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Brand Awareness: Stop Wasting Money and Time on Failure

We need to talk about how you’ve been justifying your marketing budget. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if your brand awareness campaign isn’t converting, you aren’t accomplishing your marketing goals. Sure, there are companies that can afford to inundate the public with their brand, but I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you don’t have that kind of budget.

The Hard Truth About Brand Awareness Advertising

Let’s start by debunking some common myths:

  1. Brand awareness is a “goal”.
    Sure, advertising platforms will let you set up your campaign based on this hazy term, but remember: A goal is an exact aim or desired result. Unless your desired result is to spend advertising money with nothing but impressions to show for it, it should probably be avoided.
  2. Brand awareness will get us in front of a larger audience.
    This statement in and of itself is true! But a larger audience doesn’t mean more potential business. Don’t let “partner networks” fool you! You don’t need a larger audience. You need the right audience and the right message.
  3. Look at all these impressions! What a great campaign.
    Brand awareness is a perfect scapegoat for a failed campaign since there is no metric of success if you’re only concerned with being seen. Impressions don’t tell you about intent. If you don’t learn about intent, you can’t meaningfully improve your advertising efforts, and more likely than not, you’ll be running another brand awareness campaign next quarter with the same lackluster bot impressions.

If you’ve read all of that and you’re still not convinced – if your goal is truly to get the word out about your brand – there are a few common ways that people become aware of brands:

  • Astronomical ad budgets (like Coca-Cola)
  • Word of mouth (referrals and reviews from existing clients)
  • Identity (they are emotionally engaged with the brand)

Plastering your logo all over with vague, broad messaging typically won’t translate into new business. You aren’t connecting with your potential clients by advertising to anyone and everyone. Let’s face it, whatever it is you offer is not meant for just anyone anyway.

“If you want to be more liked,
begin by liking.”

Seth Godin

Quality Over Quantity

So what can you do differently this time around? Shift your priority from quantity to quality. Instead of measuring success by the number of eyeballs your ad attracts, focus on the quality of interactions and the depth of engagement. A handful of loyal customers who truly believe in your brand are worth more than thousands of fleeting impressions.

Focus your efforts on reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. By better understanding your audience’s needs, desires, and struggles, you can create meaningful connections that resonate on a deeper level.

Here are some pointers for deepening your relationships with your existing and new clients:

  1. Collect Feedback Regularly: Use surveys, reviews, feedback forms, and follow-up emails to gather insights about client experiences and uncover trends.
  2. Create Buyer Personas: Develop detailed profiles of your ideal clients based on demographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits. This exercise seems silly, but it’s well worth the time commitment vs. repeatedly dumping funds into a failing ad campaign.
  3. Encourage Open Communication: Establish channels for clients to provide feedback, ask questions, and share experiences, fostering trust and transparency. This can be through discussion boards or forums, social media (if that’s your thing), or even customer reviews. A 2-star review might be just what you need to adjust the way your business operates for the better.

“People trust those who understand them, and they trust brands that understand them too.”

Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand

Rethinking Success

While brand awareness may have its time and place, it’s far from what you should be focusing on. Small businesses must avoid the trap of chasing empty metrics and hollow impressions. Instead, focus on building genuine connections with your audience, understanding their needs, and delivering value that sets you apart from the noise. Remember: a message for all is a message for none.

— W

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