estate development company, we’ve seen the importance of building up the community around our projects. When you are building a property, we always consider our impact on the area, and want to add value to the places we’ve chosen to bring our properties to. One of our newest buildings which is located in Hicksville, NY, I’ve personally witnessed how our presence and our community sponsorships have helped our brand awareness. We are opening WorkSmart Coworking Space in that location, we found an amazing small business and artists event being held in our local area. By supporting this event, and more similar events, we are able to help build up and create more opportunities.”
Says Calloway Cook of Illuminate Labs, “We have a partner charity called CURE Childhood Cancer, who we pledge to donate 5% of profits to every fiscal year. This has been fantastic for our branding, because consumers prefer ethical brands. Consumers like knowing that their purchase is making the world a better place. The business relationship with the charity has been mutually beneficial, since we give them free brand exposure through our marketing and PR efforts.”
Giving back to the very community that has generated brand awareness for you isn’t just a kind gesture – it can also boost brand awareness even more. Allison Hott of OptInMonster explains, “Our lead generation software started out as a WordPress plugin. The WordPress community really helped us raise brand awareness by using our tool, blogging about, reviewing it, recommending it, and so on. So, we regularly attend and speak at WordPress conferences like WordCamp to give back to the community.”
9. Be exactly what your customers need and want
How to strengthen brand awareness? Be customer-centric. A customer might be looking for something very specific, and if they don’t feel confident you fit that box, they will move on. If people can easily recognize what you have to offer them, it can help build your name in that specific niche. So, how do you build your brand awareness for your customers? Here are some examples from our experts.
Michael Stahl of HealthMarkets explains, “Several years ago HealthMarkets rebranded to its current name as we felt it was a name people would better know and understand what we do and what we provide. We built the brand positioning to be more meaningful to the marketplace and ensured we were providing what our customers wanted, enabling them to research and buy the products and services HealthMarkets offers when, where, and how they wanted to.”
David Peterson of HealthMarkets continues, “HealthMarkets updated itself to fit consumer needs approximately six years ago in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We recognized we needed to change the way we did business to meet the needs and wants of our customers. In addition to the thousands of HealthMarkets agents throughout the country consumers could do business with, we needed to provide the opportunity for the customer to choose how, when and where they wanted to do business with us. It resulted in a major digital transformation and rebranding of our company – and ultimately, significant growth and success, so we know we made the right decision.”
Bret Bonnet from Quality Logo Products shares, “Going back to the “Focus on providing a superior product to build brand awareness” reference, we decided to flip the way customers do business in the promotional products industry on its head by introducing our patented “No Surprise Pricing”. We’re the first and only company to provide the customer with a total delivered price along with a delivery date for their custom branded products (let me tell you, it’s not easy). While industry reception has been tepid at best, most of our peers frown on offering customers a guaranteed price and delivery date because they’re used to making money off of “extras”, customer reception has been phenomenal.”
Gath D’Silva of The Jacket Maker explains, “Brand awareness may have a different meaning for different people, which is often reflected in the brand itself, starting from the story or message of the brand. In time, I’ve realized that this story or brand message, serves as fuel. So getting it right, is paramount. Your story or message should be a point that resonates with many different people. Most importantly, it should be genuinely authentic. A brand’s story isn’t always clear-cut but tends to evolve and develops with time. This makes it most authentic, I think; that people can understand. Which later leads to the growth of an audience.”
Says Rebecca Gebhardt from Rise Up Consulting, “I focus on 3–5 categories of my business and those are what I want to be known for. I post only about those 3-5 things on my social media and add value in all of those areas to increase my know, like, and trust factor.”
McCall Robinson of Best Company explains, “Online reviews are definitely deluded with false advertising and companies paying review sites for the top spot. We’ve gone the opposite route by creating an algorithm that ranks businesses with the same metrics. In other words, you can’t buy a top spot on our site, and you’re only #1 if you have outstanding reviews and the metrics to back it up. This has immensely built our brand awareness because we are known as a trustworthy and legitimate company that doesn’t cut corners. Find a unique way to show your audience you are willing to develop a little slower if it means your product/service will outdo your competition. Consumers respect that.”
