Before your customers can care about you, they need to know who you are.
Brand visibility is something of a chicken-and-egg problem for many companies. You want people to care about your brand, but no one is going to care about a brand they don’t know. It gets worse when you consider that prominence is not the same as visibility. You could have your company plastered on a billboard in Time Square and still be invisible if your message isn’t reaching the people who need to see it.
In other words, raising your brand visibility isn’t about throwing money at a problem, hacking together social posts every week, or bombarding inboxes with emails. There has to be thought behind it, and a keen awareness of your audience and their needs.
To create an effective brand strategy, you must:
- Know who your audience is and where they spend their time.
- Create a message or a messaging campaign focused on your audience’s needs.
- Set expectations based on your timeline and budget.
Once you define those variables, many other decisions click into place. You can’t roll out an extensive video marketing campaign if you need materials for a conference next week, but you can probably upgrade your messaging and get some sell sheets printed. If you have all year to work toward your goals but only a modest budget, you can build up your SEO rankings through blog content and supplement it with a paid media campaign. And if you have a lot of time and a lot of budget, you can combine long-term, momentum-building strategies with prominent, high-value pieces that will leave a lasting impression.
So, with all that that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how a few strategies might play out. I’ve organized these by strategic objectives (in no particular order), with the awareness that not every objective is applicable to every business. Within each objective I will talk about the specific steps needed to achieve the objective, along with what I consider to be an expected outcome.
1. Strategic objective: Grow organic traffic.
- “I want to rank higher in search results.”
- “I want more people to recognize our brand online.”
- “I want our website to impress at first glance.”
When we first started building websites over a decade ago, early conversations with many companies often involved trying to convince them that their website mattered. Thankfully, this is no longer a conversation we need to have with most organizations. That said, your online presence does still begin with your website, and keeping it looking its best is ongoing work. If your website is more than five years old, you’re probably overdue for an overhaul, and should prioritize this before sinking a lot of effort into raising domain authority.
Once you have your website in order, the next steps are to identify your keywords and build out a content strategy to target them. Article writing for your blog is a proven strategy to attract more visitors and raise your search rankings. Another strategy is to build out page content on your site, perhaps focusing on industries, service areas, project initiatives, or products.
While these strategies are good for SEO, they do take time to build momentum. For those who need immediate results, a paid media campaign directing traffic to either purpose-build landing pages or specific site pages can draw in traffic for the short term while you wait for your SEO work to start bearing fruit.
Expected result: The longer you follow this strategy, the better the results will be. Year-over metrics for our clients show consistent growth in both keyterm rankings and site traffic as well as a measurable increase in sales.
2. Strategic objective: Raise social media awareness.
- “I want to our posts to reach a wider audience.”
- “I want more engagement on our content.”
- “I want more traffic to our site through our social posts.”
Social media is a mixed bag. For some it’s a waste of time, while for others its absolutely essential. The same can also be said of specific social media platforms. Some of our clients rely on Facebook for audience engagement. Others thrive on Instagram. Others still see LinkedIn as their most valued marketing site.
Each of these sites is going to require a different strategy. Generally speaking, we have found Facebook to be the most effective in building community engagement. If your business wants to build a community, you will need designated people to be active on Facebook leading the discussion. We recommend working with that group to create a messaging strategy to get everyone on the same page.
Instagram’s hashtag function provides a strategic opportunity to reach larger audiences, but does take additional research time. Learning what hashtags are used by your target market and then creating authentic content around them can attract more of the right followers. Very few people will see your content if you post without hashtags.
Our preferred LinkedIn strategy is to unite thought leadership content pieces from the blog with posts from the leadership on LinkedIn. This really only works if you have people within your organization who are interested in leveraging their networks to grow your brand. With their buy-in, creating content for them to share that links back to your website is a strategy that we have seen pay off in a big way.
Expected result: Social media can attract attention quickly and lose it just as fast, but a steady strategy will result in higher followers and engagement.
3. Strategic objective: Establish industry credentials.
- “I want to be recognized as a thought leader.”
- “I want to be viewed as an established presence.”
- “I want our brand to communicate best-in-class.”
Some strategic goals are more measurable than others. There are numbers attached to follower counts and site traffic, but it’s much harder to track how you are perceived. What can be tracked are the deliverables you create to support your brand perception, as well as their distribution and reach.
Deliverables that can help create a positive brand impression include:
- Brand videos. These can be used on websites, in sales presentations, or at professional networking events. As a piece of prestige content, they are more likely to leave a lasting impression.
- Authoritative content. Thought leadership pieces, original research, and case studies can all be turned into articles for the website, downloadable PDFs, or marketing brochures.
- Refreshed presentation collateral. A sleek custom PowerPoint template can give your brand a more polished appearance, while a fully reworked sales presentation can help your messaging land more effectively.
Specific marketing campaigns designed to draw attention toward high-value content can also be used to measure success. For instance, you can create a landing page around a case study you wrote about a major project and tie that to a paid media campaign, or you can take your brand video and cut it into shorter clips to be distributed on social media.
Expected result: Success for this kind of objective can best be measured by the deliverables you completed. If you distribute your work you can also track reach. Other performance metrics may have to do with audience reception at an event or presentation.
4. Strategic objective: Deepen brand saturation.
- “I want everyone to know who we are.”
- “I want to be a household name.”
- “I want to be top of mind for our service area.”
Finally, let’s talk about the least tangible but most sought-after objective of brand visibility: market saturation. How do you know that everyone who can know about you does know about you? Is that even a meaningful goal if the bulk of your efforts are about establishing your brand with people who aren’t your target audience?
The answer is “yes,” but with the caveat that the payoff can be a long time coming. For nonprofits, being a household name has inestimable value. You never know who will need your services, or who has money they’re willing to donate to support your cause. Meanwhile, in industries with long sales cycles, such as manufacturing, brand saturation can be a way not only to attract new customers, to but to continue being top of mind for those who may be considering a purchasing decision somewhere down the road.
That said, brands should still be good stewards of the resources at their disposal. It can cost thousands of dollars a month to put an add up on a billboard which will only be seen by drivers on that stretch of road, many of whom may not notice or care. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a TV spot, and if your ad doesn’t look good enough or the network doesn’t have enough viewership, you may never see the benefits.
For brands that don’t have bottomless pockets, online advertising is a much more effective strategy—and one that can be targeted directly toward your niche. Running paid media that targets specific keywords, running ads on social media for people with listed interests, or running remarketing ads to remind visitors who have been on your site that you exist are all cost effective ways to reach more people with your brand.
Expected result: Online ads have tracking metrics that can let you know how well your ad performed. Less tangible results may take longer to surface.
Raising brand visibility is a long-term strategy, but the effort is foundational to your company’s success.
The most important lesson to realize about any marketing strategy is that the biggest barrier to achieving visibility is just doing the work it takes to get there. There aren’t shortcuts here. If you want people to know who you are, then you have to put energy toward showing them who you are.
When marketing strategies fail, it’s usually because one of the variables we described at the beginning was off: The audience was wrong, or the messaging was wrong, or the expectations about what could be achieved were unrealistic. It’s very unusual for a company with the right message for the right people in the right place at the right time to not see positive results from their efforts.
It’s also true that identifying your audience and settling on a message that appeals to them is easier said than done. That’s why, at build/create, we devote a lot of time early on toward learning about our audiences, developing customer-focused messaging, and researching right keywords to reach those markets. Once we have the groundwork in place, we’re ready to develop and execute strategies based on whatever goals our clients want to achieve.
If you or your marketing team need support in raising your organization’s brand visibility, contact us.