Brand awareness creates a huge strategic advantage for businesses. It’s the ultimate goal of any marketing endeavor. When potential customers think of the products that you sell, you want them to think of your brand first. That type of brand association helps customers to check out your offering first before they spend time analyzing your competition.
But brand awareness can be a tough nut to crack. Even pinpointing exactly what it is and how it is fostered can be difficult. The majority of surveyed companies say their brand is a key intangible asset, while 77% of marketers say that a strong brand is critical to their growth plans.
Brand awareness is about knowing your target audience and getting the right marketing materials in front of them at the right time. Brand awareness-building campaigns focus less on direct sales and more on educating, storytelling, and endearing your brand to a specific audience.
Table of contents
- What is Brand Awareness?
- How do Brand Awareness Campaigns Differ from Performance Marketing?
- Benefits of Building Brand Awareness
- Why Is Direct Mail the Perfect Channel for Building Brand Awareness?
- 4 Ideas for Building Brand Awareness with Direct Mail
- Direct Mail is a Powerful Tool for Building Brand Awareness
What is Brand Awareness?
In short, brand awareness is the extent to which your brand is known and recognized by potential customers. It is the level to which your brand is associated with your industry and product.
You Want To Be Kleenex
The best examples of brand awareness are those where the brand becomes synonymous with a product category or industry.
If someone were to ask you for a “Kleenex,” you would know that they needed a tissue. Kleenex’s brand awareness is so strong that the brand name of its product has become synonymous with the product name itself. There are still others in the space, but awareness of their brand pales in comparison to Kleenex. When people know something, they tend to gravitate towards it. The same is true for brands.
Why Do You Want Brand Awareness?
There are many benefits to brand awareness:
- You stand out from the competition
- Your buyers trust you more
- Your cost of generating sales is lower
- Your sales are easier, and your market share is higher
Building Brand Awareness Is Hard
But knowing what brand awareness is doesn’t mean that you can build it. Building brand awareness requires that you use a different creativity muscle than simply running profitable direct-response advertising campaigns. Brand voice, positioning, and exposure all play a bigger role in growing brand awareness within your industry.
How much should you spend on branding?
Companies are currently spending 59.9% of their budgets on short-term performance, compared to 40.1% on long-term brand building, despite respondents believing an ideal split should be close to 50/50, according to the latest research from CMO Survey.
Interestingly, B2B companies are reportedly allocating more to brand-building than B2C companies.
Despite marketing departments collaborating well with Sales/Distribution, Operations/Production, and IT/Digital, their partnerships with Finance and Human Resources seem weaker in terms of brand-building.
While brand development is considered vital for success, companies rate themselves lower on current effectiveness levels. Strong customer-focused purpose, brand as a key intangible asset, and senior leadership as brand representatives have highly embraced branding concepts, whereas a strong planet-focused purpose and employee evaluations aren’t perceived to be strongly linked to brand promise.
How do Brand Awareness Campaigns Differ from Performance Marketing?
Brand awareness campaigns are less concerned with outright sales than typical direct response campaigns. Sure, your ultimate goal is to increase sales for your business. But brand awareness campaigns focus less on the immediate and look more to the future. You want your company to be the first that comes to a person’s mind whenever they think about your service or product.
A few key differences between brand awareness campaigns and typical performance marketing campaigns include:
- Brand awareness campaigns often feature storytelling. If you want people to know and respect your brand, they have to know something about you as people and as a collective. What does your brand represent? Who is your brand made up of? What drives you? What are your organizational goals? A deeper understanding of your brand is required for true brand awareness and that can be effectively accomplished through storytelling. Share personal stories and give your brand a face to establish deeper, more personal connections.
- Education is a priority. If you want people to love your brand, you connect them with information that they find valuable. This builds trust and respect. Over time, continually educating your audience with valuable insights and content will position you as an industry leader and grow your brand awareness organically.