Ellie Pearce from Whoever You Need tells us, “Our aim is to make our website as easy as possible to navigate through for all users. It had become apparent that for logged in users, the dashboard was not laid out in such a way. We had noticed a rise in emails requesting various aspects which, if they had found it through the website, they shouldn’t have needed to have asked. We have since separated the dashboard into sections, with clear titles for each area with a new layout to make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.”
Jacob Edwards-Bytom of Made4Fighters explains, “Our business started as a B2B wholesaler. But that meant we didn’t have full control over how our brand was marketed to end consumers. So in 2013, we acquired Made4Fighters, a B2C e-commerce company. This allowed us to diversify the products we sell and control the full life cycle of the customer experience. It also has diversified our business so we have multiple streams of revenue.”
Patti Podnar of Podnar Consulting, LLC shares, “I originally positioned myself as a content writer. However, I began to see a pattern: Many of my clients didn’t know what they wanted or needed. They’d contact me with a request for a specific piece of content, but they didn’t know what they wanted that content to accomplish. As a result, I’ve begun branding myself as a content strategist who will help you build out your entire digital presence rather than just churning out copy from a content brief.”
Says Peter Watson-Wailes from Tough & Competent, “Delivering great CX starts with a strong strategy. For example, when working with one major travel brand, our set objective was to increase awareness and intention around the business travel offering by 20%. Doing that meant starting with ethnographic research to understand how the brand was viewed, examining touchpoints where that impression was created, and the purchase experience. From that data, we identified a major weakness – between the site’s search rankings and information architecture, business travel customers ended up interacting with generic consumer content. Through a combination of SEO, content architecture work and experience design, the objective was massively exceeded.”
Andrea Loubier from Mailbird tells us, “Mailbird is an email client for Windows, but I wanted it to be much more than a standard email service. In today’s business environment, entrepreneurs, CEOs and startup founders are tech-savvy, and they know exactly what they need in their software. This is why Mailbird offers numerous other apps that integrate with Mailbird, making it possible for a person to check their mail, complete an Asana task, send a message on Slack and download an image from Dropbox all in one place.”
Dominique Hart of Dynamik Endeavors shares, “In my visual branding agency, we have exclusive one-on-one services. With that being said, the average projects can run higher than the average small business can afford (or at least the potential clients we had seeking us out to work with us). Being that our purpose as a brand is to “transform brands to achieve accelerated profits and a “Dynamik” presence, and my passion to see entrepreneurs succeed, I saw it fit to sit down and figure out a way that we can help the average small business owner (according to their average affordability) and still remain profitable in the end. Adding a one-to-many/group approach and creating a “Programs” division in our company was the perfect solution.”
Chane Steiner from Crediful reports, “Insurance companies are constantly in competition with one another, meaning they are constantly trying to find that niche of not only meeting the needs of current customers, but bringing in new customers. State Farm, for instance, works hard to promote the “good neighbor” ideal by showing how they’ll always be there for the customer, like a good neighbor. Recently, Farmers’ has capitalized on Sesame Street’s anniversary. By taking something lovable that is from people’s childhoods and adding it to the “seen it all” concept, Farmers can compete with the good neighbor slogan. It’s about image and convincing people that your brand has the right image.”
Anthony Gaenzle tells us, “As we launched additional products within our portfolio, our target audience became more segmented. Our new offerings appealed to the leadership side of the healthcare industry, whereas our existing offerings appealed more to practice admins and physicians. To ensure we were targeting each segment as effectively as possible, we underwent a branding exercise. Beyond our logo and small name change, the most important part was the in depth dive into understanding our audience, putting together targeted buyer personas and then crafted messaging for the website, email, social media, marketing collateral and other touchpoints to ensure we were saying the right things to the right audience.”
Sacha Ferrandi of Source Capital Funding shares, “Businesses must switch to a proactive way of thinking when it comes to things like negative reviews. Customer service is such a critical part of today’s market because, through the use of social media, blogging, and videos, anybody’s voice can be heard by the entire world. One bad experience can spread like wildfire on the internet, forever damaging your brand’s public perception. The key to creating a good customer experience is not to try and eliminate all bad experiences, but rather to focus on how you deal with bad experiences as a company. A quick, honest, and empathetic response can make all the difference in the world when dealing with an unhappy customer.”
