How many people know your brand exists? Of those, how many think of your products or services first when they need something? Does your brand tend to have a positive reputation?
The primary focus of increasing brand awareness is to cast the widest net possible and catch the most customers. Then, once it’s out there, you want to make the best possible first impression. That, in turn, will increase the size of your “net” or the number of people who recognize and could potentially recommend your brand. The following five methods will help any brand accomplish both goals.
Create a Referral Program
Who likes your brand already? What incentives can you give them to tell their friends, their audience? A recommendation like that can create a ripple effect. Referral or “affiliate” programs are designed to generate more reviews and recommendations for your brand and spread awareness quickly.
At the heart of most reviews and impromptu endorsements is an active brand referral program. Once a referral program has been set up, your current customers and fans can refer their friends and family. If the person they pitch to uses your service or buys your product, the referrer gets an incentive. It could be a lottery entry, a discount, or cash.
Do Something Unusual
There are two main ways to spark interest by breaking the mold. The first method is an active, “viral” ad campaign. The second is by surprising your customers with some aspect of your everyday business practices.
In the first case, you create an ad that people want to share. It could be because it’s entertaining, generally useful, or connects with them on an emotional level. Stick with a positive message that gels with your brand’s values, but make it entertaining.
The second primary way to surprise your customers and generate buzz around your brand is to do something exceedingly well. This could have to do with customer service, framing, or anything that connects with your customers in a new way. Get them involved with your brand’s story. Make them laugh. Anything that makes your brand stand out from the rest will help them remember you.
Try a New Format
The easiest way to build awareness might be to simply try another format for your content. By creating simple videos out of already-produced blog content or setting up a podcast to discuss some of your brand’s big ideas, you could reach a whole new audience. Not only that, but each content format offers its own cross-promotional opportunities.
- Blog – Regularly updating your brand’s blog will, as mentioned below, show that you care about your customers or audience members even when their not making a purchase.
- Podcast – Podcasts are like your brand’s own, personal radio show. You don’t need to create your own podcast to capitalize on this format, either. There are plenty of successful podcasts out there right now that broadcast interviews with businesses of every kind. No matter what your brand offers, there’s an angle you can use to get yourself onto a popular podcast.
- Infographic – These visual representations of data are shared up to 3x more than standard blog posts. You can use them to share data from past business successes, as a worksheet or flowchart to help your customers, or to present complex information to help prospects decide whether working with your brand is right for them.
- Video – According to YouTube, digital video consumption rises by roughly 100% year over year. A video is also more likely to be shared than text, audio, and images combined.
Create a Partnership
Other brands are in the same spot as you. They want a bigger audience; they want more people to know who they are. So help them out. In the same way, they can help you out. Every audience may be unique, but by that same token, the people who already love your brand may have a few more things in common than merely being fans of your products or services.
What are some brands around you that have the same values and produce products that compliment yours? If you sell the world’s best socks, who sells the world’s best shoes? If you sell 100% fruit jam, what are the names of your local bakeries? Creating a partnership to promote each other’s products and brands boosts both companies at the same time. (And it doesn’t have to cost a thing.)
Give Before You Get
To create a positive image for your brand, you need to focus on building value. If you want to reach the most people while doing that, nothing beats “free.” From guest posts and ebooks to giving away tangible items, giving something away can give your brand better reviews and win you, new customers.
If you choose to use products to promote your brand, it may be best to use your own products or a “light” version of what you offer. You can send these products to your best customers to show appreciation and hope for a recommendation. Alternatively, you could make a bargain with an influencer in your space.
If, on the other hand, you go with intangible, digital assets as your method of brand promotion, make sure that the content you produce is both unique and the best of its kind. There is plenty of free information on the internet that’s “good enough.” To make your brand stand out, your content has to be better than that.
Keeping Things Positive
Now that your brand is out there, how do you make sure that your messaging is consistent and your customers are taken care of, no matter where they voice their opinions? Online reputation management. Of course, you can take care of this yourself, to the best of your ability. Or you can hire a professional.
If you plan on managing your online rep by yourself, keep the time commitment in mind. Not only will you need to schedule the time to research and learn about online reputation management, but you will also have to craft effective feedback responses and reputation management strategies, too. Often enough, when you add up the cost of all that time, a dedicated firm seems like a good value.