Two weeks ago, I went to the 25th Annual Franklin (TN) Jazz Festival. Were it not for a tiny little nugget in the sidebar of an email I received, I would not have even known it was going on. Sadly, as evidenced by the size of the crowd, I was not alone in that regard.
This past weekend, the Country Music Marathon took place – one of the 10 largest events of its kind in the U.S. – with more than 27,000 runners. It’s a big deal. And I only heard about it 2-3 days prior.
Why is that? Why do these important community events – with access to a lot of local marketing channels that you and I don’t have – do such a lousy job of promoting their presence? Is it because they’ve been around for a while and just assume that everyone knows about them? Is it a money issue? Is it a knowledge issue?
Yes, I’m trying to draw a parallel between these events and your business. The bottom line is this… people can’t do business with you if they don’t know you exist… or more likely, remember you exist (key takeaway: staying top of mind is just as important as getting there in the first place).
So, to ensure that you become known and stay known, here are the top 10 ways to build awareness…
- Website: Everything starts with your website. It’s the first place a sales prospect is likely to learn about your firm. It needs to be great! And it needs to show up when a prospect Googles relevant terms, so pay attention to Search Engine Optimization.
- Social media: There are two ways to build awareness on social media…
- Activity: Lots of activity – just make sure all those posts and tweets deliver some kind of value to potential readers and are not trying to sell something.
- Engagement: Social media marketing isn’t just about posting, it’s also about engagement… for example, starting or participating in a threaded conversation on a relevant topic inside of a LinkedIn Group. In addition to getting your name out there (i.e. building awareness), delivering good comments in the thread also positions you as a subject matter expert.
- Emails: Email marketing has been around for a long time… it’s cost-effective, measureable and gets results. Create and send a regularly-scheduled (start with monthly) e-newsletter that provides access to valuable information. If you make it salesy, you’ll lose readers.
- Networking: Nothing creates a connection with a prospective contact quite like “pressing the flesh.” But like everything else, there’s a process, particularly in the way you deliver your elevator speech.
- Writing: Sharing your knowledge – on your website or blog or in an industry publication or blog – is a great way to build awareness for you and your firm. Fresh, relevant content is also a key factor in SEO. And there are extra benefits… by presenting useful information, you position yourself and your firm as experts in the area you’re writing about. Further, when done under the umbrella of an industry publication, you also benefit from an ‘implied endorsement’ of that organization.
- Speaking: Like writing (#5), public speaking is another proven way of building awareness for you and your firm… and that’s not all. Speaking has the added benefit of giving your listeners the opportunity to get to know you a little, to get a sense of your personality. And if the presentation is in-person (not virtual), they also have the chance to meet with you before or afterward, further enhancing the get-to-know-you facet.
- Exhibiting: Exhibiting at a conference is the only place in our industry where the potential buyers come to you. Exhibit at the right events, have a compelling booth presence and you can build awareness across a large targeted groups of attendees – even with those who might not stop by your booth.
- Advertising/listings: Advertising can have such a broad reach that it can help you connect with potential clients that might not have heard of you otherwise… or that you might never have heard of. But make sure you advertise in the vehicles (magazines, e-newsletters, websites, directories, etc.) used by your target market.
- Get involved: A somewhat different way of building awareness is to get involved with an industry association. Volunteer your time to help with conferences, member education or publications. Not only will you get to know others leaders in that association, you’ll build a reputation as a ‘doer’ and someone who gives of themselves. You’ll also gain the added benefit of a little “insider information” on things happening in the association.
- Press Releases: The vast majority of industry publications and blogs still accept information via press release. There are two keys for success: 1. Deliver information that the editors think will provide value to their readers (do not sell) and 2. Build and maintain a list of key editorial contacts in the industries you serve.
We hope you follow these top 10 ways to build awareness… and as you do, keep two things in mind:
- As we mentioned before, building awareness has two phases: getting to the top-of-mind position with your sales prospects… and then staying Which means, to be successful, awareness building can’t be a one-time thing… it must be an on-going initiative.
- Be patient. Amidst all of the clutter and all of your competitors, building awareness will take time. Stick with it. Be persistent and consistent and you will be successful.
Good luck and good marketing.