10. Use every connection you have as a resource to grow
There are more than two parties involved when it comes to running a successful business. It isn’t just the customers and the business in the relationship, it’s building a network. A business can have a variety of partners, ambassadors, and influencers that can all help increase brand awareness.
Nela Dunato from Nela Dunato Art & Design recommends, “Leveraging personal connections. Not in an exploitative way, but instead of relying on “influencers” with millions of followers, I make sure everyone in my network knows what I’m working on, by means of personal social media updates. Many people I’ve known for years are media editors, podcast hosts, conference organizers, etc. and have connections with other people in similar positions. This very low-key method got me and my new book a place in media outlets, events, and exponentially increased brand awareness, despite being a “small player” in my market. This works very well for small businesses who don’t have a huge advertising budget.”
Gina Dunn of iGina Marketing advocates for “Focusing on showing both the brand’s personality and the brand’s unique internal culture to the outside world. Being real, authentic, but also professional at the same time.
One of the things that worked best for us is having a strong network and providing good services where we overdeliver. Referrals drive 90% of my business and nothing builds brand awareness better than others talking about (and recommending) your brand when you aren’t there.”
Lauren Petermeyer of SocialChimp names “Connecting with the local community. Even though our product/brand is available nationwide, getting the word out about us locally has proved successful in gaining clients and brand awareness.”
Caitlin Strempel – CRS Digital Marketing, LLC shares, “Most of my business comes from Facebook. Joining networking and entrepreneurial Facebook groups have been vital to my business’s growth. I joined about 5 or 6 of these groups and every night for weeks, I would go and search the groups for any questions anyone had in regards to the services I offered and posts that were looking for my services. I would immediately respond to the post and then send a personal direct message to introduce myself and set up a call to discuss their needs. Now, when people ask for my services in these groups, current and past clients are responding on my behalf with my referral!”
Whitney Vosburgh of Work The Future! Today tells us, “I went to divinity school for my graduate degree, which gave me a unique view as to how true brand building is done well. Building brand communities around a core set of beliefs, values and shared value proposition is key.”
11. Be a little different and stand out from the crowd
You may offer the same thing as many other businesses. Capitalize on what makes you different. Use this as fuel to prove why you are better, more interesting, or a good fit. What are some unique strategies to help you improve brand awareness to separate you from the crowd?
Lori Cheek of Cheekd recommends “Guerrilla Marketing… One of my favorite success stories was from Dublin’s Web Summit when over 800 startups were exhibiting (90% of them were men) and I decided to stand out by wearing Angel Wings throughout the conference. When I was checking out of my hotel to head back to NYC, I looked down at Judy Dench on the cover of the Irish Times and there I was right next to her (me on my laptop with my Angel Wings— inside there was another 1/4 page picture mentioning my business).”
Says Brian Cairns of ProStrategix Consulting, “One of my favorite examples of a unique campaign is Dollar Shave Club (DSC). They are an excellent example of the 4 things that I rated highest for building brand awareness earlier in the survey. First, they had a very unique brand messaging with a unique personality. The irreverent take on a key weakness of the competitors quickly set them apart, especially among their target audience, Millennials. Second, they were definitely original vs. their competition. Gillette took its consumers for granted, assuming they would be able to trade them up every 24 mos. It made them vulnerable to low cost, similar quality competitors. DSC focused on the ease of buying its products vs. the hassle of the competitors. Finally, DSC invested heavily behind its message.”
Ellen Sluder of RingBoost shares, “I don’t mean to make this self-serving, but our vanity phone numbers have been really great for us, especially in building our referral program and our partnerships. When someone wants to pass along our info, they can offer up 1-877-RINGBOOST without having to look anything up or navigate to our website. It’s right there on the top of their mind. (we also have 914-NUMBERS and 914-200-0000, people use all three of our numbers.)”
Samuel Meyers from Glacier Wellness tells us, “Part of the startup experience is communicating your value as a brand. While there are countless routes a company can take, we wanted to give our business a personal touch and establish ourselves among our competitors. While many CBD companies focus on branding, we thought it was equally important to become an authority. In practice, we stand out as a health company that produces CBD products, whereas many others fail to earn the market’s trust.”