- Sales are less of a concern. Generating leads and sales are often not the main priority of awareness-building campaigns. Sure, getting some leads and sales out of a brand awareness campaign are a nice bonus, but not the point. Often, campaigns that focus on awareness building will not even mention a product or call the user to a sales action.
- More focus on community. Customers love community-centric brands. When you sponsor a local event or give back to your community (and this could apply to online communities as well), you earn the respect of your customers and become a brand that they are more likely to remember. If Ed’s Plumbing sponsored your local little league, don’t you think parents of children that play in the league might be more likely to think of Ed the next time they have a leak?
Brand awareness campaigns are more about building connections and less about outright sales. They attempt to establish your brand as a reliable industry voice that customers and prospects recognize and rely upon. Remember, it takes an average of 5-7 interactions before a customer remembers a brand.
Benefits of Building Brand Awareness
For smaller companies, the idea of investing money into brand awareness campaigns can be a bit daunting. It’s easy to see why they might see it as throwing money out into the void with no guarantee of a return. Especially if they are used to running campaigns that are primarily sales-focused.
However, there are some serious long-term benefits to building brand awareness that result in measurable ROI across your business. Building brand awareness is a long-term strategy, but one that will pay off for your business for years to come.
Some of the specific benefits that come from building brand awareness include:
- Nurture leads and staying top of mind. While you may not be selling products directly in brand awareness campaigns, you are still promoting your business and making more people aware of your offers. Building brand awareness is critical for putting your company in a position to capitalize on interested prospects at a later date. Download a free “Top Of Mind” direct mail/email cadence.
- Create Brand Advocates. Having strong brand awareness brings customers into the fold that are more likely to be loyal. Not only that — strong brand awareness also acts as a form of social proof. When others know and talk about your brand, your own customers will be more likely to talk about it and recommend it. An increase in awareness of your brand will help you turn interested prospects into loyal customers.
- Effectively Launch New Products and Services. When your target market is aware of your brand, it makes it much easier to launch new products and services successfully. You have built-in trust and understanding with your key prospects, and that trust translates to early sales for new product lines.
- Differentiate Your Business from the Competition. Building brand awareness will help you to stand out from your competition. Your prospects will be more aware of the stories, goals, and vision that shapes your business. By including personal anecdotes and allowing your prospects to inside the day-to-day of your business, you allow them to establish a more personal connection with your brand. It’s with that connection that you can truly stand out from the competition.
In short, brand awareness makes marketing, sales, and even daily operations easier. It puts you in a position to truly scale among your target market and develop real relationships with valuable customers who later become your most ardent brand advocates.
Why Is Direct Mail the Perfect Channel for Building Brand Awareness?
Now, with an understanding of what brand awareness is and why it is so important to build, we can begin to look at why direct mail might just be the perfect channel for building it.
Direct mail “involves more emotional processing than other channels, which is important for memory and brand associations.” (Source: Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail) @K_MillwardBrown
In today’s marketing landscape, you can see brand awareness campaigns being run on all channels and mediums. But direct mail creates a sensation among your audience that can be hard to replicate on other channels.
Mail Is A Tactile, Personal Experience
If the goal of brand awareness marketing is to build trust, then direct mail is the perfect channel. You interact with direct mail in your home or at your desk, when you want and how you want. You hold it in your hands, often picking it up and putting it down while you scan and sort it.
According to studies, direct mail recipients exhibit stronger brand recall than those exposed only to digital ads. It makes sense — when you use your senses to interact with media in a place where you are very comfortable, it will make a strong impression.
The Power of Storytelling
Humans connect with stories. They feel closer to a brand when they know the story behind the brand for the same reason that the personal stories of professional athletes can motivate them to root for them. It’s why we all love an underdog.
Direct mail is an amazing platform for storytelling. First, the visible and tangible nature of direct mail collateral can make the ideas conveyed feel more visceral and real. The letter format lets you speak to your customers as if you were writing them a personal letter, a medium that can make for some very compelling storytelling in your brand-building efforts.
