Mercedes-Benz. Amazon. Apple. With an average brand valuation of $137 million, these companies are undeniably recognizable across countries and generations. They were created during very different times in history and they each produce different products and services, yet they all have clearly mastered one thing—the art of awareness. These brands have put themselves in front of consumers so consistently for so long that just glancing at their logos instantly summons the companies values. Once these brands became household names, they didn’t lean back. Instead, they continue to harness the power of awareness to retain their loyal customers and get the attention of prospective customers.  

The concept of awareness is not lost on most organizations. Marketers understand it as a basic marketing component, yet some are reluctant to budget advertising dollars for awareness campaigns. The most common reason that marketers shy away from these campaigns is that they say awareness is difficult to measure. This notion is one that is outdated and quite frankly not true. Engagements, clicks, repeat visitors, and quicker conversions give you a clear picture that audiences are aware of your brand and have connected to it. Those who doubt the effectiveness of awareness as a tactic tend to rush into short, direct response campaigns targe­ted to audiences that have never heard of the brand. When the conversion numbers disappoint, the result is the inevitable head tilt as to why the organization isn’t getting the response it expected. Instead of taking a step back to properly educate and cultivate customers, many marketers become impatient and fall into the blame-shift cycle: blame the agency and/or platform and/or budget, rinse, and repeat. 

Good marketers understand that awareness is a fundamental tactic of building a brand. They know that if audiences don’t recognize their brand and its value, it’s going to be incredibly difficult in terms of effort and money to get them all the way through the marketing funnel. And, it’s going to be even harder to understand where the disconnect is in terms of getting them to convert. Foregoing awareness campaigns for nonprofits, for example, can be especially costly. The lack of an awareness component means that you’re asking people to donate but instead of being proactive in terms of educating them, you’re being reactive by tasking them with spending copious amounts of time on your website and other channels gathering information to the point where they are comfortable making a donation. Sure, it can happen, but it probably won’t. 

When people are actively looking to, say buy car insurance, they will likely start their search at a company that they, and no doubt millions of others have heard of, like GEICO. GEICO’s name is top-of-mind so much so that many of us could recite their tagline, Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more. From the caveman to the gecko to the hump day camel, taking a lesson from GEICO’s layered marketing approach could bring extra attention to your brand. Running a foundational awareness campaign during the year to educate audiences and familiarize them with your brand while concurrently running direct response campaigns serves two purposes. It helps people understand what your organization does and explains why they should buy/donate. From there, it’s a matter of providing compelling information through short- and long-form content, videos, infographics, email, and by maintaining a constant presence.

Getting in front of targeted audiences over a long period of time with similar messages that speak to your organization’s value will no doubt earn you market share. Awareness campaigns are an added expense and they do take time. But, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. So, don’t be tempted to spare awareness for a few ad hoc campaigns. It could cost you prospective customers/donors and result in brand confusion. As AT&T says, Just okay is not okay. Make a resolution in 2020 to add an awareness component to your marketing efforts.  

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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