Megan Robinson of @revenue recommends “Having a unique, but not unheard of service. Combining sales and marketing services is something that is very logical and other business owners can quickly understand, but something they haven’t run into before.”
James Pollard from The Advisor Coach shares, “I have tried sending out handwritten notes to my customers letting them know I appreciate them. They often take photos of my notes and share them on social media. They’re thankful to receive a personal touch.”
Ali Reynolds of My Plumber tells us, “We sought out an environmentally friendly water tank called the Mixergy tank to bring to the London market. We wanted to stand alone from the competition by making sure we could do our part to help tackle the city’s air pollution problems whilst also saving our customers money. This campaign is helping customers reduce their heating bills all whilst providing an environmentally friendly solution.
This differentiation has helped us gain great media exposure and further highlights the importance we place in our customer’s needs and services. In turn, this has led to a referral customer inquiries and given our brand a local boost in local search.”
12. Use the right influencers and advocates to create a storm
You’ll find that people often trust people, not a specific business. If you choose the right faces to promote your brand, you can increase your trustworthiness and word of mouth. Thus creating the perfect foundation to build up your brand awareness.
Devin Stagg of Pupford shares, “Our approach to influencer marketing has been to create a free dog training course via the influencer, Zak George. He is the face of the training, leads the videos, ebook, etc. but it is housed on our site and co-branded. This influencer partnership has been huge because it has helped our brand awareness by tapping into his influence on social media, via searches of his name on Google, and more. Not only did brand awareness increase, but brand loyalty automatically saw a jolt because of his name next to ours.”
Liz Jeneault from Mack for Men told us, “At Mack for Men, we partner with influencers who have great hair. We always offer to send them our products for free. That helps establish a good working relationship from the start! On several occasions, we’ve followed up by asking them to collaborate with us on a giveaway. For example, we partnered with YouTuber TDM_Style on a giveaway around Black Friday. He posted the giveaway to his Instagram page, instructing people to follow our brand in order to enter to win. It got us new followers, helped build brand awareness, and also worked to help further solidify our relationship with the influencer.”
Gregory Golinski of YourParkingSpace shares, “We like to organize expert roundups on our blog page. One of our roundup participants shared the roundup with thousands of followers on Instagram, as a way to thank us. This gave our brand much more visibility and authority online.”
Says Melanie Hartmann of Creo Home Solutions, “Jerryll Noorden, of SEO for Real Estate Investors, has been there from the beginning of my decision to start investing in real estate full-time. Jerryll is now working with me to build the brand awareness of my house buying company, Creo Home Solutions. Jerryll pushed and motivated me to invest in both myself and my business by getting out of my comfort zone and bringing attention to Creo Home Solutions. It hasn’t been very long, and while very uncomfortable at first, I’ve found myself quickly adjusting to the positive effects of building awareness of my house buying company in Baltimore, MD!”
Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens and Moguls shares, “I had pitched a CEO about a month before I ran into her at a networking event where she was the keynote speaker and her topic was about being a woman leader in a traditionally male-dominated business. I had followed up after sending my proposal several times but she never returned any of my messages or even acknowledged receipt of the proposal requested. She announced at this event as part of her speech that she believes it is important to put your money where your mouth is and for women CEOs to support other respected & well-run women’s businesses and that is why she has hired my firm to handle all her company’s marketing & PR! I got a LOT of business from people in the room!”
Gina Hutchings of WSA attests, “People buy into people. A brand should be built around those who are in it. The employees should be central and advocate the brand when possible. I think to have a brand advocate, and also a face to the brand helps but they need to be genuine and not a paid influencer.”
As you probably can see, there are a variety of avenues you can travel if you are looking to build your brand awareness. Whether it be using the right tools, creating epic content, or running a special campaign.
If you’re wondering what we can attribute to building our brand awareness, here’s what I can say. If you have been keeping up with us, you may notice that we have put a big push towards creating high-quality content, we’ve nurtured partnerships, we took a deep dive into SEO, and most importantly we’ve been consistently working on our product.