A few years ago we started our company, oh and it has been a very very hard path in front of us. Many people think it’s straightforward and easy to establish a development and marketing company, but they are wrong. I was thinking the same but now for sure I know it’s nothing like that.
My co-founder and I knew how to develop software, we knew programming, and we were pretty good at it. But we had one problem, it was not enough. It’s not enough to know how to do something; it’s more important for others to know and recognize that. How to do that? Well, branding, branding, and one more time branding.
For example, when you are traveling to a country where you are not used to their cooking and you don’t like to experiment, there is probably a big possibility that you would go for a snack in McDonalds or KFC or some other well-known brand.
Or let’s say that you want to buy an energy drink. Be honest, you will probably take RedBull or Burn. I am sure there are more than ten other brands of energy drinks, but most people will choose a brand they can recognize.
Let’s discuss one more example. Let’s say that you are at a party where you don’t know anyone, and you see a person that you know. Let me guess, you are going to spend time with that person, right? Why not with someone you don’t know? Well, it’s obvious – because you don’t know them.
People tend to engage with brand/person/product or anything familiar.
Can you see the parallel with our agency? It was hard for us to find clients and new projects besides those clients we already knew from before.
Maybe we need marketing?
At that time, we decided that we need some kind of marketing and we took a student intern for marketing. Let’s give it a try!
It started slowly, we had profiles on social networks and once in a while we posted some content there… one month passed, 6 months passed, a year passed… It was really nice to see our friends liking our posts. But that was the problem, only our friends and families liked our posts.
…first year… passed
…second year… passed
Now things have changed, people recognize us. How do I know that? Well, at this moment we are one of the best software development companies in Croatia. We hold sixth place!
Our official company account on Facebook and Instagram got many likes from people we didn’t know. Who are they? I don’t know, but some of them will apply to our career offers and some of them will contact us when they have some project that needs to be developed.
Most of our work came to us by word of mouth, but that is not enough. If someone recommends your business, the first thing that person will explore is your internet presence. If there is none, then don’t expect someone will actually contact you. Of course, there will be exceptions but most of them will give up on this step and start searching for another company.
If we compare this to an example from the beginning, two years ago we were some unfamiliar energy drink brand, but today we are more similar to Burn, for now, not Red Bull, yet.
Your brand is the face of the work you do, of the processes and standards you have and of the ambition and confidence you have. If you don’t have it, you have nothing.
So, what’s brand awareness?
According to Investopedia, brand awareness is a marketing term that describes the degree of consumer recognition of a product by its name. In our terms brand awareness is ONE OF the most important things in promoting your business and quality that you are offering. Based on your brand strength, you can distinguish your company from competitors.
This means that in the market with a lot of competition, and your service or product is not so much different from others, brand awareness is everything. The truth is that it is expensive to create a recognized brand, and it is a slow process, but the quality of your work will do the rest and multiply the profit if you don’t disappoint your customers with a product or service.
In our example, we did invest in brand awareness for years and today we still have to do it, but it’s so much effective now and we see for the same investment more results.
Most business owners see only the cost, and that’s wrong. Brand awareness is an investment that should be made if you are serious about your business.
What should I do to start with brand awareness?
It’s hard to say what could have the best results for every product and service, but I will write a few basic things that should work for everyone. Before we go to the things that you should do, let’s first go through the things that, in most cases, will not have positive results.
Most businesses that come to us want some kind of digital marketing; to be more precise they want Facebook or Google ads. In most cases, that’s the wrong approach. Why? Well, it’s obvious. It’s really hard to sell something to the people if they never heard about you. Let’s check this on our example. Back in the day when we were noobs, we were thinking that we could create an Ad on some platform offering web development service, find a bunch of clients and voila… that’s how things go 😀 If you put more money in the ads you will get more profit. Check the picture below.
No, this approach will not give you a positive result. You can’t just target people with an ad and think that they will, at that moment, decide they need a digital agency. No way. This could work if you are showing ads to the people that already know who are you and what your company is doing. But for the new audience, for most companies and products, this won’t work.
Now that we showed you what is not a good approach, let’s see what could work. For example, let’s say that you are in the dentist industry. The first thing that you want to do is to create content, more content, and just a little more content. That could be a mix of infographics, blog posts, beautiful illustrations, etc… The next step is to publish them on your social media accounts, your blog, and everywhere else where your potential customers are searching.
