Brand awareness is important when launching new products and services, it drives consumers' decisions when differentiating between competing companies. Brand awareness goes beyond just large companies, how do you think they became well known? In this episode, you’ll learn why building brand awareness is beneficial in any niche.
INTRO: Building a great company is a marathon not a sprint. Each week Krista Ankenman and the team TANK New Media take on growth challenges explore technology and interview business leaders that are always upping their game. If you're ready to build scalable systems to drive your business forward. This podcast is for you.
KRISTA: Hi everyone! Today we are with Thad Ankenman, co-founder of TANK New Media. He has been working in the B2B marketing space since 2004, building up brands and creating awareness, and that's really what we're gonna be talking today is how to create awareness in any niche. Welcome Thad.
THAD: Hey, it's nice to be here.
KRISTA: Great to have you. So let's just start off by just talking a little bit about what is brand awareness in general?
THAD: So brand awareness is basically just who knows about your brand especially within your target audience. What is your awareness in that audience?
KRISTA: Oh ok, so just whatever your niche is how many people know about your company?
THAD: Yeah, well and what do they know about your company. How do they associate your products and services and your brand personality. What terms do you own in their mind?
THAD: You know, do they think you're the cheapest? Do they think you're the best? Hopefully something more unique than that, but you really want to own whatever that category is in their mind. So that's a measure of how much brand awareness you've actually built up in your category.
KRISTA: And why is this important?
THAD: Because when you're top of mind and the problem arises you're more likely to be the solution to that problem and you're more likely to get the sale.
KRISTA: So you're gonna be the first place somebody comes when, you know, they... they're the problem comes up or they need a particular solution.
THAD: Yes, and it has a lot to do with trust as well. Building up brand awareness and being consistent builds trust within your audience. So.
KRISTA: Ok so let's talk a little bit about brand consistency, why is that so important in awareness campaigns?
THAD: Brand consistency and awareness campaigns is very important because they're what makes you stand out there make the repetition is what makes them memorable. And if you're seeing vastly inconsistent messages everywhere then it's not gonna get associated back with your brand in the same way, in a way that they can recall later.
KRISTA: I see so back to your comment of owning the category. You know, if you have a... if you want a phrase or a solution I guess in somebody's mind and you're really consistent with that message, that's what's going to resonate with someone.
KRISTA: So what are some different types of brand awareness campaigns? Like how could somebody, you know, start thinking about executing brand awareness campaigns?
THAD: Well there's lots of different brand awareness campaigns if you're thinking about the consumer side. Think about jingles and things that get stuck in your head.
THAD: You know, if you repeat it enough times then it can get attached to an emotion and you can still recall that feeling even if you don't recall the actual thing that was said. Yeah.
KRISTA: Yeah that makes sense. Oh man those jingles.
THAD: You might not even like the food but you think you love it.
KRISTA: From unmentioned hamburger place. Nice.
THAD: You used to work in hamburger sales.
KRISTA: That's right, that's right. So have you seen any really like cool brand awareness campaigns lately that are kind of outside of the box?
THAD: Um there was a pretty cool one I saw that actually won a Cannes award for the creativity — and it was actually I think Droga5 maybe did it — and it was MailChimp and it was a 2017 campaign called "Did you mean MailChimp?" They identified that their name was a little confusing to people which is a good brand insight for them to have.
THAD: And so this brilliant creative strategy that they came up with to create a bunch of fake businesses with confusing names that sound like MailChimp. This is awesome, so it's like male shrimp, jail blimp, Neil crimp, and so they just created these fake small businesses around them and they were all hilarious. And they got in front of small businesses that they were looking to target creative-minded small businesses for — their basically email marketing tools that, they some other things now — but targeted at small businesses. So what they did was they took these terms that they created and they combined it with a really smart SEO strategy to integrate everything. And so this stuff was all over the internet targeting these groups of people and basically the SEO strategy there was to get people to type in these terms that no one else is looking for. Because they would only know about them if they had seen something in their awareness campaign and so then it is trackable in that situation. They could see the keyword volume and stuff going up which I thought was pretty interesting like beyond just vanity URLs but they had all the stuff built out even. Like I think they made a few short movies that played in theaters where they knew that the population of small business owners would be. And they got people talking about it and they're really funny. So like that's great when you have a brand experience like that as maybe the first exposure, probably not the first exposure in that case is if these people are small businesses I'm sure they've seen something from MailChimp at some point, but this really drove home their their brand positioning and things.
