Awareness and the Purchase Funnel

Why awareness is critical to brand communications

Here’s how to build and raise your brand awareness – if customers are not aware of you, you’re not even in the game. But the higher the awareness the better chances of success.

There are three measures of brand health – Awareness, Attitude and Usage (AAU). But foremost of all is awareness.

Awareness – first step to sales

Brand awareness features in a group of models called ‘hierarchy of effects models.’  There are a number of these from the very simple to the complex, however they all follow a similar linear sequence. The important fact is that they highlight steps in the sales process which every businessperson will be familiar with (AIDA and DAGMAR).

Step 1: Awareness – the customer becomes aware of your brand and offering.

Step 2: Knowledge building – the customer learns more about your product or service.

Step 3: Disposition – The customer takes a liking or dislike of your offering.

Step 4: Preference – the customer may make establish a preference for your offering over that of competitors.

Step 5: Desire – the customer actively wants what you have to offer.

Step 6: Purchase – you have made that sale.

You will often see this progression shortened to three or four steps, particularly in sales: Awareness > Knowledge > Desire > Purchase. It also forms part of a cycle, where purchase leads to satisfaction, then to loyalty and on to advocacy. Advocates say good things about the brand which raises awareness in other people, and so the cycle continues.

The important factor is the starting point in all this – awareness. Sometimes people get brand awareness too confused with brand names and logos – brand recall. But more important is knowing what the offer is – it could be, ‘That big office on the high street,’ or ‘The tea in the red packet.’

Making awareness happen

Without awareness though, none of the other steps to purchase can happen. So how does awareness happen? You can sit back and just wait for word to leak out. But without those first customers to experience your offering, that isn’t going to happen. Most brands need to engage in some form of communications to put their brand on the radar. Typical routes may include:

  • Advertising – press, broadcast (TV and Radio), posters etc.
  • Direct Marketing – direct mail, leaflet drops, email marketing
  • PR – press and public relations. Soliciting stories in the media – earned content
  • Website and web promotion – pay-per-click campaigns and SEO
  • Social media
  • Content marketing

Rising above the noise

Of course, you are not the only brand seeking to raise awareness out there. Everybody is shouting to be heard. You need to be smart for secure your share of voice or it can take a long time (or a lot of money) to build the awareness you want.

If you concentrate upon difference you will have a head start. Clearly differentiating your offer – not just in what you do, but how you do it, can be a winning strategy. Creativity is key.  You may have a family saloon car, but creativity can put a souped up turbo under the bonnet.

Here are a few thoughts based upon successful approaches used by some big brands, which you can use.

  • Build a brand personality – a tried and trusted approach. Think, Ronald McDonald, Captain Birdseye, the Dulux dog and a knitted monkey. Insurance may not be the most exciting business – but look how much awareness has been built from using Meerkats, strutters and builders.
  • Create a unique place – somewhere special for your brand to live. This approach goes back decades, from Marlboro Country to the Planet Zanussi.
  • Use someone else’s fame – okay using famous personalities is expensive, and risky. However, there are characters in our shared culture who can be pressed into use. People who already have awareness built in – historical figures: Nelson, Shakespeare, Napoleon. People from myth and fairy-tales: Hercules, Cinderella, Unicorns.
  • Take an oblique view – if you manufacture, say, hammers, in a trade publication you can guarantee most of your competitors will use pictures of their hammers. Instead, why not use the perspective of the nail? You will stand out and gain more that your share of awareness.
  • Have fun – if you have fun, you convey that to your audience and they will remember that good feeling.

 

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