Direct mail is visual. Images give us another medium for storytelling. Effective visual storytelling can reinforce our words and help to drive home specific images with readers.
Direct Mail Has Few Distractions
When customers interact with direct mail, they are less likely to be multitasking in the same way that they would on other channels. They aren’t browsing their phone while they watch TV. They aren’t checking their email while they are stopped at a stoplight. They don’t hear ad while they are merging on the freeway.
Direct mail recipients are locked-in and paying attention, on the whole. Often they pick up mail on their way in from their day. Reading mail is ritualistic for many, something they do when they first walk into the door.
Direct mail is a more intimate experience that smart brands want to participate in. It requires that your recipients make the decision to open your mailpiece. It’s a small commitment, but much more so than opening an email or viewing an ad on Facebook. In some way, they may feel obligated to at least give your mail a scan. The decision to read is made when they decide to open the mail — you just have to keep their attention.
Establish a Personal Connection
Direct mail is a more personal medium. Mail is addressed directly to the recipient. Using platforms like Postalytics, you can inject all sorts of personalization into your direct mail marketing campaigns.
Direct mail is simply more likely to grab and keep their attention than other channels. Then the fact that brand awareness campaigns are less likely to be so focused on selling something allows you to establish some initial trust and grow awareness organically.
Easy to Process
Did you know that there is actually a scientific reason why direct mail is more impactful than other channels? A study that used eye-tracking and brain imaging technology compared the differences between subjects that looked at direct mail and digital advertisements. The study found that direct mail advertisements were easier for the brain to process and more memorable.
The scan showed that it takes 21% less thought to understand and process direct mail compared to digital advertisements. The test also showed that brains digest the information presented through direct mail more quickly.
4 Ideas for Building Brand Awareness with Direct Mail
Now let’s bring brand awareness-building campaigns to life. In this section, we’ll cover some simple ideas that companies can use to build awareness in local areas and within their industry.
Deliver Educational Content
Delivering high-value educational content to your prospects is a great way to develop trust, grow awareness, and position your brand as an authority within your industry. Direct mail makes a great medium for delivering educational content and increasing the likelihood that your audience takes it seriously.
Delivering reports, workbooks, guides, white papers, and other educational materials through direct mail without asking for anything in return is a great way to build brand awareness and trust with your audience. You aren’t asking them to buy anything. You are just providing them with valuable resources based on what you’ve learned about them.
Interesting Graphics and Other Media
Direct mail is a very visual medium. In the same way that you can deliver educational content in written form, you can also deliver it visually through direct mail as well. Infographics are a very popular brand awareness tool in digital marketing, and there is no reason why the same principles wouldn’t apply to direct mail campaigns.
Try sending mailpieces that present vital information visually to increase brand awareness and position your company as a thought leader in your space. If the information is valuable and the mailpiece looks great, it could become something that they hang onto, which keeps your business in front of them for as long as they have it.
Word-of-mouth marketing plays a big role in building brand awareness. When people talk about your brand, others become aware of it. As their awareness grows, they are more likely to tell others as well. It’s a snowball — it gains speed as it rolls downhill.
A referral program provides your customers with additional incentives to talk about your brand and recommend it to others. That incentive can come in the form of commission, discounts, freebies, etc.
Direct mail is a powerful channel for growing referral programs. You can mail them marketing materials like business cards, brochures, discount coupons, and product spec sheets that they can give to others to help promote your business and improve your awareness within your target market.
Another great idea is to run joint campaigns with complementary businesses in your local area. If you run a driveway power washing business, it might make sense for you to partner with a gutter cleaning company to provide a broader home cleaning service. You can piggyback off of the brand awareness of other companies in your industry and use each others’ audience to grow mutually.
Direct Mail is a Powerful Tool for Building Brand Awareness
Direct mail is an exceptional channel for building brand awareness. The personal, tangible nature of direct mail makes it an ideal channel for delivering content and experiences that will stick with your target audience.