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April 4, 2017

The 3 Cardinal Rules of Building Awareness

A simple fact: Potential buyers can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist… or if you never come to mind for them.

So, whatever your marketing & sales plans, strategies or tactics… it all starts with being known. That is, it all starts with building awareness. Period.

And what do we all do about that? We, of course, implement actions like:

  • SEO
  • Advertising
  • Social media
  • Networking & exhibiting
  • Email marketing
  • Speaking & writing
  • Selling activities

And so on…

Those are all good things, to be sure… but before you invest the time and money to implement them, make sure your awareness building has some strategy behind it. Make sure these 3 cardinal rules are being followed:

Fish where the fish are.

I am amazed to see, at a number of our industry conferences, speakers who are presenting to an audience made up largely of other firms just like them… i.e. their competitors. Why? Or posting social media comments in LinkedIn groups also made up primarily of their competitors. Again, why? If you know who your potential buyers are (and I’m pretty sure they’re not your competitors) then build your awareness where they spend their time.

Advertise in the publications that they read. Join and post to the LinkedIn groups that they belong to. Exhibit and network at the conferences they attend. Write articles for the websites and blogs that they read.

There’s certainly no way to keep your competitors from reading or listening to you… so don’t worry about them. Instead, worry about finding those pockets of your potential buyers and then figure out how to talk to them.

Be known for something.

‘Being known’ is the goal, for sure. But being some name on a list doesn’t help you much. You want to be known… and known for something. For example, would you want to be known as “a research firm up in Chicago” or “a research firm up in Chicago that specializes in concept testing for CPG firms?”

How do you make that happen? First, make sure you’re fishing where the fish are… then make sure your marketing communications helps to position you in their eyes the way you want to be positioned.

So, following on the Chicago example above… set up concept testing keywords in your SEO efforts, write concept testing-related blog posts, develop an elevator pitch about your expertise in concept testing, make concept testing-related posts in your social media activity and so on.

Get there and stay there.

Building awareness is all about getting to that top-of-mind position with your potential buyers. And that’s hard enough.

But what’s even harder is staying there.

And what that means is that after all of your awareness building effort, time and money… you’re just getting started. It means you need to have in place a program of on-going activities that keep you top-of-mind. For example:

  • Don’t run just one ad and hope it works. You’ll need to plan and run a series of ads.
  • Don’t write just one blog post… write one or two a month and then keep it up.
  • What about social posting? Think about doing it ‘daily’ and think about all of the places you could and should be posting.

Slack off on these efforts and one of your competitors will happily slide in behind you to take your place in the minds of your buyers.


Building awareness is a foundational piece in your marketing & sales efforts. And as we discussed above, it’s not all that simple. So, take a look at your marketing & sales plan and make sure you’ve focused much of it on building awareness… and make sure you follow these rules.

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