The very first step to reaching potential clients is making them aware of your existence. People trust in the things they know, so a prospect who is unfamiliar with your brand is less likely to trust it (and ultimately less likely to make a purchase). This is why building brand awareness is so important, and yet it’s one of the top challenges that many marketers face.
Fortunately, there are many very simple things you can do to introduce and familiarize people with your company’s brand. Here are 10 creative online and offline brand awareness ideas you can use to improve your brand awareness in 2018 and beyond.
10 Creative Online and Offline Brand Awareness Ideas for 2018
1. Start a referral program
Referral programs are one of the most cSost-effective ways to make people more cognizant of your brand because involves marketing to them through a source they already trust: their own friends and family. Offer your existing customers a referral if they send others your way. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant; a gift card or coupon code will be enough to convince plenty. You could also offer expanded options or capabilities, similar to how Dropbox offers increased storage space to their referrers.
Keep in mind that a referral program isn’t something you just set up once and then forget about. You’ll need to constantly update and optimize it to make sure you’re maximizing the number of referrals you get. You’ll also need to make sure your customers are aware the referral program exists in the first place. Advertise the program on social media, through email, or with printed materials given to customers with each purchase.
2. Set a challenge
YouTube is chock-full of people trying out meme-ified stunts and other “challenges.” This has the potential to go horribly wrong, as in the case of the life-threatening Tide Pod Challenge (which parent company Procter & Gamble has tried to counteract). But it can also be a positive force for good, like with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which helped increase awareness of the neurological disease.
Consider creating a challenge of your own and encouraging social media users to record and post their results. Be careful not to ask your audience to do anything dangerous; even the Cinnamon Challenge that went viral in the 2000s was ultimately a serious health hazard. If your product is something based around personal wellness (such as nutrition or mental health), this is a perfect opportunity; challenge users to try out your product for a set period of time and share how they’ve improved.
3. Hold a competition
Contests and competitions are among the most effective ways to raise brand awareness, but it’s important that the prize be something related to your business. Again, it doesn’t need to be something really expensive like a car or a vacation; a discount or a free product will work in most cases. Find a good balance between cost and value; your prize shouldn’t take up too much of your budget, but it has to be something that your audience will want.
Contests are relatively simple to run, especially on social media. Keep the barrier of entry as low as possible; don’t ask for a lot of invasive personal information. When promoting the contest, use bright, eye-popping images to seize the audience’s attention.
4. Partner with a local business
Two heads are better than one, and the same can be said for cooperation between businesses. But if you partner with someone, it’s important that their values and community match your own; otherwise, you’ll be reaching out to an audience that isn’t likely to respond well. It’s best to partner with a company that specializes in an industry similar to yours. For instance, if you sell fragrant candles, you might partner with an aromatic soap company since they’ll cater to a similar audience.
Business partnerships might include a cross-company referral program or discount, or it could involve co-sponsoring an event or local sports team. Try multiple avenues of approach so that you can keep the relationship strong. If the partnership isn’t working out, don’t be afraid to cut them loose; a partnership is only valuable so long as you’re getting something out of it, after all.
5. Send direct mail
This is an old standby, but that’s only because it gets results. Direct mail is more intimate, personal, and likely to make an emotional connection than email. What’s more, even though it’s a “classic” method, there are still plenty of opportunities to be innovative.
Draw extra attention to your mail pieces with creatively designed envelopes. Try something more complex than simply printing your business’s logo. For instance, an all-over printed photo related to your brand could help attract attention from your audience. You can also incorporate more modern and high-tech elements into your mail pieces, such as QR codes or USB sticks.
6. Create guest posts
If your company has a blog, you probably already create informative content on a regular basis. But unless your blog is truly prolific, it can only take you so far when it comes to brand awareness. This is where guest blogging comes in; creating content for other sites can help you reach an entirely new audience as well as build goodwill with a fellow creator. In a way, it works very similarly to partnering with other businesses—but your partner doesn’t need to offer a tangible “product” other than the content they publish.
After a blogger publishes your guest post, consider offering them a chance to create a post on your blog as well. Not only will this help return the favor, it may also provide you a benefit if they direct their audience to your site.
7. Design an infographic
Some audiences prefer to engage with content that is highly visual. Infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles and get liked and shared three times more than other types of content.
That makes them a major asset when it comes to making people aware of your brand. Make sure your infographic is closely related to your product or industry. For instance, if you’re marketing a day spa, consider making a graphic that details the health benefits of regular massages.
It’s most common for marketers to post infographics on a blog, but other channels have potential, too. Consider incorporating your infographic into your company’s newsletter (either print or email). This will make it much more likely for recipients to share with others.
8. Record a podcast
Podcasting might not be in the forefront of your mind when it comes to marketing your business. But like a blog or infographic, a podcast is really just another form of content, and it’s also one of the fastest growing forms of media. If you (or someone on your team) have a decent voice and something valuable to say, this could be a great way to increase your brand awareness.
Try discussing trends, news, or other information related to your industry. Don’t treat your podcast as a lecture; speak to your audience in a friendly, personable way. You can also invite guests onto your podcast; not only does this have the potential to make your content more engaging, it can attract your guest’s fans to your podcast and brand as well.
9. Form an experience
“Experience” might sound like a bit of a vague term, but experiential marketing is a strategy you’re probably already familiar with. It comprises any sort of “live” marketing event that happens in the real world, such as flash mobs, live-action games, or viral pranks. Experiential campaigns can be interactive, such as Refinery 29’s stylish funhouse, or they can be something that audiences are meant to simply observe, like the viral “telekinetic surprise” stunt created for the remake of Carrie.
The power of experiences is that they get people talking, and not just for a few days or months. The Carrie prank happened several years ago, and it still gets reblogged even today. If you want to create an effective experiential campaign, you’ll have to go big or go home. You also can’t simply create your experience and expect your brand awareness to increase on its own. Amplify your reach by documenting the experience through video or photos and promoting it on social media.
10. Join an organization
Becoming a part of your city’s Chamber of Commerce or another organization based around local businesses can provide you with many helpful resources. The group can feature you on their website as well as help promote your company’s news and upcoming events.
Being a Chamber member can even make other brand awareness tactics easier. For instance, you’re much more likely to find a suitable business to partner with at an event dedicated to local businesses. If nothing else, it’s always helpful to confer with other business owners, trading experiences and strategies for optimal marketing.
With dozens of screens, images and brands competing for our attention every day, maintaining brand awareness can sometimes feel like an insurmountable challenge. But the trick is to approach people in ways they don’t expect. Be bold, and the engagement will follow.
See also: How A Brand Book Can Help Your Social Media Strategy