KRISTA: That's really cool and you had mentioned you know overall being able to track awareness campaigns and I know that's something that is relatively tricky to do, you know, do you feel like that's something that's more achievable to do now?
THAD: It's more achievable but we shouldn't get hung up on it so much because just because you can't track every single piece of the campaign doesn't mean that it's not working and inflating your success overall. As long as it's true to your brand and you're putting it out there and to the right people, yes you want to track as much as possible, but it's not going to be as trackable as all of the online stuff.
KRISTA: Yeah and there might be online components but it still might be a little tricky.
THAD: Yeah and this example was great because they can see indicators of how well it was working, right? But it's not all 100% trackable still.
KRISTA: Well according to Marketing Proofs B2B marketers have consistently cited brand awareness as their top goal for over the last five years. So even though it can be really hard to track some of these efforts it seems like it's still really important to a lot of people. You know, and really try to tie some of this back to-to their overall ROI and their marketing spend.
THAD: Yeah, especially like the locally focused ones. Just keep in mind that awareness campaign isn't a big scary thing you have to do it's a huge ad agency and you don't have to have millions of dollars to do awareness campaigns either.
THAD: So in any niche that you can figure out who needs to have top of mind awareness of your brand and find creative ways to get in front of them and just don't try it for the one time. Awareness isn't really created by just one campaign. It's really a way to get the magnet started to getting people into your marketing machine, right? So you pull them in if you know enough about them what campaign they came from, you can figure out follow-ups and automation into your systems to move them on through.
KRISTA: Definitely, and just, you know, a few other ways you know that we've seen over time awareness being tracked, you know, overall surveys, search volumes, even like social listening, you know, as a way if you're creating buzz and are trying to create buzz you know how many people are mentioning your brand? Hopefully in positive ways.THAD: Yeah and if you're a small business and you're doing advertising and you haven't done a lot before, one of the typical numbers that you'll see go up is direct traffic.
KRISTA: Oh yeah absolutely.
THAD: Right? As your people are typing your actual URL into Google.
KRISTA: Definitely, definitely more people know to be able to type that in.
THAD: You can always use vanity URLs or you can use a short segment that's memorable on your URL and track that. People will still just type your name in and then click on a search result too so it's not a hundred percent but overall you should see a lift if you're doing a good awareness campaign.
KRISTA: So I talk to a lot of customers, you know, every day in awareness campaigns or things that come up and-and people just still have a hard time with it. You know, wondering if there is effective as they used to be, what are your thoughts on that?
THAD: I think they're as important as they used to be. Like the specific strategies for how people go about them need to be a little more creative and more integrated than they used to be. You can't just talk to your local radio person and get all the things figured out. Yeah you always think it's like TV and radio, like those are like the go-to awareness vehicles I think. Yeah. For a lot of people. And those are kind of starting to adapt but there's a lot of leftovers from the old way. You know, where businesses used to get yellow pages and you know they used to buy a radio and TV ad and think that they were covered in the area. But now it needs to be more than that like if you're gonna do those things that's fine to spend money on some of that stuff, especially if it really makes sense and you're the type of business that can benefit from a large number of people hearing about you. But they need to be integrated, they need to come to a page where they're going to do something that is going to give them some value and that you can have the information then to continue marketing to them or to at least pixel them so you can retarget them.
KRISTA: Yeah I feel like the old approaches like that spray-and-pray like you — put a bunch of stuff out there and then hope somebody comes back and you know it's good to hear that some of these strategies, I think, are getting a little bit more refined. Where you know there's a little bit more follow up and there's some other things you can do besides just like throwing a message out there and seeing what sticks to the wall.
THAD: Right, I mean we work with a variety of businesses here at TANK New Media. Over the years we've worked with like nonprofits locally, where we did a two year campaign they needed to raise awareness. Now that's not always going to be directly tied to donations and how they heard about you, but, you know, effectively if someone drives past a billboard every day on their way to work they're gonna have a little higher recall than they would have before. And if you combine that with radio and maybe a little bit of Direct Mail that's targeted to different types of donors. It works really well but you couldn't go back and it tribute every little bit of it to that campaign.
