Look at big businesses, and look at how they are advertising. The ads that you see on TV, on billboards, and many other channels. In traditional advertising speak, some of these materials are not made to sell directly but made to build awareness. People in advertising call them Thematic Ads: ads that promote the brand personality or ideal, rather than have a direct call-to-action that leads to a transaction. In our field, we can simply call these Brand Awareness ads.
When you see a Brand Awareness ad for Coca-Cola, you’re not going to order a case of Coca-Cola from a website that they give you, right? Instead, it’s just building affinity for that brand, with hopes that the next time you’re in a store or in a restaurant, you’re going to think about buying Coca-Cola, as they have intentionally increased awareness among the general public.
The good thing about Coca-Cola is that they can afford to pay for these wide-reaching materials–also because their market reach is wide. You can go to tons of stores and restaurants and buy their product mostly anywhere all over the world. For a small business, that’s not the case. Thematic or Brand Awareness ads don’t work the same if you serve a much smaller or localized segment. Simply increasing awareness for a brand, especially through online advertising, is not going to have a positive effect where it matters most for a small business: returns.
I’m sorry to say, increasing brand awareness ONLY, in my experience and opinion, is not going to lead to sales for a small business.
It’s too expensive to spend money to put an ad in front of people with the sole purpose of making yourself memorable or relatable, the way big corporate brands do. The people who remember your ad, those who may decide to come back later to purchase from you is going to be just a small percentage. It can’t be a profitable campaign because it’s actually not going to do anything significant.
So, what is the solution?
If you will run ads, you should not just try to increase brand awareness, as businesses with bigger markets and in traditional advertising are wont to do. For a small or local business, a call to action to do business right away is key. Promote a specific service or offer. Get them to call you and seal the deal. Traditional advertisers call this “Tactical” ads. For our purposes, what is tactical to them should be a way of life for us. Make sure to actually sell products or services in your ads. That way, your ads can be profitable, because you can track how much you’re spending and earning, how you’re converting and what products or services they’re going for.
That doesn’t mean you can’t increase brand awareness at the same time. But in our digital space, choose to do it with an immediate call to action so you can see results in your campaign. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
If you have a goal of brand awareness, that tells me you probably have a lot of money to burn. If that’s the case, I can give you an address, you can send me the money instead.
What is the Bottom Line?
The real goal is to get customers and make sales. So forget this concept of brand awareness.
You will lose money on a brand awareness campaign alone. You should actually run ads that are intended to make money from the start. Then, the byproduct is the brand awareness from both “people who become your customer” and “people who don’t become your customer right away”.