How to create a brand awareness strategy for your small business

4 minute read

If your company was a person, what kind of person would it be? Your small business has a personality, goals and qualities that make it unique. You need to tell others what those are and constantly reinforce that message with every communication. Here’s why – and how – to get people talking about you.

Build brand awareness

People talk about brand awareness all the time, but what is it exactly? It’s a measure of how quickly people recognize your brand and how much they know about what you do. One way to gauge it is to ask yourself: when people see your company logo, do they think “Oh, right, I know them,” or do they wonder “who’s that?” If people don’t know your brand, they can’t buy from you.

Brand awareness also includes a person’s ability to recall your business without being prompted by your logo or advertising. Specifically, when they’re in the market for whatever you sell (clothes, toys, makeup, craft beer, anything), do they check your offerings before making a purchase?

How to build brand recognition

Figuring out how to get more brand awareness is an ongoing exercise. There isn’t a point when you’re done and everything you do has an impact. From marketing and advertising to the branded t-shirts you and your employees wear in your store(s), to your social media posts and your customer service — it’s all part of your brand awareness strategy. Need some help? Consider the following.

Choose a social media channel and own it

Your product(s) will tell you which channel is best. If visuals matter most (because you sell fashion, housewares, anything related to pets, etc.), Instagram is your best bet. If expertise and learning are important for your product(s) (because you sell electronics, for example), Twitter could be the way to go.

No matter the channel, focus on creating shareable content – not just driving sales. Try to trigger an emotional response, so your audience associates you with more than just products and services. You could:

  • Provide info relevant to people within the same area as your brick-and-mortar store – if you have one.
  • Give a shout out to other companies or charities doing good things.
  • Rally around your community and the issues that matter to them. Parents want to know about education and extracurriculars, environmentalists are interested in lowering their carbon footprint and local recycling initiatives and foodies might want recipes.

Whether you’re reaching gardeners, pet owners or wine enthusiasts, look for ways to deliver insights – not just products.

Choose the right marketing mix for your business.

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Stand for something

People may be more likely to choose you over a competitor if supporting your small business also supports their values. That could be buying products that are local, fair trade, good for the environment or aligned with a charity. It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference.

You’re a business first and foremost – you sell what you sell. But if you or your employees support causes that are close to your heart, it never hurts to highlight them in your marketing messages. Do you run charity races, donate to shelters, volunteer or include a carbon offset for your deliveries? Was any of your packaging chosen with the environment in mind? Perhaps you use recycled materials. Whatever it is, spell it out on your website; hashtag it on social media; and reference it in newsletters, order confirmations and other emails.

Start a referral program

If your current customers are happy with your product(s) – including delivery and any service-related questions – they’ll be willing to recommend you to others. If you offer them something in return – a small discount on future purchases for example – they’ll be more likely to make that introduction.

Closing another sale is great, but landing a second happy customer is even better. Building a loyal customer base is the ultimate goal. You’re spreading the word and generating brand awareness.

Share your story

People want to support small businesses with a mission, led by committed owners who are hardworking and are part of their community. Show how your business does those things and people will be more likely to remember your brand and share your story. These strategies can help:

Tell your origin story

Why did you start your company, and who are the people behind your business? Prospective customers care about that – don’t you gravitate to the About Us section on websites? There’s a reason that section is expected.

Your story distinguishes you from the competition and is one way to establish credibility and trust. The more people know about you, the more comfortable they’ll be transacting with you – especially the first time.

Provide ongoing COVID-19 updates

When the pandemic hit, you probably had to make changes to the way you operate. Did you revamp your store, allowing for social distancing and safe curbside pickup? Maybe it was your back-end operations that needed changes. Document your COVID-19 adjustments in photos or videos and share them, describe the work you did, show people all you’ve done to make them safe and allow your business to carry on. Social media is your best friend here since you can update frequently and fast.

Not every company can be as recognizable as some of the brand names we’re used to seeing, but these strategies can help you increase your brand awareness and put your small business in the running when it counts. When’s that? Whenever people are thinking of buying.

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