The only thing that you should work on is to educate your potential customers and show them that you are really an expert in the field. This step is important because a person interested in the service that you are offering will find that content interesting. That’s all? Well basically yes, you should do that and then maybe in a few months (more than 6 months) some of them will need your service or product and you will most likely be the only company they can think about. That is the basic thing, you want to be the first thing that will pop out in the mind of your potential customer when he decides that he needs your product or service.
Business relationships are not any different from person to person relationships
We all know how person to person relationships are formed. You introduce yourself to someone new, which is followed by finding out more about that person. There are two possible outcomes, either you like the other person or you don’t. If you find out something about them that you don’t like (for example, high ego – if you don’t like that kind of person) you will stop spending time with that person and lose interest. But, if you like their characteristics and character you will be more inclined to spend more time with them and establish a stronger relationship.
Almost the same thing applies to the brand. You will show people what you are doing, how you are doing it, and show all the good and bad things (well, don’t show too many bad things :D). If they like what they see, they will be more engaged with your brand and recommend you even if they are never using your brand. They will have trust in you and your product/service.
It is all about trust and how well you are able to present yourself. Do you see the correlation? It is the same as in every person to person relationship. If a person trusts your brand, it is more likely they will want to work with you (or engage with you).
In short, brand awareness is more cost-effective marketing
You should have in mind that every use case and every brand is different. Sometimes this is not a better approach. For example, if we are a restaurant, we have two options. We can invest in brand awareness or we can use direct ads for selling some meals. Let’s analyze both of them:
Brand awareness for restaurant
In this approach, restaurants will set up their Instagram profiles and post great visuals of their meals and happy people enjoying that food. They will write articles and publish them on their blog (on their website), so they can be SEO optimized for Google search engine. After a year, they will have a few thousand followers on their Instagram account, and many people searching for a restaurant in the city will come to their web site.
People that come to their web site will probably check the menu and, if they like what they see, will visit the restaurant for dinner or lunch. Moreover, people from Instagram will like and engage with their photos for some time, and when they decide to go somewhere for a meal that restaurant will probably be in their mind.
That way you establish a long time relationship with the customers. If they enjoyed the food, I am sure they will come back and leave a review that will benefit you in the long term.
In this approach, you invested something in the first year, but next year you can decrease effort and money invested with a minimal decrease in profit.
Direct Ads for restaurant
This approach is more direct, and you will invite an audience that doesn’t know about you for dinner or lunch. In this approach, you will set up a Facebook account for your brand, create some visuals, make an offer (discount for dinner, etc…) and target people to claim it.
You can run ads for two days and get your restaurant full for the weekend, but next weekend most likely, if you don’t rerun ads, it will not be full. Of course, if the last weekend they enjoyed your food, they will probably come back sooner or later. But, the fact is that this approach takes a lot of work. You need to do this for many weeks, and in most cases with a discount for a portion of food, to get some brand awareness.
After one year you will probably still need to run ads to fill your restaurant for a weekend. You will be able to spend less money (after a year) on ads because half of the people will be coming back because they enjoyed your service. But, you will have to invest much more in the first year.
Which approach is better for a restaurant?
It is hard to say; it all depends on the goals of the restaurant. Do they want to be full every weekend with much more effort or they want to become a recognized restaurant through brand awareness?
By putting effort into brand awareness, you will have to invest less money but will have to wait longer for the results. While with direct ads you get results fast, you have to invest much more money to be at the same place as with the first approach.
Make an impact with your work
Whatever your company is doing, or selling, be sure that you are making an impact on the people around your brand. It could be educating them, giving away free things to make them happy, or anything else you can think of. Maybe just making their day better.
It is really that easy, but the most important thing is to do it for a long time. This is the thing where most brands fail. They start doing it and if they don’t see results after a month or two, they give up. I mean, how do you plan to build a company if you don’t have the discipline and patience even for a low effort basic thing?
Anyway, the second most frequent reason brands fail in creating brand awareness is that no one in a company has the time to put an effort and create a momentum for brand awareness. Well, this is precisely the reason digital agencies exist – so that we can do it for you.