Yes, Virginia, Brand Awareness Really Does Increase Sales
Once upon a time, a group of executives were listening to a presentation on what their marketing strategy should look like.
The marketing director put together an integrated and comprehensive strategy that included content development, email, social media, and paid advertising. She gave estimates for impressions and reach, as well as a measurable and achievable goals of how many people would be aware of the business after the campaign concluded. After she finished the presentation, she asked if there were any questions. One executive spoke up.
“How does any of this make us money? None of this is making sales. I’m sorry, but no.”
The marketing director explained that no one could buy from the business if they didn’t even know the business existed. She told the executive that these campaigns and strategic pieces were designed to increase their brand awareness so audiences would become interested and potentially become customers.
The executive team decided that there was no way to guarantee that these things would translate to sales. They proposed a direct mail campaign with a coupon. The meeting concluded. The hearts of marketers everywhere were broken.
The hearts of marketers everywhere were broken.
This story is actually pretty commonplace these days, as plenty of budget-givers and decision makers are used to the ways of the past and aren’t convinced that marketing can actually drive revenue. They are, of course, wrong.
As the marketing director in the story said, no one can buy from your business if they don’t know it exists. Brand awareness plays a critical role in revenue models: once someone is aware of your brand, it literally kickstarts the buyer’s journey.
You know this. Of course you know this: you’re a marketer. But how do you make the people in charge understand it?
Once someone is aware of your brand, it literally kickstarts the buyer’s journey.
When you’re trying to persuade decision makers to give you money and time for your campaign efforts, here are a few things to make sure you include in your pitch:
1. Show Where Your Customers Live Online
When you frame your pitch to show that people can’t buy from your company if they don’t know it exists, you’ll find that most people agree with and follow that logic. Now you have to show them where your customers live.
Don’t just tell them you need to be on LinkedIn—tell them why you need to be on LinkedIn. (Because your target audience is on LinkedIn every day.)
Email campaigns don’t mean anything to people until you remind them that just about everyone has to check their email every day, so you want to make sure that one of the emails they receive is about your business.
Show them where your target audience lives and then explain why it’s important that your brand lives there too.
2. Storyboard the Process, Including the Results
If you have previous campaign data available to you, use it to your advantage in your pitch.
Start with the initial campaign—maybe a paid search campaign—and show them the campaign from ideation to execution and monitoring. Show the results that you tracked and how it worked. Also, don’t be afraid to show them the mistakes that were made or the lessons that were learned; you came away with important knowledge that will inform your next campaign.
If you don’t have an example of a past campaign for your business, look for a case study from another business that is similar to what you are trying to do. Published case studies will include positive results for you to point to.
Remind the executive team that all campaigns are different and net different results, but that the positive outcome is generally the same.
3. Remind Them That These Things Take Time
This piece is the most critical piece to highlight for an executive team that wants to see results immediately. Set clear and reasonable expectations—make sure they know that it may be a few months before they see desired results from your campaign.
Why? Because marketing takes time. Tell them that it typically takes between six to eight marketing touches before someone becomes interested enough to pursue purchasing information for a product or service.
You are trying to accomplish a few of those touches and shorten the process, but it will take time to do so. Set your expectations for when you will have results to look at, and be conservative with your estimates.
4. Exalt the “Trackability” of Digital
Many people came out of a time where direct mail campaigns, television ads, phonebook ads, and billboards were the only way to reach people.
The problem with this model is that: a) you can’t hyper-target audiences with these methods—you can only blanket advertise, which gives you no real information on consumer behaviors; and b) these methods are barely trackable unless they come with a unique discount code.
Plus, it still takes six to eight marketing touches on average to get someone in the purchasing mindset. The campaigns you are proposing now are trackable in ways we didn’t think possible ten years ago. This information is invaluable to your business, and your budget is going toward real data.
Brand awareness really does increase sales and drive revenue. The problem is that our brand awareness campaigns can sometimes look like a waste of time and money to those at the top.
Be clear and concise with your information, present real data and results where you can, set reasonable expectations, and you will likely convince even the most hardened decision maker of your approach.
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