Does brand recognition only come to companies with money to spare? Do you have to have your skin in the game to have a chance at cultivating brand awareness? Can you establish the brand recognition everyone wants but only few receive? Is your marketing budget, or lack of one, holding you back from success?
These questions may run through your brain all the time. You are not alone. Fighting the changing of times, technology, and trends is a constant struggle for most marketing managers and business owners.
Marketing budgets don’t grow on trees, which means most of us have to maintain a delicate balancing act of social media, print, and PPC advertising. Juggling the semantics of sales qualified leads, marketing qualified leads, re-marking, and sales cycles, there are plenty of places to spend your budget. Unfortunately, all too often businesses spend their marketing budget prior to the start of the new fiscal year.
So, how are you supposed to muster up a marketing budget that is able to compete with that of the big players in the advertising world? How do the bigshot advertising companies expect a SMB product or service to ever boost its brand recognition beyond that of a publicly traded fully funded establishment? The truth is they don’t, not for scaleable results anyway.
Small and medium sized businesses have a difficult time competing with well-established brands on any paid advertising level at least. How could they? Overtaking a huge corporation with that kind of marketing budget would be like winning the lottery. Would you gamble with your business? Why would you gamble with your marketing budget—the life raft for your sales team?
Since buying in to the advertising marketing can get pricey you may want to opt to use a different type of advertising strategy. One that relates more closely to that of content marketing and the inbound methodology.
There is more to successful advertising than using it to sell products or service subscriptions. If you truly want to build a successful brand you must build a successful community around your brand first.
The only way to muster up the interest in your community is to get people talking about it, right? Be it word-of-mouth marketing, content marketing, social media marketing—it is all orbiting around one common factor—engagement.
How does a brand develop community engagement to build brand awareness?
Content. Content that is interesting, appealing, and informative enough to capture and hold the attention of the partaking individuals—your buyer personas. High-impact and informative content creates engagement.
“In the quest to drive more members to your community, the best measure you can take is to increase engagement. An active community represents a more enticing opportunity for potential members. But perhaps more importantly, keeping your community active enriches the bonds between them and your site.” (CMI)
So, if you have your hopes set on the promise of an engaged community, you better start producing some content. It is necessary for you to build a sturdy foundation of content for your brand to rest upon before you invest in advertising. If you have invested in the website traffic through paid advertising, you should nurture their presence with value.
In addition to creating the content for your community, you must also participate within the community for it to flourish.
"Engage with your community. If you are thinking about starting a business blog to build community and you are not participating in the community (regardless of its current size or state) how can you ever expect to build community around a new blog?
A lot of businesses miss on all four cylinders with this blog strategy. A community of socially engaging users are not going to appear out of nowhere. You must first engage your community if you want them to engage with your brand.
If creating a community around your blog is not the the underlying goal of the entire editorial process, you may be wasting your time.
Reaching out to your community and reassuring them of your ever-present thought leadership will help mold a trusting relationship. This trusting relationship will blossom over time with dedication and consistency in developing a solid online community and content to please them. Blog on my friends.” (DII)
Once you have established a content production process, published and optimized your content, you should start seeing an influx of website traffic. You can then begin to plan your advertising campaigns. You'll want to focus your ads on the aforementioned content.
At this point, you may begin to realize you don’t need PPC advertising any longer. You can simply set up advertising campaigns to build awareness, and thus increase website traffic and brand recognition through content marketing.
Now, back to brand building through advertising. Creative advertisements, banner ads, and inbound marketing campaigns can be at the center of your lead generation and brand awareness PPC campaigns—just the same as they would be for the content you have created to inform your current audience, customers, and community. In a report authored by Colin Jevons (Monash University) he discusses the importance of a different advertising strategy.
"…Buil, de Chernatony and Martinez explore the relationships between two central elements of marketing communications programs—advertising and sales promotions—and their impact on brand equity. Individuals’ attitudes towards advertisements have received little research attention in the brand equity context, but are shown to be important in building brand equity (the dimensions of which are shown to be partly inter‐related). By using an original, creative and different advertising strategy, companies can develop higher brand awareness and positive perceptions of their brands. Perceived advertising spending also has a positive effect on brand awareness, although interestingly such investment does not necessarily enhance perceived quality and brand associations."
Read more about this study here.
A quick note: If you have just set out on this brand recognition and content marketing quest, you can, for the time being, put the advertising aside. There is no need to bring a horse to a dry watering hole. Advertising should come into the picture once you have built a sturdy foundation of content to provide your website visitors.
You see, the idea is to develop a place that is recognized by the general public—specifically your buyer personas and target audience—as an informative resource they can count on when in need of advice, information, or guidance for dealing with your industry, product, service, or content niche. By positioning yourself as a thought leader in a particular industry, you are simultaneously positioning your brand to be that as well. Thought leadership and content marketing can work together and help you remain agile even when you have identified your content niche.
Expand your content offerings in manner that is 500 feet deep but only a few inches wide. Provide all of the most up-to-date and accurate information as you can within your content. Know and relate to the individuals you are serving with your product, and serve them even better next time.
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