Your brand is innovative; its cutting-edge products are delighting your target audience, challenging your competitors and advancing your industry. At all times, you're a few steps ahead of the market's movements and you're consistently surprising your ideal customers by giving them what they need…before they even know they want it.
And yet, you feel like not enough people know about your brand. Your assessment of the predominant need for your product far outweighs the size of your current customer base. You have mastered product, brand and branding innovation; and yet, you're struggling with innovative ways to increase brand awareness, recognition and visibility.
I think it's time we had a talk
Brand Awareness, with Innovation
If you're going to build the brand you want to see in the world, more people are going to have to know about it…and I'm not talking about just any people. I'm talking about your ideal customers—the people who will appreciate what you do, who will be happy to pay you what you're worth and who will tell more of your ideal customers about your brand.
I have found the following pieces of advice invaluable in building brand awareness, and I think you will too:
- Tap into your Local Community and its Resources. In this age of global connectivity and international brand-building, it's becoming more and more unlikely that you'll find your ideal customers in your own neighbourhood. However, when you're starting out, it's a great place to start…particularly if you see a need for your product in your hometown. Submit press releases to your local newspaper, magazines and television stations. Make yourself available for television and radio interviews. Volunteer within the community (with a cause that closely aligns with your brand's corporate values). Join your local business bureau; write pieces for their information spaces and network with local influencers. Word spreads fast in close-knit communities, so get in there and see if your brand can benefit.
- Attend, Present and Speak at Trade Shows. I see lots of brand builders who are willing to set up a booth at a trade show…to talk to people who stop and who may need their products. However, I see fewer and fewer business owners taking the initiative to pursue public speaking opportunities whilst at those trade shows. Remember that these events are chock-full of your ideal customers, and finding a target audience of that size, all in one place, isn't likely to happen again in the near future. Next time you register to participate in a trade show, take every opportunity available to you.
- Break a Rule. One sure way to get your brand noticed is to do something that may be considered a faux pas, or to do something that challenges the status quo. You know your audience better than anyone, and you know how they're suffering, what they wish would change about the current industry, and how they're being let down by their current brands/suppliers. Now is your chance to say the things that no one else has the nerve to say; and to do the things that your competitors are afraid to do. Choose a cause, a solution or a statement that your ideal customers will welcome and appreciate, test it to ensure that it can be viable in the market, and then go all-out. Run with it. Own it. Not only will you gain shock-factor attention and press for your brand, you will feel like a breath of fresh air to your target audience members.
- Kill it with Customer Service. Ask any consumer what they miss about 'the old days,' or what they think is missing in today's service industries, and they're sure to mention customer service. Very few cashiers say 'thank you' after the sale. It's rare to find a customer service representative who truly loves her job, and difficult to identify a company that prides itself on customer care. Show your customers that their satisfaction is first on your list. Prove that you've built your brand for them and their needs. Work to develop close business relationships. Instead of focussing on notoriety or profit, make a commitment to your customers…and you'll have it all.
- Be a Business Card Dispenser. Your business cards should be on every bulletin board in town, in the hands of every ideal customer and in the pocket of every brand advocate, affiliate and potential referrer. And they can't be just any business cards. They must be so unique and engaging of the senses that they can't be ignored or tossed in the dust bin. Think about how they smell, how they sound, how they feel…and about how you can create a consumer experience simply by handing over a business card. This is not just about brand awareness innovation (i.e. how to distribute business cards to as many of the right people as possible), it's about making them too interesting to ignore.
- Open your Mind to New and Different Contact Methods. Everyone is getting emails. Everyone is seeing social media ads. How many of your ideal customers are getting unique mailers? Or personal interactions at a local retailer? Forget about what the competition is doing and focus on how your target audience members would like to learn about your brand….and them give it to them. They will be engaged, they will enjoy the experience of your brand, and best of all, they will tell their friends.
There are lots of ways to get your brand noticed, and the best methods are the ones you haven't thought of yet.
Building brand awareness is a discipline that requires creative thought and innovative courage—two things that very few of your competitors are willing to commit to. Will you pledge to offer this to your ideal customers? Will you give them something to talk about? Something they can sink their teeth into and share with enthusiasm?
If you're ready to learn more about how to build brand awareness, recognition and visibility, I have just what you need in the B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp. Each of these unique branding experiences is a full day of brand expertise, tips, strategies and know-how—all presented by yours truly. Join me, won't you?