KRISTA: So when we think about you know trying to make an effective awareness campaign, are there certain things that it should really consist of? Like it's probably more top of funnel I would guess than somebody who knows they have a problem and they're trying to find a bunch of solutions already, right?
THAD: Yeah I mean it should get your brand story out there if you're looking for a branded type content.
THAD: So the why behind what you're doing, make, it should make people feel comfortable with you as a business not try to push your products or services. If it's showing your parts and services it should be in the light of this is why we're doing it, this is like the quality that we believe in, that type of stuff. Otherwise it should be educational content where it's somebody that's looking to solve a problem, maybe they don't know about your company in that category yet but they might discover you, and maybe you have a podcast or a YouTube channel. Maybe, I don't know, maybe they find you in search results for a blog post about something that's related.
KRISTA: Sure, so it's kind of like who you are, you know, why they should care, like why are you different.
THAD: But that's that's almost like, you have to... that's more of an advertising approach. Like someone that's in market and has been searching for those terms, you may want to put an ad in front of them that explains like who you are, why you do what you do, and how it's better different, but that's really kind of still getting into consideration.
THAD: In decision, but it can work. I think what we're you're trying to get me at is the awareness level content which is really needing to meet the person where they're at in the journey, right? Which is, I think I have a problem, not exactly how to solve it yet, it could be this thing could be that thing. What gets the job done right?
THAD: And then eventually if they start seeing your content at that point that's a really great opportunity for remarketing because then now you know they've read these blog posts, they're interested in solving this problem, you can start showing them and encouraging them about solutions to that problem or additional content.
KRISTA: So if you are trying to help create like a framework for this for our listeners to kind of think about their awareness advertising or content, kind of where would your mind go with that? So let's say they have a specific niche you know that they're going for let's say their manufacturing company they have a really a really niche audience, what would be kind of the path you would steer them down?
THAD: Here at TANK New Media we have clients that that may have as narrow of a niche as like 5000 companies they can even work within the US, right? We don't need to do a bunch of mass advertising for that. We know who we need to be in front of and maybe take more of an account-based marketing approach, which just means that you're really targeting those companies and trying to influence the people at those companies. You're probably doing new business outreach, you might be sending postcards, there's even things like postalitics these days where that's just an email... or a tool that integrates with your other automation system to trigger one-off postcards.
THAD: And direct mail pieces, so like that's different than sending a bulk mail piece out for awareness. Sure. Right, but if you have that small of a target then using your CRM data and things like that and what people maybe have done on the site to trigger a postcard to go out just to get another touch point with them that sort of stuff can work.
THAD: And if you're like the manufacturing example, they may have an enterprise level... list of accounts that they want to get and influence that way. But if they're trying to do it the traditional, from the marketing side, where we don't have that specific list but we know the types of people that would work at these companies and a few different data points about them to be able to target. So they might do a little bit different approach.
KRISTA: Sure, so what really I'm hearing from you is is overall it's determining your niche, if you don't already know it, figuring out who you're trying to talk, to kind of where they spend their time, you know, what they're doing, how you can really create value for that particular customer, and then really kind of using that multi-channel approach. So could you use you know print, and digital, and maybe even some in-person tactics to kind of help gain some additional awareness overall about your brand. Making sure you're being really consistent as well kinda like we talked about.
THAD: That's the hardest part, when you do multi-channel anything because it's not always the same people involved in making this stuff too. So you have to have your brand really defined and consistent so if multiple parties have to work on some of the stuff it can come out in a way that still passes the brand standard.
KRISTA: Absolutely, well thank you so much Thad for spending some time with us today. I think you gave us some really valuable insights and look forward to seeing you again soon.
THAD: Thank you.
KRISTA: This podcast is brought to you by TANK New Media a digital marketing agency that has been generating marketing and sales traction of growth minded B2B organizations since 2009.
Co-founder & VP, Client Services
Krista also has more than a decade of professional experience under her belt. Her expertise lies in graphic design, project management, and digital marketing for both high-profile and growing businesses. Currently, she functions as the VP of Client Services and lead strategist.
Building a great company is a marathon, not a sprint. Each week Krista Ankenman and her team at TANK New Media take on growth challenges, explore technology, and interview business leaders dedicated to growing better through continuous improvement. If you’re ready to build repeatable and scalable systems to drive your business forward, this podcast is for you.
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