I recently talked to the owner of an organization that believed if a certain celebrity knew about her foundation, she would be set.
She believed that the answer to all of her problems would be solved if she had mass awareness and she viewed a celebrity endorsement as being the key to that happening.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard something like this.
When I worked for a nonprofit in Chicago, many in the organization believed that if we could just get on the Oprah show it would solve our fundraising challenges.
When I worked at a PR firm, we often had clients ask us to get them in the New York Times in hopes to achieve mass awareness.
And, in running my own strategic marketing and branding agency, I’ve had many requests to help a business “go viral.”
I’m not faulting these organizations for wanting to get noticed for the work that they do. Aspiring to get noticed is incredibly common in business. And it’s not a bad thing to want recognition for your work.
The problem is that oftentimes more awareness won’t solve their organization’s problems or help them reach their goals.
Awareness often is often something people want because it feels good, not because it’s a strategic marketing objective for their organization.
The Problem with Chasing Brand Awareness
So, why is chasing brand awareness problematic? Here are a few reasons why mass awareness won’t help your business:
1. It’s the wrong goal.
When organizations say they want more brand awareness, what they are really saying is that they want more people to buy their products or services.
In fact, that’s what every business wants, right?
The problem is that awareness doesn’t always translate to sales.
You’ve likely heard the adage that people buy from brands they know, like and trust. But just because you’ve heard about a brand, doesn’t mean that you like or trust them.
A great example of this comes from Super Bowl ads. The ads might be entertaining and memorable, but they don’t always cause consumers to buy.
For example, Radio Shack had one of the most successful Super Bowl ads in 2014 only to close 20 percent of its stores five weeks later. And Budweiser’s “lost dog” ad in 2015 was considered a huge hit and was wildly popular on social media, but it didn’t result in any brand lift.
Awareness only gets you name recognition. It does NOT get you belief.
People buy from brands they believe in
In today’s world, people are increasingly looking for brands to believe in. They want the companies they buy from to stand for something.
In fact, if you look at all the research coming out about Millennials and Gen Z, you’ll notice that this audience cares more about transparency, authenticity, values and story.
They only want to support organizations that align with their personal values and will understand their wants and needs. They want to make informed decisions and it’s less about what you do, but HOW you do business that matters.
Simply getting on your audience’s radar is not enough. You need a strong story and message that connects with your audience in an emotional way if you want them to buy from you.
2. It’s not focused enough.
The biggest reason why mass awareness doesn’t work is that it’s not focused enough. Awareness is all about getting your brand and message in front of as many people as possible.
But when you target everyone, you attract no one.
The problem is that most organizations don’t need attention from the masses. They need to get their message in front of the right people.
We have worked with many clients who serve a very niche industry. These clients don’t need to be on the front page of their local paper or have billboards up all over town. Instead, they need to get their message in front of a very specific audience.
For example, our commercial carpet cleaning client only needs to get in front of local property managers and facility managers. Our acupuncture client is focused on reaching people who need a more affordable way to manage their health issues.
Neither of these clients need mass media attention. These companies win by showing their target audience that they are the best choice to solve their problems or make their lives better.
The reason this works is that instead of casting a wide net in the ocean, we’re fishing in a stocked pond.
Even for us, we don’t want to attract everyone. We are solely focused on helping social enterprises and mission-driven businesses create stronger brands and better stories. That’s it. We’re a brand strategy driven shop and we’re not for everyone. That’s why we don’t need mass awareness.
Your business doesn’t either. You don’t need to be everywhere or get everyone’s attention. Doing so can cost your business a ton of time and money.
Instead, you need to focus on attracting the right people who align with your mission, vision and values will benefit most from your offerings.
3. It’s not the most effective growth strategy.
Attracting new customers or clients definitely feels good. And it’s often the thing that organizations focus on most with their marketing.
While that can be a worthwhile goal, it’s not always the most effective way to grow. If you want to increase your revenue and profit margins, you don’t necessarily need more clients or customers. Or, at least not as many as you think. Oftentimes, the most effective way to increase sales is looking right under your nose with your existing customers.
Consider this——depending on the industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer can cost anywhere from FIVE to 25 TIMES MORE than retaining an existing one. In fact, research by Bain and Company (the same people who developed the Net Promoter Score) found that improving customer retention by 5 percent can increase your profit margin from 25 to 95 percent.
The reason this works is that repeat customers are more likely to buy from you again and again because they already know, like and trust you. As a result, they may also refer others to your business. And, your operating costs to serve these existing customers will decline over time. Because of all of that, it pays to keep customers coming back for more.
Sometimes, one of the most effective things you can do to grow your business is cross-selling or upselling your products and services to existing customers to get them to buy more from you. It might not be sexy, but it works. We’ve seen this time and time again with our clients.
Why You Need a Better Brand Strategy
So, what should your business do instead of devoting your time and money to brand awareness?
Start by building a strong brand strategy and a focused marketing plan.
Here’s where to start:
- Clearly define your target audience;
- Identify the key problem you solve for that audience and what makes you different;
- Create a compelling story that resonates with your audience; and
- Determine where to distribute your story that will get their attention.
When it comes down to it, that’s what good branding and marketing is all about——understanding your audience well enough that you can craft a message that gets their attention.
Sure, it’s not quite that easy.
That’s why people lean on brand strategy agencies like ours——we help you identify the one thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and then craft a compelling story that showcases the brilliant work you do.
Your business has magic in it. But, it can take an outside perspective to help you uncover that.
The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. We can help.
Ready to get started?