The digital shift is in full swing, so disseminating valuable content to grow a business and attract and nurture leads should be part of every marketing strategy. In this week’s blog we discuss the topic and look at 8 ways to use content online to boost brand awareness.
There’s a vital step in growing a business that many B2B business owners miss when they start out – creating brand awareness. Instead, they jump straight into sales mode, run marketing campaigns, and wonder why the work isn’t pouring in. Now you’re probably thinking ‘but don’t marketing campaigns create that awareness?’ Yes, they do, but it’s a very expensive and slow way to get there if you’re a small business and your budget for marketing campaigns is closer to $0 than to the annual salary you had before you started your business. So let’s delve into the problem and the solution.
What do we mean by brand awareness?
You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘brand recognition’ often enough, but we tend to associate this term with big brands and it’s tempting to ignore it on the assumption that as a small business, we’re a very long way from being a ‘recognised brand’. That might be true but so is this: as a small B2B, you need to put a monumental effort into creating initial brand awareness – getting people to know you exist at all! That’s because:
- The obvious: if prospective clients don’t know you exist, they can’t make an enquiry.
- As consumers, we feel safer dealing with a name we recognise – and we can only ‘recognise’ something the second and subsequent times we see it.
- You aren’t going to be stampeded by consumers the first time they see your brand – they’re more likely to go with a competitor who’s spent more time establishing their brand in the market, who they know and trust.
- Prospective clients who’ve seen your brand several times are more likely to enquire, and more likely to convert.
You’re going to have to work hard to pull in business.
So how do you create brand awareness without selling your house?
There’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to invest time and money, but by making clever choices, you can keep the cost to a minimum.
There are some simple strategies – like having eye-catching signage at your business premises and on a vehicle – that can work wonders and will be an initial investment that keeps giving. You can also increase your personal and brand profile locally via speaking engagements, active participation in your local community, or sponsoring a local charity or sports team. But there’s another strategy that can reach well past your local audience and put your business name in front of thousands of people very quickly, and that’s using content to spread the word online.
8 ways to use content online to boost brand awareness
1. Use your blog
Post regularly on your website blog – but first, develop a strategy that will work. Merely writing about topics that might interest potential clients is hit and miss. Get serious and undertake topic and trend research. Armed with information about how many people are searching for information on related topics, you’ll be well placed to create specific blog topic ideas that are likely to attract interest and therefore traffic to your site. Then you need to keep at it consistently and be sure to promote your blog posts on social media channels. If writing, researching and using social media aren’t your all-time favourite activities, you can engage a content marketing agency to take you from content strategy creation to posting and promoting your blog on social media channels.
2. Be a guest blogger on someone else’s site
How many people currently visit your website? If you’ve just started out the numbers are probably low. Look to leverage your reach off someone else’s traffic!
The key to this strategy is to a) ensure you share a target market with the site you will be posting on; b) before you even ask about guest blogging, use a free site traffic estimator to get an idea of how many site visitors they have monthly. Aim for a site with over 10,000 visitors and the more the better. It’s not an exact science, but a good indicator of a website’s traffic is its social media following, so check its pages as a start (keep in mind that some platforms are better suited to certain industries than others, for example, Instagram is image-centric platform will always appeal to the retail sector). You’ll also want to ensure they are happy to have you listed as the post author and include a link to your website, or at the very least, an author bio.
3. Get on LinkedIn
For B2B and professional services, there’s no better social platform than LinkedIn, but most of us simply don’t make the most of it. You can publish on LinkedIn Pulse, share updates, seek new connections, join groups, share content and contribute to discussions on relevant topics. And don’t forget the most basic strategy of all – spend some time viewing the profiles of people who might be interested in your services. Many LinkedIn members regularly check to see who’s been viewing their profile, so at least some will take a look at your profile to see who you are in return.
And every time someone does that, hey presto – you’ve just made another person or company ‘aware’ of your brand.
4. Create exceptionally helpful content
Consider creating a downloadable white paper or eBook, or a template or checklist that your prospective clients will value. You can set up your website to capture email addresses and grow your database as people sign up to receive each item.
5. Stay in touch
Once you’ve grown your database, stay in touch – send regular newsletters filled with interesting or helpful snippets. The arrival of a newsletter often prompts or reminds people to place an order, and at the very least, you’re keeping your brand name alive in their mind, making it more likely they’ll think of you when they do need your services, or even forward your details to someone else they know.
6. Create press releases
Done something newsworthy? If you win a business award or secure an important contract, there’s no harm in getting the word out. Stories about your business create brand awareness. The key is to a) ensure that your announcement is truly newsworthy, even if that’s only on a local level, b) create a professional press release and c) arrange for it to be distributed to an appropriate media list.
Many business owners create a press release and then don’t know what to do with it. However, you can join a subscription site like Medianet and pay for your own distribution, or you can engage a professional writing or content marketing service to write the release and distribute it for you. Releases sent out via sites like Medianet can reach major television networks and newspapers, local papers, radio, and magazines.
7. Contribute to industry publications
Can you think of any digital publications that sections of your target market might read regularly? Some industry-specific and business-related digital magazines reach tens of thousands of subscribers. What would it do for your brand awareness if you were a regular contributor? Again, you don’t need to be a polished writer to do this – you can pay a service to come up with the idea and create the articles for you.
8. Create branded videos or infographics
Videos and infographics are very shareable and can keep working for you long after you’ve created them. The key as with all other content is to present a solution to a common problem your market has, to establish credibility and gain trust.
Whatever strategies you adopt to create brand awareness one thing should apply to everything you do – be generous! Don’t be frightened to share your expertise to help others. You’ll be remembered favourably for it and it can go a long way to making you a ‘go-to’ person when someone has a question or a problem that relates to your business activities.
For Bartercard members, utilising member services that can help you to build brand awareness and market your business is one of the most effective ways to spend your trade dollars.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to deal with change and other business-related matters, why not check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Small Business Owners – and work smarter, not harder on your business.